Ukraine Conflict: Day 21

After three weeks of fighting, yesterday’s renewal of attacks does not seem to have produced a clear breakthrough for Russia. Footage from across the enormous country indicates more supplies, troops, and war materiel being moved towards the combat theatre, with US officials indicating that 75% of Russia’s military strength is now being directed to the war effort. Meanwhile, a peace plan has been drafted between Ukrainian and Russian high-level ministers, according to the FInancial Times; in an indication of the military situation, Russia appears to have dropped or diluted all of its original demands.

Adding to the losses from yesterday’s airstrike on Kherson, a Russian helicopter was shot down near Mykolaiv today.

Evacuating civilians from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhie allegedly shelled by Russian troops, according to Ukraine. 11,000 civilians are believed to have evacuated from Mariupol thus far.

Russian airstrikes on Mariupol destroyed a swimming pool and a theatre. The Donetsk Regional Drama Theatre was allegedly packed with 1,200 civilians, and had the word ‘children’ written in front and behind it to deter attacks. This would seem to be such an obvious warcrime that one must also consider the possibility of it being staged. Mariupol’s defenders include the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, which should not be considered above such tactics throughout its 8 year war in East Ukraine. Conversely, the Russian Air Force should not be absolved of blame simply due to the cartoonish villainy of the deed.

Heavy damage to buildings in and around Kharkiv due to continued Russian shelling.

Ukraine has become a member of the EU Energy Union, with its national grid synchronised to the EU’s. This should ensure a reliable supply of power to the region despite Russia having captured a significant chunk of Ukraine’s domestic power production, via the nuclear power stations in Chernobyl and Enerhodar.

A series of explosions were reported across 6 cities in Belarus. The cause is unclear, and may be related to terrorism or anti-war unrest. Vladimir Putin today addressed his ministers where he railed against a ‘fifth-column’ of anti-Russian ‘traitors’ whom he accused of attempting to destroy the country from within.

In Kiev, shelling continued in outlying districts to both east and west of the city. Brovary has been the target of several Russian attacks and bombardments over the past weeks. The Ukrianian authorities announced that they had captured over a hundred Russian saboteurs in recent days; the curfew announced on day twenty has presumably contributed to distinguishing these saboteurs from residents, while decryption of Russian comms and plans may have alerted the defenders to an incoming wave of sabotage efforts.

A tanker has transited the Bosphorus straits carrying Russian crude oil to the US, despite an import ban on Russian oil.

The UK is now sending Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, according to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. 4,000 anti-tank weapons, primarily the easy-to-use and effective NLAW ATGM, have been sent so far. The US has cleared another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine, including 800 anti-aircraft systems, thousands of anti-tank weapons, and armed combat drones.

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