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  • Writer's pictureAurimas Navys

UKRAINE STRENGTHENS DEFENCE IN BACHHMUT (11 03 2023)

Political strategic level

Ukraine has decided to continue the fight in the destroyed town of Bakhmut. According to the defenders' assessment, the battle for the ruins has tied down the best Russian units and is thinning them out daily.

Referring to the intense fighting in Bakhmut, M. Podoliak, advisor to the Ukrainian President, said that "Russia has changed tactics. It has concentrated on Bakhmut with a large part of its trained military personnel, the remnants of its professional army, as well as private companies. We therefore have two objectives: to reduce their forces as much as possible and capture them in a few key battles of attrition, to disrupt their offensive, and to concentrate our resources elsewhere for the spring counter-offensive. So today, Bakhmut is fully effective, even going beyond its core tasks."

Russia has flooded the ruins because it has decided to make them the main target of its winter offensive. Tens of thousands of Russian reservists, mercenaries, mercenaries, marauders and other armed vagabonds have occupied the eastern part of the city and the suburbs in the north and south, but have so far been unable to close the ring around the Ukrainian defenders.

Kyiv, which at the beginning of March appeared to be planning to retreat westwards after meetings with generals from NATO countries, announced this week that it was strengthening its defences in Bakhmut and was determined to fight on. Ukraine's deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said that as Russia continues its offensive "our troops are doing everything possible to prevent the enemy from carrying out its plans".

Meanwhile, yesterday, apartment thief and recidivist Prigozhin publicly thanked the government for the "heroic" increase in production, but said in the same audio message that he was "worried about the shortage of ammunition and cartridges not only for Vagner but also for all units of the Russian army". Moscow argues that the seizure of Bakhmut would punch a hole in Ukraine's defences and would be a step towards seizing the entire industrial region of Ukraine's Donbass, the Kremlin's main target.

Bakhmut has indeed become an effective factory for the exploitation of Russian marodirs.

The United States has accused Russia of seeking to destabilise Moldova and has said it will help the country to counter such attempts, in particular by sharing information and providing other assistance, the White House said. "The United States agrees with Moldovan President Maia Sandu's view that Russia does not pose an imminent military threat, but shares her concern that Moscow is attempting to destabilise her country in order to install a more pro-Russian government," said White House national security spokesman John Kirby.

"Russian actors, some of whom are currently linked to Russian intelligence, are seeking to stage and use the protests in Moldova as a basis for fomenting and staging an uprising against the Moldovan government," the US official warned.

There is no doubt that the Kremlin is trying to destabilise the region, both in Moldova and Georgia, in every possible way.

In the latter, the parliament voted to reject a draft law on the registration of foreign agents. After tens of thousands of protesters flooded Tbilisi, the bill requiring media and non-governmental organisations that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign sources to register as 'agents of foreign influence' was dropped. Critics argued that, if passed, the law could derail Georgia's ambition to one day join NATO and the European Union.

Protesters in Tbilisi said the bill was inspired by a similar law in Russia which has been used to silence critics. They rallied outside the parliament building, although they were met with tear gas and water cannons.

The new Cypriot President announced on Friday that Cyprus, like other European Union Member States, will allocate 2% of its gross domestic product to defence spending. After a visit to a special operations forces training camp, Nicos Christodoulides told reporters that he aims to make Cyprus, among other countries such as Greece and France, a "key" EU country in the bloc's recent efforts to strengthen its deterrent capabilities and defence infrastructure.

The 2% of GDP target reflects the commitment of NATO members, but Christodoulides said there were no plans to apply for membership of the military alliance at the moment.

In a letter to workers' unions published on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron insisted on the need to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 in order to make France's pension system financially sustainable in the coming years.

Throughout this week, more than a million demonstrators marched in French cities and towns as train and metro drivers, oil refinery workers and others launched indefinite strikes against the centrist government's plan. Trade unions have called for more protests on Saturday. They are demanding the withdrawal of a bill that is being considered by the French Senate this week.

In a letter from the President's office, Mr Macron said he had decided to "force the French to work a little longer" because the other options he had rejected would have meant "cutting pensions, raising taxes or imposing financial burdens on our children and grandchildren".

