US Patriot air defense systems at the airport in Warsaw, Poland, February 7, 2023 (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)


Wednesday’s Coverage: Russia’s Defense Minister Fails to Ease Concern Over Kyiv’s Advance East of Dnipro River


Map: Institute for the Study of War


UPDATE 1758 GMT:

Today’s toll in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine has reached four killed, after three civilians were slain by Russian cluster munitions.

Five others were wounded in a suburb of Kherson city. More than 60 residential and infrastructure buildings were damaged in the afternoon attack.


UPDATE 1716 GMT:

Ukrainian troops say Russia is attacking the city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine with “waves” of soldiers.

Russia launched its all-out assault last month on Avdiivka, about 20 km from Donetsk city, the main Russian position in its occupation. Western officials say the Russians are suffering 500 to 1,000 casualties each day.

The “human wave” tactics are similar to those used in the year-long assault on Bakhmut, also in the region. Using Wagner Group mercenaries and freed convicts, the Russians finally subdued the Ukrainian defenses in May.

A deputy commander of a Ukrainian brigade says, “The fields are just littered with corpses. They are trying to exhaust our lines with constant waves of attacks.”

At the start of the all-out assault, Russia tried to encircle Avdiivka with hundreds of armored vehicles. “But they fell into minefields, were hit by drones and anti-tank missiles,” says a Ukrianian drone operator.

A Western official says the Russian army lost more than 200 armored vehicles. After the failed attack, the invaders switched to infantry tactics.

The Ukrainian drone operator said Russian soldiers usually advance at night, in groups of five to seven fighters. Ukraine responds with artillery, mortars, grenades, drones, and cannons ofUS-supplied Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

In the same words used by Ukrainian soldiers over Bakhmut, the drone operator says, “Some die, others keep on coming. It’s like a zombie movie.”


UPDATE 1258 GMT:

Two civilians have been killed in the latest Russian shelling of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.

A 42-year-old man was slain in his apartment building, and another wounded, in eight Russian artillery barrages on the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.

On Thursday morning, a 70-year-old man was slain in the town of Beryslav.

The man was cycling down the street when Russia attacked.

A 51-year-old woman was wounded in the village of Antonivka on Wednesday.


UPDATE 1247 GMT:

Two Ukrainian truck drivers have died in freezing conditions amid the 17-day blocking of four crossings by Polish counterparts.

The Polish truckers are claiming loss of business from Ukrainian drivers exempted from seeking border permits during Russia’s 21-month invasion.

One trucker died overnight near the Polish village of Korczowa, as he was stuck for three days trying to cross the border. Another died on November 11 near the crossing in the Polish city of Chelm.

Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka, Ukraine‘s trade representative, called for Poland to lift the blockades before discussions to resolve the dispute.

Our task is to unblock the road first and then talk about all the demands that the protesters have. This should be done at the negotiating table….in Brussels, or in Warsaw, or in Kyiv, but not on the road in winter, causing damage not only to the economy but also to the health and lives of drivers who are stuck there.


UPDATE 1219 GMT:

Ukraine’s State energy company Ukrenergo has asked operators in Romania, Slovakia and Poland for “emergency assistance” to ensure adequate supply.

Ukrenergo cited an increase in consumption. It added, “The situation remains difficult: repairs are underway at several blocks of thermal power plants, and there is a shortage of electricity in the power system.”


UPDATE 0947 GMT:

Lithuania has announced its latest package of military assistance to Ukraine.


UPDATE 0929 GMT:

Finland is closing three more crossings with Russia, leaving only one open along the 1,340-km (833-mile) border.

Helsinki says the Kremlin has pushed hundreds of asylum seekers to the border, organizing illegal crossings, in recent weeks. Last week the Finns shut four other points.

Estonia’s Interior Ministry also accused Russia of trying to create a wave of migration — similar to tactics that Moscow and its ally Belarus used in 2021 on the Polish border — to cause discord.

The Ministry’s Lauri Laanemets said, “Unfortunately, there are many signs that Russian border officials and possibly other agencies are involved. Quite frankly, [the] ongoing migration pressure on Europe’s eastern border is a hybrid attack operation.”

The Ministry said 75 people – largely from Somalia and Syria – attempted to enter from Russia since Thursday but were turned back.


UPDATE 0920 GMT:

A Russian court has sentenced a 17-year-old student to six years in a juvenile penal colony for throwing Molotov cocktails at army recruitment offices.

Yegor Balazeikin, who attended a prestigious high school in St Petersburg specializing in social sciences, said he “has no regrets”, according to his mother.

Supporters said the health of Balazeikin, who suffers from autoimmune hepatitis and liver fibrosis, has suffered in detention.

The student targeted the enlistment buildings in St. Petersburg and in his hometown of Kirovsk, 30 km (20 miles) to the east, after his uncle was killed on the frontline in Ukraine.

The explosives failed to ignite.

Balazekin said in court, “I believe that if people en masse expressed their dissatisfaction — not necessarily in the way I did — it will lead to the end of this war and the saving of lives.”


UPDATE 0911 GMT:

Three people were killed and at least eight injured in a Russian strike on a hospital in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday.

damaged

The Russians have carried out a series of deadly attacks on Selydove in the Donetsk region this month. Wednesday’s assault damaged two hospital buildings and a coal mine.


ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has hailed the creation of an “air defense development coalition” by Kyiv’s international partners.

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In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy said agreement was reached after Wednesday’s virtual gathering of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. About 50 countries participated.

Today a regular meeting in the Ramstein format was held – the 17th one already….

The leaders in [the coalition’s] organization are Germany and France. I am grateful for this leadership. I am also grateful to every country that participates in these efforts, which enable our cities and villages to be more protected from Russian attacks.

The President said some details can be revealed publicly, but “Ukraine’s sky shield is getting more powerful literally every month”.

On Thursday morning, Zelenskiy posted a longer explanation of the coalition’s significance. He concluded:

Since 2022, Ukraine has liberated more than half of the land that Russia has occupied. In 2023, Ukraine expelled the Russian fleet from most of the Black Sea. 2024 must become the year when Ukraine throws Russia out of its skies.

Russia’s most intense attacks were carried out from October 2022 through early 2023. At one point, Vladimir Putin’s “energy war” knocked out half of Ukraine’s power grid. However, air defenses — bolstered by international aid — held out, and engineers repaired most of the damage by April.

While the daily Russian missile and drone assaults are far diminished from more than 100 munitions fired each day at the height of the attacks, Ukrainian officials are warning that a second “energy war” is likely this winter.

Ukraine air defenses intercepted all 14 Iran-made attack drones launched by Russia between 8 p.m. Tuesday and 3 a.m. Wednesday. No casualties or major damage were reported.