Ukraine Update 28 Februrary, 2022 (Afternoon)

Good afternoon!

-The negotiations between Ukrainian and Russian officials ended earlier today with no ceasefire or conflict resolution agreed upon. The prospects for a second round of talks seem to be gaining traction though. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy released a short statement explaining. “Ukrainian and Russian delegations held the first round of negotiations in the area of the Ukraine-Belarus border in order to find common ground for the fastest ceasefire. The parties discussed in detail a number of key topics on which they have prospects for finding mutually acceptable decisions. A decision was made to immediately hold additional consultations in the capitals of the states. After that, the second round of negotiations of Ukrainian and Russian parties is to take place in the near future.”

Whether Zelenskiy is trying to sugarcoat the failure of today’s talks remains to be seen. But as the negotiations ended, explosions rocked Kiev. Earlier in the day, Russian forces launched heavy artillery and rocket strikes against the city of Kharkov. By all accounts, the fighting that took place there over the weekend did not involve elements of the main Russian effort from the east. The city appears to have been bypassed in the first days of the war and is just now receiving the attention of second-echelon forces.

-It would appear the city of Nikolayev (Mykolaiv) is preparing for a large force of Russian armor to arrive in the near future. This follows a weekend of probing attacks against Ukrainian cities arrayed on or near the Black Sea coastline. Put simply, the purpose of the weekend artillery attacks and probes was to force the defenders of these cities to keep their heads down as other Russian units maneuvered around them enroute to other objectives. Now it would appear that a concentrated assault is being prepared against Nikolayev as Russian forces seem ready to move decisively to capture Ukraine’s seacoast.

-Despite news reports to the contrary, US government officials claim there are no indications of a Belarussian mobilization currently underway. Their posture has remained unchanged and for the moment at least, it does not appear that Minsk is preparing to commit military forces to the war in Ukraine.

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