Hard. Just bear in mind that the Kremlin has already drawn up plans to further rock the creaking boat, whose sails must also withstand the ever-increasing wind of rising food prices.

According to new data, the price of a chicken egg in the EU has risen by 30% in the year to January 2023, signalling an increase in the cost of living for the population of all 27 countries in the bloc. Annual inflation in the 20-country euro area has started to fall, standing at 8.5% in February, but continued to rise in the food, alcohol and tobacco sector, reaching 15%.

Egg prices rose the most in the Czech Republic, up 85% year-on-year, followed by Hungary with 80% and Slovakia with 79%, while the least changed were Germany and Luxembourg, both of which saw their prices rise by "only" 18%.

Well, Easter will be less filling. We could do without eggs altogether, but those chickens are laying and laying.

Operational level

No significant changes.

Norway will hand over two more "platoons" of NASAMS air defence systems to Ukraine, together with the US, according to the Norwegian government website. "Ukraine is in dire need of protection against missile attacks and Norway will provide assistance," the country's defence ministry is quoted as saying.

The air defence platoon consists of 3-4 launchers with six AMRAAM missiles each, as well as a radar station, a fire control room and a facility with an electro-optical camera. "<...> This will significantly improve Ukraine's ability to defend its cities and critical infrastructure against Russian missile attacks," the website says.

Meanwhile, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has authorised the start of negotiations for the transfer of old fighter jets to Ukraine. She said that Finland was in an interesting position because it had decided to buy new fighter jets.

"Yes, I think we can also discuss the Hornet, whether it would be possible to transfer them to Ukraine and what kind of training would be needed," said Ms Marin. She stressed that discussions on fighter jets are at a very early stage and that extensive international cooperation is needed.

Finland has 55 F/A-18 Hornet fighters and about 20 trainer models, as well as older British Hawk trainer models.

Canada has banned the import of all Russian aluminium and steel products. According to Ottawa, this is aimed at denying Moscow the ability to finance its war against Ukraine. "Ukraine can and must win this war. We continue to do everything we can to cut off or limit the revenues that are funding Putin's illegal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine", Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.

Ukrainian officials have ordered the historically Russian-linked wing of the Orthodox Church to leave the monastery complex in Kyiv where it is based. Kyiv has been taken seriously by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), which recognised the authority of the Moscow Patriarch before the large-scale invasion last year. Kyiv officials justified their decision on the grounds that the UOB is pro-Russian and cooperates with Moscow. The Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill, a KGB employee, strongly supports the invasion and the massacre.

Tactical level

Over the past day, the Russians have launched 29 air and 4 missile strikes in the Donetsk region. In addition, the terrorists have fired over 100 rounds of rocket-assisted volley fire. Civilians have been injured, civilian infrastructure and residential buildings have been damaged.

The threat of missile strikes remains high throughout Ukraine.

The main efforts of the Russo-fascists are concentrated on offensive actions in the directions of Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Maryinka and Shakhtarsk. During the past day, Ukrainian troops repelled more than 100 enemy attacks in these directions.

In the settlements of Yasinuvata, Zhdanivka, Khartsyzka, Ambroseivka in the Donetsk region of the temporarily occupied territory, the Russian occupation "authorities" organised the awarding of party tickets to local collaborators of the Russian political party "United Russia" in local occupation administrations and cultural houses.

The losses of the Russian Marodiers continue. In Berdiansk, local medical facilities are overflowing with wounded. The gynaecological ward has been discharged of all patients and 30 injured Russians have been admitted. Another 80 seriously wounded occupiers were placed in other wards.

Ukrainian aviation struck 11 strikes a day against occupation centres and an anti-aircraft missile complex position. The defenders also shot down an enemy Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicle.

Rocket and artillery units struck 5 enemy concentration areas, an air defence installation and an enemy ammunition depot.

Belgium banned TikTok because of concerns about cyber security, privacy and disinformation. The Chinese-owned video-sharing app will be temporarily banned from Belgian federal government-owned or -paid-for facilities for at least six months.

