As the day begins, geolocated footage reveals that the Russians have made more progress that Western media have so far admitted.
In the northeastern sector, footage has emerged of Russian armour, infantry, and artillery near towns and rural locations significantly advanced from what as been generally considered to be the ‘front’ of the conflict. As we speculated on Saturday, it appears that the northeastern salient has extended and continues to threaten the encirclement of Chernihiv, a city to the northeast of Kiev. This push has covered two-thirds of the distance between the Russian border and Kiev, making an advance of approximately 200km.
Russian tanks have also been filmed in the region between Kharkiv and Sumy. Sumy may be attacked from both north and south as the day progresses.
In East Ukraine, Shulginka village to the south of Starobilsk has been captured by Russian forces.
Fierce fighting has continued in Kherson, in the south, as Rusian forces attempt to secure a bridgehead across the Dnieper River. To the West of Kherson, in the city of Mykolaiv, footage indicating fighting or bombardment has emerged, including burned-out vehicles. The capture of Mykolaiv would isolate Kherson from the West and expose its only other land connection, the road to the north.
Russian forces have made progress around Berdyansk towards Mariupol, in the South.
The Kakhova Dam over the Dnieper has apparently been breached by Russian forces, enabling large quantities of water to flow into the North Crimean Canal for the first time since 2014. Following the Russian takeover of the Crimea, Ukraine severely restricted the supply of water to the Crimean peninsula, reducing the availability of water for irrigation to as little as three hours’ worth per day for local farmers. Reports in May 2021 indicated that Crimean agriculture had been devastated by this, in contrast to Russian official statistics. The restoration of the North Crimean Canal is a surprising piece of good news for local farmers, although of course it is dwarfed by the broader scale of the conflict.
Germany Doubles Defence Spending
Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced an increase in Germany’s defence budget from €53 billion to €100 billion. This major increase will push Germany’s military spending above the 2% commitment required by NATO, which it has historically ignored. It also signals the first major attempt to build an effective German national military since the reunification of East and West Germany, following the collapse of the USSR three decades ago.
Media and Misinformation
The armoured vehicle filmed running over a civilian car on Day Two has been positively identified as a Ukrainian Strela 10 Air Defence System. The unqualified assertion that it was a ‘Russian tank’ has now been seen by millions of internet users, and no retractions appear to be forthcoming.
Numerous photos of Ukrainan Premier Volodymyr Zelensky in combat gear that are currently circulating the internet are now demonstrated to have been taken years prior to the current conflict. Zelensky does seem to be present in Kiev as of his public video on Day Two, however.
With large amounts of footage being posted and misattributed to the current conflict, and the media in ‘war mode’, journalistic due diligence appears to be taking a hiatus for the duration of the fighting in favour of pro-Ukraine propaganda. We at Ukraine Observatory sympathise with the Ukrainian people in this terrible war, but strongly condemn the use of fake footage, disinformation, and mendacious propaganda.
Russian Media Banned
The EU has today banned Russia Today and Sputnik. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accused Russia Today of ‘peddling lies’ and being ‘harmful to the truth’. Fortunately, we are able to access paragons of impartial, fact-based reporting via the BBC and CNN.
Russian Banks Disconnected From SWIFT
Following pressure from multiple Western governments, many Russian banks have been disconnected from the Belgium-based, international SWIFT banking consortium messaging system.
Some banks have remained connected in order to service Russian national debt payments, as well as financial transactions for the large quantities of Russian energy which the USA and others continue to import.
This move may prompt Russia to develop its own independent international banking services, possibly in collaboration with the People’s Republic of China. There are workarounds to SWIFT as a payment order service, which many Russian banks operate, such as telex.
NATO Response Force Activated
For the first time in its history, NATO has activated its Response Force for a ‘deterrence and defence role’. This is a force of potentially 40,000 regular troops from predominantly European countries.
Calls For Foreign Volunteers
In an interview today, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss encouraged British citizens to volunteer for fighting in Ukraine. President Zelensky has previously called for foreign volunteers to join the war in Ukraine. In the context of state support for Ukraine and encouragement of military volunteers, it is hard to call Britain a neutral party in this conflict.
Russia’s Nuclear Deterrent On Standby
The conflict may yet become nuclear. NATO’s response to the invasion has so far seen billions of dollars poured into Ukraine alongside masses of modern weaponry and calls for foreign volunteers, to say nothing of punitive sanctions that one BBC writer described as ‘economic war’. Numerous air assets have also been patrolling the skies of Europe, including nuclear-capable bombers. Russian President Vladimir Putin today released a statement that Russia’s nuclear deterrent force has been moved to high alert, in response to ‘aggressive statements’ by NATO leaders.
