The Institute for the Study of War reports a dual purpose for Putin’s focus on alleged Ukrainian attacks in Russia’s border regions. In Kramatorsk, three people die and 20 are injured in a rocket attack. What happened that night in the Ukraine war.
In its latest update, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports on the background to the Russian focus on the alleged danger posed by Ukrainian shelling of border regions. This refers to the narrative spread by Putin in Russia, which reports on the continuous shelling of Russian border regions by Ukrainian troops. With this narrative, Putin has a dual purpose.
First of all, the reports are part of an information campaign aimed at “presenting the war in Ukraine as an existential threat to Russian citizens,” writes the ISW. This serves to bolster Putin’s domestic support for a protracted war in Ukraine.
In addition, according to the experts, Putin could create the conditions for an escalation of cross-border attacks. The aim: to divert the Ukrainian forces from critical advance axes and disperse them by pinning them in north-eastern border areas.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is not ruling out the possibility that fighter jets will be delivered to Ukraine, despite the current reluctance of countries such as Germany and the United States. The delivery of tanks was also initially highly controversial, said the Spaniard in the run-up to an EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv on Friday.
In the end, however, an agreement was reached on the subject and the “red line” was crossed. So far, there have been warnings of escalation risks for all arms deliveries, he said.
According to the police, three people were killed and around 20 others injured in a Russian rocket attack in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. A residential building was hit, the police said on Wednesday evening. At the same time, she expressed the fear that there were other victims under the rubble of the house.
“Peaceful people were killed and buried under rubble,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “This is the daily reality in our country.” AFP reporters saw two bodies recovered from the rubble. Rescue workers searched the rubble for survivors and possible other victims.
Kramatorsk is located in the Donetsk region. This has been fiercely contested for months, and its complete capture is one of Russia’s key war goals in Ukraine. The Donetsk and Luhansk regions together form the Donbass region, which has been partially occupied by pro-Russian separatists since 2014. The Donbass is of great economic importance because of its raw materials and industry.
Before an EU-Ukraine summit this Friday, Zelenskyi reported on the “successes” of the work of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies in his nightly video message. For example, a police department that is said to have covered a prostitute ring was caught. There was violence against girls, said Selenskyj. There are first arrests. According to the authorities, the officials are said to have collected one million euros in “protection money” every month.
Selenskyj had recently announced that he would take action against corruption, abuse of office and other criminal behavior in the civil service. He said senior officials in the Customs Service had been fired. In addition, the SBU secret service, investigators and prosecutors have carried out dozens of raids in different regions of the country to collect evidence for criminal proceedings. “Justice will be established.”
What will be important on Thursday:
In the east of Ukraine, the Russian troops are trying to advance further and are currently mainly conquering towns in the Donetsk region. In addition to the Donetsk region, Kremlin chief Putin also occupied the regions of Luhansk, Cherson and Zaporizhia and declared them to be Russian state territory. No country recognizes that. The aim of his war is to bring the four illegally annexed territories under Russian control.
Most recently, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki put a lot of pressure on Berlin with his Leopard urges. The neighboring country of Ukraine and Germany is considered the hardest supporter of Kyiv. In an interview with the “Bild” newspaper, Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki commented on the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine – and warned of another Russian attack on Kyiv.
Since the winter in Ukraine was rather mild and the soil is therefore not suitable for heavy equipment, Putin will probably wait until spring with his offensive, explains the Polish Prime Minister. “From all the information I have from Ukraine, I know that there will be another Russian offensive, probably in March or April, and it will be a very tough offensive,” Morawiecki said. Numerous secret services previously stated that a Russian offensive was imminent in the spring. “I think that unfortunately he is not only full of hatred for Ukraine, but also wants to show his people once again that he is a long-term player who never gives up and he will attack Kyiv again, yes I have this fear” , warns the Prime Minister.
He also fears that the Russian military leadership plans to surround Ukraine and attack two or three different sides. “Therefore, I think that the Ukrainians cannot rule out an attack from the Belarusian northern part of Ukraine, so that Kyiv is surrounded from the west,” adds Morawiecki. Putin is creating numerous new recruits for the offensive. Morawiecki assumes that around 200,000 to 250,000 new soldiers have been called up by Russia.
The US government is targeting Russia’s defense sector with new sanctions over Moscow’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The US Treasury Department said on Wednesday that 22 people and institutions from several countries who were connected to a network to circumvent sanctions were affected. This network thus supports the “military-industrial complex” of Russia. The measures are aimed, among other things, at the arms dealer Igor Zimenkov. The fact that Russia is trying to circumvent the sanctions shows that the measures taken so far have had an effect, it said. It has become more expensive and more difficult to supply Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin’s war machine with supplies.
As a result of the sanctions, any assets of those affected are usually frozen in the USA. US citizens are prohibited from doing business with them. International business is also usually made much more difficult for those affected by the sanctions. Just last week, the US declared the Russian private army Wagner a transnational criminal organization and imposed sanctions on the mercenary group and its network.
British intelligence sees the dismissal of a senior Russian military as a sign of a lack of unity in Moscow’s military leadership. Colonel-General Mikhail, who has played an important role in the Ukraine war, has allegedly been fired, the British Ministry of Defense said in its daily briefing on Tuesday. According to the British, Teplinsky was responsible for the withdrawal of the Russians west of Ukraine’s Dnipro River in November last year. In Russia, he was praised as a capable and pragmatic commander, it said.
It is currently unclear whether Teplinski still has his responsibilities as head of the Russian airborne troops. However, it is possible that a debate about the role of these forces contributed to his dismissal. The airborne troops were often used for tasks that did not correspond to their specialization.
In Ukraine, investigators searched the home of the influential oligarch Ihor Kolomojskyj during raids on several corruption cases on Wednesday. According to a senior official, investigators also combed the living quarters of a former minister and the offices of tax authorities in the capital, Kyiv. The oligarch Kolomojskyj, who is the target of the investigation, used to be close to the current President Volodymyr Zelenskyj.
The raids took place ahead of an important EU-Ukraine summit. Kyiv currently seems struggling to convince its key Western allies that the government is cracking down on systemic corruption in the country. The Ukrainian domestic secret service SBU published pictures of the house search at Kolomojskyj. The case is said to be about the misappropriation of 40 billion Ukrainian hryvnia (the equivalent of around one billion euros).
Kolomojskyj has enjoyed a dubious reputation for years. He is on a US sanctions list and is not allowed to enter the USA because he is accused of corruption and anti-democratic activities. The billionaire was one of Ukraine’s richest men before Russia invaded the country, with interests in numerous sectors of the economy, including the media, aviation and energy sectors.
Also interesting: Ex-prisoners at the front – Wagner mercenaries return traumatized – and could become a problem for Russia
Defense Minister Boris Pistorius expects the main battle tanks to be delivered to Ukraine to significantly strengthen its defenses against Russian attackers. “Ukraine needs all support and Leopard tanks, whether they are 2A6s or other 2A4s, can play an important role in the fight of Ukrainians against the aggressor Russia. And that’s why everyone understands in the end that this has to happen,” said the SPD politician on Wednesday during a visit to the troops in Augustdorf, Westphalia.
Pistorius asked the troops to understand this step and announced that a replacement would be procured as quickly as possible. On Tuesday he held three announced bilateral talks with representatives of the defense industry and was “very pleased about clear commitments and announcements of what is possible and can be achieved,” said Pistorius. He wants to do everything to ensure that the Bundeswehr becomes more operational and cold-start capable, i.e. ready for combat without major preparations.