Ukraine Conflict: Day 27

Sirens have been sounding all over Ukraine as the intensity of missile bombardment and air raids remains high. According to the Ukraine Ministry of Defence, Russia conducted 80 sorties on day 27, with 29 of those sorties originating from Baranovichi and Baruisk airbases in Belarus.

While commentators are quick to point out the novelty of combat drones and their prominence in anti-vehicle sorties, this is also the first time that a country other than the US has used large-scale cruise missile bombardment in a conventional war (neglecting the Doodlebug rockets of WW2). This footage shows cruise missiles being launched from the Russian Black Sea Fleet, standing off Sevastopol (main city of the Crimea). 

Cyberwarfare continues against Ukraine’s information infrastructure. Cyberattacks against Ukraine’s central bank and Ministry of Defence ramped up in the buildup to the invasion, but Ukraine has proven surprisingly resilient to Russian hackers. Reading between the lines of statements by intelligence personnel from the UK and US, it would appear that a considerable amount of assistance in defending against Russian attacks has been provided by NATO allies.

This is claimed to be a destroyed R-330Z automated interference station, i.e. jamming system.

A Russian missile strike destroyed Pavlohrad-2 railway station, while Lozova was also hit by two missiles. Both of these towns sit on major infrastructure connecting West Ukraine to the front near Donetsk and Luhansk. Strikes against infrastructure here are consistent with Russia’s stated intention to isolate Ukrainian units along the Donetsk-Luhansk front in a ‘cauldron’ while effecting a strategic encirclement to the north (southeast of Kharkiv) and the south (from Polohy and Melitopol). 

In this map, the ‘cauldron’ of concentrated Ukrainian forces is indicated by a large red circle, with the major supply routes indicated in blue. Smaller red circles highlight Lozova and Pavlohrad, the location of Russian missile strikes on day 27.

Thus far, this ‘cauldron strategy’ appears to be hindered by two factors. Firstly, the Ukrainians have explicitly been trained in asymmetric operations including guerrilla warfare by Western allies, principally the US. This enables Ukrainian units to operate effectively against Russian logistics and supply routes in occupied territory for some time, after being disconnected from resupply routes. Secondly, the resistance of Ukrainian forces in this sector has prevented an effective strategic encirclement of forces in East Donbas, with three major supply routes remaining open.

Note that the maps we use are primarily for geographical reference, and there remains debate over the precise positions of the combat fronts and which territory constitutes occupied territory. For example, this map of Northern Ukraine prefers to avoid shading rural areas as ‘Russian controlled’, presumably on the assumption that the Russian Army is incapable of securing these areas due to poor maintenance practices reducing their off-road capabilities; there is also relatively little to capture. However, the overall impression on the eye is that the Russians have made far less progress into the country than a more generously-shaded map would imply. To illustrate this point, in the map of Northern Ukraine below, we have highlighted the areas in red which are cut off from resupply by Russian military, regardless of whether they can be considered ‘occupied’.

Russian artillery struck Avdiivka, on the Donetsk frontier. The Russian MOD claimed control of Verhkniotoretske village, in this region.

In Kharkiv, the Russian bombardment increased in intensity on day 27, with 84 incidences of shelling reported by the city administration. For comparison, Kiev reported just 20 shelling incidents today. 2 Orlan-10 reconnaissance drones were also claimed shot down by defenders in Kharkiv, with another one captured.

Clashes were reported in Trostyanets, between Kharkiv and Sumy.

Russian firing positions were recently identified by satellite imagery, northwest of Irpin, on the outskirts of Kiev.

Russian sources claim to have intercepted a Ukrainian ballistic missile over Belgorod, Russia, supported by this footage.

Footage from Russian drones is rare, but a video has emerged claiming to show just that. The location is north of Kiev, but the date of the engagement is unknown.

The Polish President Andrzej Duda has accused the Russian leadership of behaving like Hitler, and like the SS in Poland during the Second World War. 45 Russian diplomats are set to be expelled from Poland, accused of acting on behalf of Russian intelligence. Russia has stated that it will retaliate in similar fashion. Recent rhetoric against Poland and the Baltic states on Russian talk shows has been strident, to say the least.

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

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