Putting this statement in the context of his speeches on Monday 21st February and Thursday 24th February, this is another threat for NATO and the West to ‘back off’ or face a potential nuclear attack.
With Western politicians and journalists glued to the increasingly polarised information ecosystem of Twitter, it is doubtful whether they even hear these threats being made.
Peace Talks Opposed By US State Department
When the conflict broke out last Thursday, one colleague cynically observed that there would be ‘rivers of champagne flowing through the military-industrial complex tonight’. The reason, he explained, was that we were now entering a huge demand spike for military hardware. With Germany today doubling its military spending, it appears he was correct.
An early peace would put a stop to this fiesta, and it is perhaps for this reason that the US State Department has voiced strong opposition to the prospect of peace talks between Zelensky and Putin. According to the US, a unilateral ceasefire and withdrawal by Russian troops must be the precondition to any negotiations.
The Russians proposed Hemel in Belarus as the venue for peace talks, which Zelensky rejected, citing Belarus’ non-impartial nature (Russian troops have been entering Ukraine via Belarus). A number of other venues have been counter-proposed, including Warsaw (Poland), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary), Almaty (Kazakhstan), and Baku (Azerbaijan).
At 5pm local time, it was announced that Russian and Ukrainian diplomats will meet for negotiations at the Ukrainian-Belorussian border, without preconditions. Conflict remains ongoing.
A curfew remains in place overnight. The Ukrainian Army has said that those found outside their homes during curfew will be treated as Russian saboteurs. Air raid sirens continue.
A missile hit an apartment block in Kiev either today or yesterday. The origin and type of the missile has yet to be confirmed, with many Western outlets assuming it to be a Russian cruise missile.
Large explosions appear to show the destruction of a Ukrainian tank farm, for storing fossil fuels.
Firefights continue throughout Kiev as Russian armoured columns move through the Northern outskirts of the city. Their progress is unclear but appears to be limited, particularly during night fighting.
Russian advances on Chernihiv from the north continue to be repelled, with footage emerging of an ambushed Russian convoy and numerous destroyed vehicles.
Russian convoy ambushed near Chernihiv
Wreckage of a downed Ukrainian Su-25 close air support plane was found near Kherson today, although it appears to have been shot down yesterday. Wreckage of a BMP-3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and an abandoned Ukrainian self-propelled gun (SPG) near Mykolaiv indicate that fighting has been fierce in this sector.
Footage emerged of allegedly an NLAW anti-tank weapon being used to effect against a Russian T-72 tank near Sumy. A bogged down Russian T-90 tank and 2S3 Acacia SPG have also been found in this sector, along with the amusing scene of two Tussian T-80U tanks that appear to have driven into each other. There are clearly significant Russian forces involved on the approaches to Sumy, but little progress in taking the city as yet.
The city of Kharkiv continues to see some of the heaviest fighting in the war. A destroyed Ukrainian armoured personnel carrier (APC) has been noted, alongside numerous photos of an ambushed and destroyed Russian infantry mobility vehicle (IMV) convoy that appears to have been carrying Special Forces. The discovery of a rocket motor crashed into a residential area shows that the Russians are making intense use of multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) for the siege of Kharkiv. There is also footage of a captured Russian supply truck.
In the south of the country, the notorious Ukrainian neo-nazi ‘Azov Battalion’ has released footage of a captured BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) near Mariupol. There has also been footage of a Russian armoured convoy moving through Berdyansk en route to Mariupol, where the Azov Battalion appears to be based.
There have been several explosions in and around oil and gas pipelines in Ukraine, the footage of which has been shared widely.
Volodymyr, a Ukrainian town just 9 miles from the Polish border, has allegedly been ‘shelled’ by Russian troops. Whether this constitutes artillery shelling, rocket bombardment, or simply a lone missile remains unclear.
The Donetsk People’s Republic has released footage of a captured M141 Bunker Defeat Munition, supplied to Ukrainian forces by the US.
Turkish-made Bayrakhtar TB-2 drones are apparently being used by the Ukrainians against Russian armoured convoys, although verifiable footage is currently scarce.
Stay Up To Date
Subscribe to our mailing list to receive daily in-depth summaries and analysis of the conflict in Ukraine.