Early this Friday morning, Kyiv time, there were missile and/or aircraft attacks on Kyiv, apparently intended to target air defenses, but resulting in attacks on the city itself. Civilian casualties were light, but explosions keep being reported and air raid sirens have been consistently active within Kyiv since sunrise.
Of greater immediate concern was the prospect that a Russian mechanized force originating in Belarus may be within thirty-two kilometers of Kyiv, according to conversations between Biden administration officials and House lawmakers in a briefing that occurred this afternoon around 3:30 PM Pacific Time.
Russian forces moving south from Chernobyl early Friday morning, Kyiv time, allegedly clashed with Ukrainian forces in Ivankiv, possibly resulting in the Ukrainians successfully blowing up a bridge across the Teteriv River.
A similar, second attack around Chernihiv, northwest of Ivankiv, was also unsuccessful. However, the Russians successfully forced the retreat of the Ukrainians at the town of Dymer, approximately forty-six kilometers north by northwest of Kyiv, and Russian units may have been seen as close a few kilometers to the northwest of Kyiv at the small town of Vorzel.
An additional considered possibility is a Russian Spetsnaz attack on Kiyv itself through either or both of the Sikorsky and/or Boryspil international airports around Kiyv. Sikorsky International Airport is on the southwestern edge of the central urban area that makes up Kiyv, on the west side of the Dnieper River, while Boryspil International Airport is on the far southeastern edge of Kiyv, east of the Dnieper River. Thirty-six kilometers and the Dnieper River separate the two airports, however, and one has to question the wisdom of a simultaneous attack with almost no chance of complimentary support of each other.
The extent of Russian gains within the rest of Ukraine through yesterday’s combat, otherwise, is slowly becoming clear.
In the Kherson region in the south, there are reports that the Ukrainian army used Turkish Bayraktar drones in battles around Henichesk, Skadovsk, and Chaplynka. The Russians have apparently responding this morning by advancing a large column of Russian Airborne forces, including armor, toward Kherson.
Ukraine has, in response, allegedly struck Russia’s Millerovo air field in Rostov with tactical ballistic missiles.
Russian military forces have been stymied for the moment within the Sumy region, northwest of Kharkiv.
The Kharkiv region has allegedly been under attack since the start of this conflict, but there hasn’t been any conclusive details provided to support the claim, though stories are now being released by the news media.
The Volyn region in the northwestern corner of Ukraine is preparing for an expected attack as the Russians may consider widening their front in the north to make it harder to defend Kyiv. There have been missile attacks early Friday morning, Kyiv time, immediately southeast of the region at the Rivne International Airport, two hundred miles west of Kyiv.
The Ukrainian military claims that since the beginning of fighting with Russia they have killed eight hundred men, shot down seven airplanes and six helicopters, destroyed thirty tanks and one hundred and thirty other vehicles.
Russia’s defense ministry said it has lost no aircraft or tanks, and that its forces had destroyed seventy-four above-ground military infrastructure facilities in Ukraine on Thursday, including eleven aerodromes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared that 137 Ukrainians have died and that 316 have been wounded. The statement did not break down how many of the dead and wounded were military and how many were civilians.
The Ukrainian government has imposed curfews within the Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chekasy, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhya, Poltava, and Vinnytsia regions, which are in effect each evening between 10 PM and 6 AM Kyiv time until further notice.
President Zelensky, in a televised address released shortly after midnight Kyiv time on Thursday, February 24th, specifically asked Kyivians to follow the curfew as Russian espionage groups are present within the city.
After saluting the Ukrainian dead and wounded after the first day of the war, his frustration was made clear when he thanked each nation that helped Ukraine “…not just by words… But there is another thing — we are left alone in defense of our state. Who is ready to fight with us? Honestly, I do not see anyone. Who is ready to give a guarantee of joining NATO? Honestly, everyone is afraid…”
“We are not afraid of anything… We are not afraid to talk about… security guarantees for our state,” Zelensky said. ‘We are not afraid to talk about neutral status since we are not in NATO. But what guarantees will we have? And most importantly — what specific countries will give them to us?”
He also stated that that he and his family would be staying in Kyiv even though “The enemy marked me as target number 1, my family, as target number 2. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.”
President Zelensky also signed a decree earlier that same day ordering the mobilization of all conscripts and reservists in all Ukrainian regions and states that no Ukrainian male citizen between the ages of eighteen and sixty may leave Ukraine, as they will be needed for the defense of the nation.
Approximately somewhere between tens of thousands and 100,000 Ukrainians have allegedly left their homes within their country and that around or just over a thousand Ukrainian refugees have entered Moldova and Romania.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told journalists on Thursday that $20 million has been released to work on “both sides of the contact line,” providing lifesaving humanitarian relief to people in need, “regardless of who or where they are.” Guterres stressed that “the protection of civilians must be priority number one.”
This same day, the nation of Moldova, which was previously the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic and which declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, declared a state of emergency, closed its airspace and declared itself ready to receive refugees from the Ukraine.
