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Ukraine Conflict: Day Seventeen

While fighting and shelling rages across all fronts, there is no evidence of significant gains by either side on day seventeen.

Russia has announced that it will treat western arms shipments to Ukraine as ‘legitimate military targets’. This likely does not mean they will attempt to interdict transport planes over Poland; the weapons are arriving at Rzeszow-Jasionska Airbase, which is well defended by NATO fighter patrols and surface to air missiles (SAMs), including Patriot missile defence systems. 

However, we could soon see large-scale strikes on the road and rail infrastructure connecting Poland and Ukraine, on the Ukrainian side of the border. Russian strategic bombers (Tu-95 and Tu-160) have been spotted by satellite massing at Engels Air Force Base.

Kiev and Chernihiv

A Russian MLRS system was destroyed north of Kiev by a Bayraktar TB-2 combat drone, according to the Ukrainian military. In addition, satellite imagery shows a large grass-fire in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Ukraine has claimed that the Russians intend to set up a logistics base close to the functional power plant, where it will be ‘too risky’ to be attacked.

Ukrainian Special Forces (believed to operating east of Kiev, but unconfirmed) captured another Eleron-3 recon drone from Russian forces.

The Russians apparently lost 3 tanks near Chernihiv, one abandoned in working condition.

The following footage shows Ukrainian soldiers receiving weapons instruction in the use of a Polish single-use RPG. The soldiers in the background are apparently carrying Zastava M70AB2 underfolding AK rifles, presumably donated by a nation from the former Yugoslavia.

South Coast

In the south of the country, anti-occupation protests continue in the port city of Berdyansk.

Two Russian helicopters were shot down, allegedly near Kherson. One pilot survived with serious injuries.

Following the capture of Volnovakha yesterday, Russian tanks continue to push into the outskirts of Mariupol.

The advance of apparently unsupported vehicles leads to a thoroughly predictable outcome. Here a Ukrainian Marine is pictured next to a burned-out tank, with a destroyed APC also pictured.

According to the Zaporizhzhian administration, Russian troops have seized control of buses loaded with humanitarian aid destined for Mariupol, in the vicinity of Polohy. The distinction between food and medicine intended for civilians, and food and medicine intended for soldiers, would appear to be a fine one.

Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk

Heavy shelling continued in Severodonetsk, Luhansk, while local forces claim to have shot down a Russian plane. Meanwhile, a bridge has been blown up near Donetsk in order to slow the advance of Russian units.

Separatist forces continue to release footage of captured Ukrainian vehicles.

As fighting and shelling continues around Kharkiv, the Ukrainians claim to have captured enemy saboteurs tasked with blowing up urban infrastructure.

Likely from previous fighting, a dozen destroyed and abandoned vehicles litter the roads near Kharkiv.

Summary

With little sign of progress for the past few days, the Russian invasion appears to be going nowhere at present. In order to achieve a victory on the ground it will be necessary to increase the attrition rate of Ukrainian soldiers and weapons systems, which will require cutting off the Ukrainian city garrisons from resupply by NATO nations. We shall see how this develops over the next few days.

Photo Credit: Ukraine Ministry of Defence. CC-SA-2.0.

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