Ukraine Daily Summary - Thursday, February 22

Russia lacks strength to fully capture Luhansk, Donetsk oblasts in 2024 -- North Korean missiles used by Russia against Ukraine contain US, European components -- Iran supplies 'hundreds of ballistic missiles' to Russia -- Russian citizens attending Navalny vigils reportedly given draft summonses -- and more

Thursday, February 22

Russia’s war against Ukraine

An instructor trains a civilian to operate an FPV drone during a course for civilians and military personnel run by Ukraine’s Kruk Academy for Drone Operations on Feb. 21, 2024 in Kyiv. With stocks of mortars and artillery shells in short supply, FPV drones, which are cheap to produce, have become increasingly crucial on the front lines. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Budanov: Russia lacks strength to fully capture Luhansk, Donetsk oblasts in 2024. Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov noted that despite recent advances, the Russian military also faces problems. With its professional army largely destroyed in the first year of the full-scale war, Moscow resorts to using waves of untrained conscripts.

UK Defense Ministry: Russia intensifying attacks near Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Following the capture of Avdiivka, Russia has intensified its offensive efforts across several sectors of Ukraine’s front line over the past week, likely in order to stretch Ukrainian forces, the ministry wrote.

Report: North Korean missiles used by Russia against Ukraine contain US, European components. A North Korean ballistic missile fired into Ukraine by the Russian military last month contained hundreds of components produced by companies in the U.S. and Europe, the Conflict Armament Research (CAR) organization announced in a recent report.

Zelensky to hold conference with military, political leadership on ‘Ukraine’s future path.’ President Volodymyr Zelensky is planning to hold a conference on Feb. 25 with Ukraine’s military and political leadership to discuss the future of the country as it enters the third year of the full-scale invasion, presidential spokesperson Serhii Nykyforov said on national television on Feb. 21.

Reuters: Iran supplies ‘hundreds of ballistic missiles’ to Russia. Iran sent 400 missiles, including “many from the Fateh-110 family of short-range ballistic weapons” that have a range of up to 700 kilometers, three Iranian sources told Reuters.

Russia used 2 Zircon hypersonic missiles in Feb 7 attack, expert says. Russia launched two 3M22 Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles during the large-scale attack against Ukraine on Feb. 7, Oleksandr Ruvin, director of the Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise, said in an interview with Vechirniy Kyiv on Feb. 21.

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Blinken, Lavrov to attend G20 talks in Brazil with focus on Ukraine, Gaza. Blinken and Lavrov previously met in person at last year’s G20 summit in New Delhi, India.

Poll: Only 10% of Europeans believe Ukraine can win war. The poll was conducted across 12 European countries before the fall of Avdiivka on Feb. 17.

Zelensky pledges ‘quick steps’ in response to blockade of Polish-Ukrainian border. President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed the ongoing border blockade of Polish farmers with Ukrainian officials on Feb. 21 and said Kyiv would take the next steps “very quickly.” He didn’t specify what these steps would entail.

Infrastructure Ministry: Ukraine plans to bypass Poland border issues by adding new Danube export route. Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov told Bloomberg at the Munich Security Conference, which concluded on Feb. 18, that the new route would be “more predictable” than exports overland into Poland.

SBU detains suspected spy accused of aiding Russian strikes on Kharkiv. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) detained a Kharkiv resident who was allegedly aiding Russian attacks on the city’s civilian infrastructure, including a Jan. 23 strike that injured nine people, the SBU’s press service reported on Feb. 21.

Foreigners allowed to serve in Ukraine’s National Guard. Foreigners and “stateless persons” will be allowed to serve in Ukraine’s National Guard, according to a decree signed Feb. 21 by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Read our exclusives

10 years of war: A timeline of Russia’s decade-long aggression against Ukraine

Almost immediately following the end of the EuroMaidan Revolution in Ukraine in February 2014, Russia swiftly moved to annex and occupy the Crimean Peninsula. Within a couple of months, unrest erupted in eastern Ukraine followed by Russian-backed militias taking over administrative buildings. The events mark the start of Russia’s 10-year invasion and occupation of Ukraine that continues to this day.

Photo: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images

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‘20 Days in Mariupol’ can win an Oscar. Will it make the world care about Russian war crimes in Ukraine?

“My brain will desperately want to forget all this,” narrates journalist Mstyslav Chernov over footage he filmed of city workers adding bodies to a mass grave in Mariupol, “but the camera will not let it happen.” At the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Chernov, along with his Associated Press colleagues, were the last international media left reporting from the besieged city of Mariupol.

Photo: Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images

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Ukraine war latest: BBC reports Ukrainian HIMARS strike in occupied Donetsk Oblast kills dozens of Russian troops

Ukrainian troops launched two HIMARS missiles against a Russian military training ground in occupied areas of Donetsk Oblast’s Volnovakha district where Russian troops were stationed, killing at least 60, the BBC reported on Feb. 21, citing undisclosed sources.

