According to the Ukraine Defence Forces Strategic Communications Center:
Offensive operations by Russian army forces continue. The Russians are regrouping and relocating ground units to the areas of Belgorod and the Voronezh regions of Russia. Russian air assets are being relocated to the airfields in the immediate vicinity of Ukraine’s eastern borders. In particular, units of the 41st Combined Arms Army, Central Military District are moving into this area to regroup and replace losses.
The Russians continue the practice of placing military equipment and manpower in residential districts as well as within civilian infrastructure. There are reports of Russian separatist elements fighting while dressed in civilian clothes.
In the direction of Volyn and Polissya directions: there are no reports of enemy action and no changes in the disposition of Russian units in these areas have been reported.
Russian troops continue to partially blockade the city of Kharkiv. Units of the Russian 1st Tank and 20th Combined Arms Armies are reported operating in the area of the city of Izyum. This is an area of active air reconnaissance as Russian forces try to identify positions and routes used by Ukrainian troops in anticipation of an attack on their positions.
In the area of Donetsk and Tavriya, separately operating units and detachments of the Russian Southern Military District are moving into the area to assist other units in holding their ground in these key areas.
There are signs of strengthening of the air defense system of the enemy In the areas of Melitopol and Ilovaisk, there are signs of Russian increasing its air defenses. Ukraine expects that Russian units will continue their attempt to gain full control over the city of Mariupol; capture Popasna and advance to Kurakhove which would bring them to the map borders of the Donetsk region.
In Kherson, units of Russia’s Southern Military District continue to hold their positions.
Russian naval units have been observed conducting operations off the shores of the Black and Azov Seas probably trying to clear mines, conduct reconnaissance, and move closer to the mainland to provide fire support to ground units.
The threat of the Russian ballistic missiles remains high.
Ukraine is claiming that in the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the last 24hours, their troops have beaten back six enemy attacks, destroyed four tanks, five armored units, twenty-six vehicles, and eight enemy artillery systems. The Ukraine Air Force is claiming they have destroyed a jet aircraft of an unspecified type, two helicopters, and four drones.
Russia stands a much better chance of being successful in limited offensive operations in Luhansk and Donbas than in Ukraine as a whole. Russian lines of supply and communication back to Russia will be much shorter and Ukrainian forces have to cross a limited number of bridges over the Dneiper river that divides the country between east and west. These bridges could be destroyed making it very difficult for Ukraine to deploy and supply its troops in the Eastern part of the country. As Ukraine’s troops move towards the Dneiper they face a threat to their southern flank by Russian forces in Crimea. Ukraine will probably have to retake Mariupol and Crimea and drive Russian forces to the east of the river before they could have any hope of dislodging them from Donbas and Luhansk.
If Ukraine cannot get food, ammunition, and reinforcements into Mariupol soon, it is likely that organized resistance will collapse there within days. It has been 48 days that they have been holding out.
Ukraine Claims Russia Has Used Chemical Agents in an Attack in Mariupol
There are unconfirmed reports that Russia employed a chemical agent in an attack in the port city of Mariupol in Southern Ukraine. Russia is among 193 countries that signed a treaty banning the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and denies that it possesses or will use such weapons. That being the official line, Russia is accused of using the agent Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed in Russia to poison dissidents in 2018 and again in 2020.
The chemical agents under suspicion of being used are crowd control CS gas or perhaps white phosphorus. Depending on the manner of their use, they are not always illegal when used in war. White phosphorus is used in the US military as a chemical smokescreen and as illumination at night and these are permissible use. CS or tear gas is supposed to be banned as a military weapon but may be used by law enforcement agencies or as a crowd control measure by the military at a riot at a POW camp as a less-lethal means of dealing with a disturbance of that kind.
Would the Russians use CS or white phosphorus in combat to clear houses and buildings in their struggle to take Mariupol, given its importance?
Sure, why not?
The Russians didn’t declare war before invading Ukraine, they have randomly shelled civilian areas and there is ample evidence of Russian atrocities against civilians in Ukraine that continues to mount every day. The question really isn’t whether they would or did, but why they wouldn’t. Since the war began, Russia has engaged in a consistent pattern of escalations testing the response of NATO and the US, which has refused to escalate in kind beyond vague statements promising unspecified consequences which Russia should correctly read as a bluff. Every single act by NATO and the West in support of Ukraine has been denounced by Russia as a “provocation” to direct conflict between Russia and NATO or as a prelude to nuclear war. If NATO and the US continue to allow Putin and Russia to be the only side threatening escalation, Russia will continue to push at the boundaries until it goes too far and a full-scale war occurs.
Turkey is Playing Intermediary Instead of a Strategic Partner for NATO
Turkey is offering to be the neutral ground where Putin and Zelensky could meet for peace talks when it could actually make a lot of trouble for Russia in Syria and tie-down Russian forces Putin would like to use in Ukraine. In Syria, Turkey and Russia are in competition with each other. Turkey would like to be the regional power in that part of the world and view Syria itself as a lost province taken from them after their capitulation following WWI. Indeed, that whole region including Saudi Arabia and Iraq was once part of the Ottoman Empire for several hundred years. If Turkey was acting as a strategic partner of NATO and the West, it could stir things up in Syria to tie down Russian forces and prevent them from being moved to Ukraine.
But it isn’t, and NATO and the United States should insist on knowing why.
A Brief Report From an American Fighting in Ukraine
We are in contact with some American volunteers fighting in Ukraine. For reasons of personal and operational security, we will not reveal their names or location. They entered the country after being screened and paid their own way over there. Once they arrived in country it took about a week to try and locate the units they are attached to.
Their unit was crossing a road in the early morning hours returning to a Listening Post (LP), when he took a round from a Russian sniper that they thought they had taken out earlier. The round hit him in the butt and lodged in his pelvis. This was followed by heavy fire directed at the listening post they were trying to get to. He reports that within five minutes of being wounded a Ukrainian MRAP arrived and evacuated him to a nearby field hospital where he was promptly treated, stabilized, and given a small amount of morphine for the pain. The rest of his unit was extracted with a rearguard left behind awaiting a final MRAP to pick them up.
By approximately 1232 hrs EST he was transported to a major civilian hospital well to the rear of the fighting for further treatment.
Here is a direct quote “As fucked as this country is organizational and the bits of BS here and there they do not fuck around with serious things. I had an MRAP coming into a hot zone in less than 5 with serious incoming fire. Dudes are professional and handled business.”
Good morale in any army has lots of variables, and care for the wounded and dead is a very important one. This is in contrast to photographic, video, and communications evidence that shows Russian troops abandoning their dead and wounded on the field for the Ukrainians to find, bury and treat.