Ukraine Conflict: Day Eighteen

After two and a half weeks, the Russians are yet to make any significant progress into Ukraine despite large attrition of vehicles and significant superiority in air power. 

Ukrainskiya Pravda has alleged the use of white phosphorus munitions by Russian forces in Popasna, Luhansk. This claim is as yet unverified. White phosphorus is commonly used as a smoke-producing agent for markers and smokescreens, but can also be used in incendiary munitions. The use of white phosphorus incendiaries in civilian areas is prohibited, though it has long been claimed that US forces used these weapons during the siege of Falluja, Iraq, in 2005.

The ‘NATO-Ukraine Partnership for Peace’ Yavoriv military base in Ukraine (near the Polish border) was hit by Russian airstrikes, killing several dozen and wounding many more. The USA has apparently been training Ukrainian soldiers at this location at a rate of 5 battalions per year for the past eight years, amounting to 40 battalions. This article from January 2020 shows the extent of US involvement in training and arming the Ukrainian military at this ‘partnership for peace’ base, including training the Ukrainians in NATO procedures for ‘full interoperability’:

Although Ukrainian troops do take part in battlefield exercises in Yavoriv, complete with demolitions and artillery fire, they also spend a lot of time in classrooms learning about subjects like NATO procedures in a potential battle. Ukraine’s military is currently working to achieve full “interoperability” with NATO. The U.S. soldiers are in Yavoriv to help the Ukrainians meet that goal.

American Homefront Project, January 2020

In addition, Ivano-Frankivsk International airport was damaged by Russian airstrikes.

An American photojournalist has been shot and killed by Russian troops north of Kiev. Brent Renaud, 50, was allegedly filming the evacuation of civilians from the Irpin district, scene of much fighting during the second week of the conflict, when he was shot. Two other journalists were wounded in the attack and taken to hospital.

A Ukrainian mufti apparently joined the fight against Russian invasion, while members of the Ukrainian Jewish community have also been pictured in battle gear. 

Starlink remains operational for civilians in Ukraine, as the following clip shows. The inability of Russian troops and electronic warfare specialists to disrupt Ukrainian communications is a telling sign 

The following clip shows Ukrainian troops on the march amid significant snow, probably from several days ago. The presence of this clip on TikTok and the number of soldiers with their smartphones out testify to low levels of operational security.

Shelling continues around Ukrainian cities. This clip shows a night bombardment in Milovo, Kharkiv oblast.

A Russian bridging group was allegedly destroyed by drone strikes near Hostomel, north of Kiev.

According to an unnamed US Defence official, Russia recently asked China for military supplies. Although this has been reported widely in western media, both Russia and China deny the allegation. A large amount of the reported information concerning the conflict originates from ‘an unnamed US Defence official’ and should be treated with due skepticism. Nevertheless, the density of on-the-ground footage in Ukraine will quickly reveal whether any Chinese supplies are actually sent. 

A Russian command vehicle was captured by the 10th Mountain Assault Division, most likely around Mariupol or in the Donetsk-Luhansk region. UAV footage from a Ukrainian recon drone shows an attack on Russian forces in Mariupol. A modernised Ukrainian BMP-1 was also destroyed in Vonovakha recently.

Ukraine claims it has inflicted enormous Russian vehicle losses from fighting near Vasylivka, Melitopol area, including this drone strike on a command post. While extravagant claims of 200 destroyed vehicles have been made, the more likely scenario is significantly lower. The location of this footage is unverified.

Photo Credit: Фото: Павло Парфенюк, Ukraine Ministry of Defence. CC-SA-2.0.

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