Ukraine Update 1 April, 2022 (Pre-Dawn)

  • Conflicting reports are coming out of Mariupol concerning Russia’s promise to allow more humanitarian access to the besieged city. Despite claims by the Russian government, many obstacles remain. Today, a convoy of buses sent to Mariupol for the purpose of evacuating residents from the city was halted by Russian troops in Berdyansk on their way to Mariupol. There has been no comment from the Russian defense ministry on the matter, though earlier in the day the ministry released a statement claiming a humanitarian corridor would be established on Friday morning from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia. This comes at the request of the French and German governments which have been working for some time now on expanding efforts to evacuate the heavily damaged city.
  • After over a month of combat operations in Ukraine, the Russian military continues to function without a theater commander. Instead, the campaign is being run from Moscow in a centralized manner reminiscent of the old Soviet days. This could also explain why Russian forces have struggled in the Ukrainian campaign. With no theater commander, the amount of coordination between different services and combat arms is likely minimal. Requests for air support or fire strikes (Russian term for artillery fire missions) must climb the ladder. Even in the digital age, this process takes time. Needless to say, combat commanders on the ground in Ukraine are fighting the war with their hands tied behind their backs as a result.
  • Ukrainian and Russian negotiators are set to resume talks in Turkey on Friday. Turkish President Erdogan has been making an effort to set up face-to-face talks between the foreign ministers of the two warring nations, yet there has been no sign that either diplomat will be involved in Friday’s discussions.

Ukraine Update 29 March, 2022 (Late Afternoon)

  • Russia’s intention to withdraw forces from the Kiev region indicates a strategic shift in priorities away from efforts to encircle the Ukrainian capital and towards the continued fighting in the Donbas. By all indications, Russia has begrudgingly accepted that operations around Kiev have reached a dead end. Now, in order to salvage something from this conflict, Vladimir Putin is looking to eastern Ukraine.
  • With the first in-person meeting between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators having taken place today in Turkey, talks between Moscow and Kiev are entering a new phase. Russia is becoming more pragmatic about the war in Ukraine but has shown no desire for a swift conclusion. The decision by Moscow to ‘sharply reduce’ military operations around Kiev and Chernihiv has been presented as a gesture “to increase mutual trust for future negotiations.”  In reality, it is more likely the creation of an opportunity to reconsolidate and resupply.
  • According to the New York Post, Ukraine has struck a Russian military base inside of Russia for the first time since the early days of the war. The strike reportedly was made against a base near Belgorod, a Russian city roughly 25 miles northeast of the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Ukraine Update 14 March, 2022 (Evening, brief post)

  • Negotiations between Ukrainian and Russian officials was cut short on Monday due to a ‘technical pause.’ These talks, the fourth round since fighting began in February, were being conducted via video link. They are expected to resume on Tuesday.
  • According to US officials, China is expressing some openness to giving Russia the financial and military aid it has requested. It is not certain whether or not China has made a final decision about providing assistance. The partnership between China and Russia has caused increased concern in the West and is proving to be a major roadblock in isolating Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
  • Russian claims that Ukraine is preparing to use chemical weapons have continued despite no solid proof being provided by the Russian government. There’s growing concern in Western circles that the empty claims are part of a Russian plan to stage the ‘discovery’ of Ukrainian chemical agents and use the incident to its advantage politically and militarily.

Ukraine Update 5 March, 2022 (Evening)

  • Russia and Ukraine will hold a third round of talks on 7 March. Earlier this evening Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia made the announcement. In the second round held earlier this past week, both sides agreed to establish humanitarian corridors for civilians to flee from battle zones. However, in Mariupol, there are reports that the Russians closed the corridors for the city and resumed shelling, which made evacuation impossible.
  • The Ukrainian Air Force has claimed to have inflicted a heavy number of air losses on Russian aircraft in the last few days. According to Euromaidan Press reports, Air Force Command reported air defenses shooting down two Su-30 Flankers, a UAV and several cruise missiles. Ukrainian government officials also claim having shot down 8 Russian aircraft alone on 5 March. Right now there’s no way to independently verify these claims.
  • Belarussian opposition figures claim that the Belarus military was supposed to enter Ukraine over a week ago, according to the plan of operations. It didn’t, however. According to the Senior Advisor for opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the reasons were officers resigning and some fleeing the country. Conscripts are reported to be massively fleeing their units and returning to their civilian homes. Again, independent verification of any of this has been difficult to obtain.

Ukraine Update 3 March, 2022 (Early Afternoon)

-The second round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials is underway in Belarus. One of the main goals for the Ukrainian delegation will be to open humanitarian corridors for civilians to depart from areas where heavy fighting is underway. Russia’s demands were announced by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and differ little from Moscow’s main objectives for its Ukrainian operation. Ukraine must “demilitarize and denationalize”, recognize Crimea as part of Russia, and formally recognize the two Donetsk and Luhansk regions as independent states. I would not expect to see much progress on that front today, however, the latest reports out of the negotiation site tend to suggest an agreement on humanitarian corridors seems to have been reached.

-A Russian amphibious landing is still expected near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa along the Black Sea. Reports of a Russian amphibious task force approaching the coast have continued, but there has been no confirmation of a landing having taken place in the last couple of hours.

-French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that the ‘worst is yet to come’ in Ukraine. Following a 90 minute telephone call with Vladimir Putin, Macron believes Russia intends to occupy all of Ukraine and prosecute this war until all of its objectives are attained.