Photo: Serhii Mykhalchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

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Human cost of war

Russian attacks against Ukraine kill 3, injure at least 22. Russia targeted a total of nine Ukrainian oblasts — Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kherson, Kharkiv, and Sumy. Casualties were reported in the latter five regions.

General Staff: Russia has lost 406,080 troops in Ukraine since Feb. 24, 2022. Russia has also reportedly lost 6,516 tanks, 12,338 armored fighting vehicles, 12,861 vehicles and fuel tanks, 9,826 artillery systems, 992 multiple launch rocket systems, 678 air defense systems, 338 airplanes, 325 helicopters, 7,560 drones, and 25 warships and boats.

Opinions and Insights

Schwarzer: Will Europe ever get serious about defense?

“Europe’s strategic challenges are multiplying. It must bolster its economic security in the face of a more assertive China, improve relations with other countries beyond NATO, and build up its own defense. European leaders urgently need a plan to meet these goals,” writes Daniela Schwarzer, former member of the the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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International response

EU ambassadors agree on 13th package of sanctions against Russia. “This package is one of the broadest approved by the EU. It will undergo a written procedure and be formally approved for February 24,” the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council said on social media.

Reuters: EU to remove Yandex co-founder from Russian sanctions list. EU countries agreed to remove Arkady Volozh, co-founder of Russia’s most popular search engine Yandex, from the list of sanctions against entities and individuals associated with Russia’s war against Ukraine, Reuters reported on Feb. 21, citing three unnamed sources familiar with the discussions.

Switzerland cracks down on Russian sanctions evasion. Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said it had launched an investigative task force to enforce the sanctions and investigate 230 potential sanctions breaches.

UK announces sanctions against 6 Russians in charge of prison where Navalny was held. The U.K.’s sanctions will specifically target six individuals “responsible for the custody” of Navalny, ban them from traveling to the U.K., and have their assets frozen.

Bloomberg: Seizure of frozen Russian assets legal, experts say. A letter signed by international legal experts argues that the seizure of frozen Russian central bank assets to aid Ukraine would be lawful given Russia’s “ongoing breach of the most fundamental rules of international law,” Bloomberg reported on Feb. 21.

Poland warns of further trade restrictions if deal with Ukraine not reached. Polish Agriculture Deputy Minister Michal Kolodziejczak said that Polish Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski would hold talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Mykola Solskyi in the morning on Feb. 21 to discuss exports to Poland and see if an agreement can be reached.

Poland extends protection for Ukrainian refugees until June 30. Polish President Andrzej Duda signed the act on the protection of Ukrainian refugees, extending the legality of their stay from March 4 until June 30, Poland’s Presidential Office said on Feb. 20.

Russian media: China’s 3 biggest banks stop accepting payments from sanctioned Russian institutions. The restrictions have been introduced by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the China Construction Bank (CCB), and the Bank of China, the Russian state news outlet Izvestiya said.

Pentagon: US can deliver aid to Ukraine quickly once Congress passes funding. “So if you’ve seen with most of our PDAs (Presidential Drawdown Authority), we’ve been able to surge systems and capabilities pretty rapidly, within a few days,” Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said in response to a question on how quickly the aid can be delivered.

Bloomberg: US tells allies Russia may deploy nuclear anti-satellite weapon into space this year. The U.S. has told allies that Moscow could deploy a nuclear anti-satellite weapon or a mock warhead into space as early as this year, Bloomberg reported on Feb. 20, citing unnamed people familiar with the issue.

Polish farmer protests threaten Ukraine-Poland relations

Polish farmer protests threaten Ukraine-Poland relations

In other news

Kyiv Independent, Estonian Delfi win Bonnier prize for joint investigation. The Swedish media group Bonnier, along with the Estonian newspaper Aripaiv, gives the prize every year along with a 7,500 euro award. A total of 20 entries were nominated for the prize.

Poll: Fewer Ukrainians consider Poland ‘a friendly country’ than last year. The share of Ukrainians who perceive Poland as “a friendly country” has decreased from 94% to 79% since June last year, according to a poll by the Sociological Group Rating published on Feb. 21.

Media: Russian citizens attending Navalny vigils reportedly given draft summonses. Russian Telegram channels said that six people who were detained in St. Petersburg while attending makeshift memorial ceremonies were told that they “must report to the enlistment office within a few days to verify their information and register for military service.”

Update: US citizen arrested in Russia reportedly identified, faces up to 20 years in prison. The case reportedly centers around a $51 donation that the dual U.S. and Russian citizen, reportedly identified as Ksenia (Karelina) Khavana, is accused of making to the U.S.-based Razom for Ukraine charity group on the day that Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022.

Pro-Kremlin military blogger dead after reporting Russia’s losses in Avdiivka. Andrey Morozov, who wrote under the pseudonym “Murz” on Telegram, was a pro-Kremlin commentator who participated in Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russian state-run media and other military bloggers said he died by suicide.

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Martin Fornusek, Dinara Khalilova, Nate Ostiller, Lili Bivings, Elsa Court, Kateryna Denisova, Abbey Fenbert, and Olena Goncharova.

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