Like a David facing the Goliath that constitutes the second Army in the world, Ukraine has managed to stop the advance of the Russian troops. The Ukrainian resistance ―“firm and well-coordinated,” as defined by the British Ministry of Defense in its latest report― retains most of the country’s territory in its hands. The advances of the Russian troops in recent days, adds the text prepared by British espionage, are “minimal”. The Russian invasion is “stalled” and Moscow continues to suffer heavy casualties. However, the price Ukraine pays is getting higher and higher. In the early hours of Thursday, Ukraine’s emergency service reported another attack on a residential building in kyiv. In Chernihiv (north) 53 civilians died only this Wednesday, according to the governor of the region, Viacheslav Chaus. In Mariupol, under siege for 13 days, Russia bombed a theater where “hundreds of civilians” were sheltering, including many children, according to the Ukrainian authorities.
The poor advance of Russian troops has forced Russia to send more reinforcements to the front three weeks after the start of the war against Ukraine. The loss of troops and the Ukrainian resistance have forced the Kremlin to mobilize more fighters despite the massive deployment with which it surrounded the country since November last year, an operation to which, according to Western intelligence reports, it spent more than half of their armed forces. Despite this, now it’s time to move soldiers from occupied Georgia, mercenaries from the Middle East and more reserves from Russia’s far east onto the ground.
The information has been publicly confirmed by people close to the Kremlin. “Our boys are going to Ukraine to put an end to the Nazis who are terrorizing his people,” the former president of the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoiti, wrote on his Telegram channel on March 15. The former president of the territory claimed by Georgia and that gave rise to the 2008 war accompanied his message with images of soldiers from the 4th National Guard Base on their way to Ukraine. “They are very motivated, I have spoken with many. They will avenge our brothers! There are relatives and friends of those who died in Ukraine!” Kokoiti said.
A British Defense Ministry report the same day noted that the Kremlin “is relocating forces from as far afield as the Eastern Military District (in Siberia), Armenia and the Pacific Fleet. In addition, it intends to use even more irregular forces from private military companies, Syria and other mercenaries.”
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After slowing down its offensive inside Ukraine, London believes that Russia “intends to use these forces to hold onto captured territory and free up its army to relaunch stalled operations.” In addition, he believes that the “continued loss of personnel will make it difficult for Russia to secure the occupied territory.”
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, approved at a meeting of the Security Council held on March 11 that foreigners be recruited to reinforce operations in Ukraine, and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigú acknowledged that his army was considering sending more than 16,000 mercenaries from the Middle East.
The dispatch of troops from other regions of the world could also be an attempt by the Kremlin to reduce the impact of the deaths on Russian society. “Sergei Kuzhugetovich (Shoigu) spoke mainly of volunteers from the Middle East, Syria and other countries. Our citizens were not discussed,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, stressed at the time. “That has not been discussed,” he clarified when asked by the press if the Kremlin was also contemplating mobilizing Russian volunteers for a campaign whose motivation, as Moscow has insisted all this time, was to fight against an alleged genocide of the population it considers “pro-Russian”.
7,000 Russian casualties
The United States estimates that 7,000 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine, according to information from New York Times. Between 14,000 and 21,000 could be wounded, out of a total of 150,000 Russian soldiers participating in the war. That could mean that most of his combat units are low, unable to perform combat actions.
Ukraine has warned, however, that to continue containing Russian troops, it needs more weapons. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for more international support with sanctions and weapons, including air defense systems, weapons and ammunition to deal with the Russian Army. He also continues to insist on demanding the closure of Ukraine’s airspace, a measure ruled out by NATO, which fears a direct military confrontation with Russia. “How many more people do you have to kill for Western leaders to say ‘yes’ to a no-fly zone or to give us the fighter jets we so badly need?” .
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians, meanwhile, remain trapped in cities harassed by Russian troops. Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said Thursday that she hopes nine humanitarian corridors can be opened to evacuate the population of besieged cities subjected to constant bombing. Vereshchuk has said that one of the towns where the authorities hope to open a safe path to remove civilians is expected to be Mariupol, a city in southeastern Ukraine with access to the Azov Sea that had about 400,000 inhabitants before the war. .
Mariupol, precisely, suffered one of the worst attacks on Wednesday with the bombing of a theater where “hundreds of civilians” were sheltering, according to the Ukrainian authorities, and which had two large signs painted on the ground outside the building where you could read in Russian the word “Children” written in large characters, the satellite company Maxar Technologies has revealed. The situation in the city, which was able to evacuate some 20,000 civilians for the first time this week since the encirclement by Russian troops began more than two weeks ago, has been described as “apocalyptic” by the Red Cross. Residents have no water, electricity or heating, and local authorities reported days ago that what little food was left was running out.
This city, which has become the icon of attacks on civilians in Ukraine, is key to the Kremlin, as it is the last major town in the hands of kyiv with access to the Sea of Azov and its capture would allow Moscow to create a corridor from the Donbas, where the pro-Russian separatist entities of Donetsk and Lugansk are located, to the Crimean peninsula, illegally annexed by Russia in 2014 after a referendum that the international community does not recognize
Moscow, meanwhile, continues to deny attacks on civilians, despite mounting evidence against it. Not only in terms of the targets at which these attacks are directed – hospitals, schools, residential areas – but also in terms of the means used, and among those that have already been denounced, by the United Nations and organizations such as Amnesty International – the use of weapons that do not allow discrimination between military and civilian targets, such as the so-called “dumb bombs” (without an intelligent guidance system) and cluster munitions.
On Wednesday, a delegation from the International Criminal Court (ICC), led by its chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, traveled to Ukraine to investigate on the ground the possible commission of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country. Kahn declared, already in the country, that “deliberate attacks against civilians constitute a crime that we will prosecute.” The ICC investigation is being carried out at the request of 40 member countries, an initiative hitherto unprecedented. Neither Ukraine nor Russia are signatories to the Rome Statute, the founding convention of the ICC, so in principle, they fall outside the jurisdiction of this court. However, kyiv has empowered the court to investigate possible crimes committed since 2014, with the Russian annexation of Crimea. The TPI could persecute the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and the leadership of the Kremlin individually – if it considers that there are sufficient indications for it – which would prevent the president from stepping on any of the 130 States that are part of the Court, to risk of being arrested.
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