Part of the action no doubt was the result of the current war in Ukraine, but it also may be in response to Moldova having on its border the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, commonly known as Transnistria, which broke away from Moldova in 1991 and has somewhere between one thousand and fifteen hundred lightly armed Russian troops serving as peacekeepers between the two nations.
Russia may attempt to create an incident in the area to provide a pretext for invasion through the area or to block Ukrainian refugees, but that in turn would likely require the occupation of Chișinău International Airport in Moldova in order to bring fresh Russian forces into the area beforehand.
One thing to keep in mind throughout this conflict is that while misinformation may be provided by the Ukrainian or Russian militaries or governments to advance specific objectives, individuals and groups have the potential to do the same thing. TikTok videos regarding the war of questionable veracity are already becoming an issue.
The Come Back Alive Foundation allegedly had its Patreon account suspended Thursday, with over $250,000 USD accumulated within its account left in limbo.
Primarily an organization to support veterans of the Ukrainian military with social and therapeutic services, it also has been known to help provide active members of the Ukrainian military, especially those serving in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with nonlethal gear such as bulletproof vests and night goggles.
Donations to the account skyrocketed within the last twenty-four hours, potentially in part due to Twitter postings alleging that donations to the Patreon site would be used to purchase munitions, and given that the original website had been recommended on a Ukrainian government website immediately after the outbreak of hostilities by Russia, resulting in such responses as donations of almost $400,000 USD worth of Bitcoin, it was inevitable that Patreon would take action.
Readers should also keep in mind that it isn’t just Ukrainian and Russian enlisted military personnel involved in this conflict.
The 141st Akhmad Kadyrov Special Motorized Regiment of Russia’s National Guard (Rosgvardia), officially to be used for internal security within an occupied region after conflict, but in actuality the personal force of dreaded Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, was confirmed to be entering Ukraine as of Wednesday, February 2nd.
The Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion, a unit presently in southeastern Ukraine which previously had fought in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions against ethnic Russian Ukrainian separatists in 2014, who’s leader has been wrapped up in controversy, is also made up primarily of Chechens.
Other foreign volunteers are attempting to join in the fight on the side of Ukraine, and the Georgian Legion, a paramilitary unit of around one hundred members, are thought to be providing support in the Kyiv area.
The Azov Special Operations Detachment, also known as the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian National Guard unit largely staffed by neo-Nazis and related right-wing extremists, has been an attractor of foreign white nationalist volunteers in the past and is likely to revitalize recruitment outside Ukraine to increase its ranks.
The Russian government has also allegedly assigned approximately 300 mercenaries aligned with the Wagner Group to the conflict, which has been used in previous efforts by Russia and presently has details providing security and military support within the Central African Republic, Libya, South Sudan, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Mali.
It so happens that Mali has been dealing with both Islamist militants and a second overthrow of its civilian leadership by its military in the last two years. While not numerous, their typically advanced military skills could be used in achieving very difficult objectives in order to reduce the number of Russian conscripts killed in action and thus also reduce adverse publicity regarding the latter’s deaths.
Finally, readers should keep in mind that this war will have a number of unintended ramifications. An example is that Ukraine provides 90% of semiconductor-grade neon and that Russia provides 35% of semiconductor-grade palladium. There are other sources for both elements, but few as relatively inexpensive. Another example is the decision by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to move an upcoming Champions League final out of St. Petersburg and resulting multiple knock-off effects in response to the decision.
President Biden has decided to send seven thousand American troops, the focus of which will be an armored brigade combat team, supplementing an additional seven thousand troops sent to Europe within the last two weeks.
He also met with members of the Group of Seven nations to determine and coordinate additional measures against Russia.
But he also held back from imposing sanctions on Putin himself. European nations, meanwhile, could not come to agreement on disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT international banking system.
One step under consideration is whether or not to actively arm a Ukrainian resistance in the event of the fall of its government, which could allow Russia to interpret the United States as a co-combatant, thus raising the stakes for a world war between NATO and the nations in Vladimir Putin’s orbit (not just the Russian Federation, but Belarus and potentially other former Soviet states as well).
Congressional Republicans have been, not surprisingly, unhelpfully critical of President Biden’s leadership in the midst of the conflict.
The European Union and many other nations have also increased the number and overall intensity of sanctions against Russia since the onset of the current phase of the attacks. Britain has also established its own additional unique set of sanctions. But China has approved imports of wheat from Russia and “called on parties to respect others’ legitimate security concerns.”
Iran, meanwhile, offered a relatively restrained response.
OVD-Info presently reports that 1758 anti-war protestors in Russia have been arrested in fifty-five Russian cities and towns as of the end of February 24th, of which 967 were in Moscow and 431 were in St. Petersburg.
For those wishing to read more, here’s a summary of additional developments:
- There have been odd goings-on with Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean. Here are some potential implications and considerations.
- This is a good explanation of what President Putin of Russia means when he says “denazification.” Its implications are chilling.
- And here is a link to a recommended set of news and opinions sources regarding the situation in Ukraine that are making use of Twitter, provided by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo Take everything said with a gain or two of salt, but it will provide a sense of what is happening somewhat better then through most media.
We’ll have another update on Putin’s war against Ukraine this weekend.