Lithuania celebrates Independence Day today. We congratulate everyone on their victory and wish it to Ukraine as soon as possible. Ukraine congratulates us all and reports that the defenders have eliminated a total of 1010 Russian invaders, destroyed 10 tanks, 20 armoured fighting vehicles and 8 artillery systems in a day. In addition, the enemy lost 2 Batfire jets, an air defence vehicle, an operational tactical level UAV, 7 vehicles and 2 pieces of special equipment.

Comment

The latest terrorist Russian missile attack on Ukraine's civilian infrastructure was one of the largest in recent months. On Thursday, Russia fired more than 80 missiles to hit Ukraine's air defences and paralyse the country's energy system. This terrorist attack differed from previous missile attacks in that Russia used more sophisticated supersonic missiles, which are the most advanced weapons in the arsenal of war criminals. Nevertheless, like previous such strikes, they did not cause lasting damage to Ukraine's energy grid. Repair crews quickly restored electricity supplies in many regions.

General Valery Zaluzhnyj, Commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said that Russia fired 81 missiles and eight Iranian-built Shahed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), while Ukrainian air defences shot down 34 missiles and four UAVs. According to Zaluzhnyj, the missiles included six Kijal supersonic missiles, and Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ikhnat stressed that Ukraine does not have the means to shoot down these missiles, as well as the older Kh-22 anti-ship missiles that were used in Thursday's strikes.

"The Kizhal missile is one of Russia's most advanced weapons. The ballistic missile, launched from a MiG-31, can reach targets up to 2 000 kilometres away, but its most important feature is that it travels at 10 to 12 times the speed of sound, making it difficult to shoot down. Thanks to its supersonic speed and its heavy warhead (about half a tonne), Kijal can destroy highly fortified targets such as underground bunkers or mountain tunnels. In theory, the missile's accuracy is within one metre, but for the Russians, as always, one metre often translates into hundreds of metres or even kilometres.

The targets and damage caused by Russian strikes remain unclear, but it is clear that Russia is facing an increasing shortage of state-of-the-art weapons, and that the production of new ones is too slow to compensate for the quantity already spent. The British Ministry of Defence noted on Friday that the intervals between Russian missile strikes have become longer, probably "because Russia now needs to build up a critical mass of newly manufactured missiles straight from industry before it can deliver a strike large enough to convincingly defeat Ukraine's air defences".

The Kizhal missiles were fired by the Russians from MiG-31 fighter jets, some of which are deployed in Belarus. The Ukrainian army said that six older Kh-22 missiles were fired from Tu-22M heavy bombers.

The Kh-22 flies at more than three times the speed of sound and has a range of 600 kilometres. Developed in the 1970s by the Soviet Union, Kh-22s are designed to strike US aircraft carriers and other warships. Its supersonic speed and 630 kg payload make it highly explosive, but its outdated guidance system in the hands of Russian terrorists makes it even less accurate when used on land targets.

Russia has also launched the Kh-101 advanced cruise missile, carried by strategic bombers, and the Kalibr cruise missile, launched by warships. The long-range, high-precision missiles are subsonic, and the Ukrainian army claimed to have successfully dealt with them.

Another part of the Russian strikes were S-300 air defence missiles, which are used by Russia against ground targets located at shorter distances from the front line. Although its relatively small payload does not have the same destructive power as the above mentioned weapons, Russia has a large stockpile of missiles for the S-300 systems and Ukraine has very limited capability to take them over.

Russia has also used some shorter-range air-launched missiles carried by fighter jets and Iranian drones. The Ukrainian military has said that it has been increasingly successful in dealing with them, shooting down most of the drones launched in each attack.

Russia is trying to overwhelm Ukraine's air defences by using many types of missiles and drones in a single massive attack. Having heard and analysed the various analysts' and experts' assessments of these missiles, we believe that the most reliable way to counter further Russian attacks using both different types of missiles is not only with ground-based anti-aircraft/missile defence, but also with Western fighter jets, armed with air-to-air missiles.

In this photo, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky carry flowers at the memorial wall of the defenders of Ukraine who died in the Russia-Ukraine war, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 10, 2023 (Press service of the Ukrainian president via AP).

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