Another day with bombardment and a parallel set of NATO meetings in Belgium and Poland. Disinformation dominates the messaging with the Russian claim that they’ve entered a “second phase”, and the toll from the bombing of the Mariupol theatre building is now 300 dead.
The #Russian General Staff issued a fictitious report claiming Russia’s primary objective is to capture the entirety of# Donetsk and #Luhansk oblasts.
The Russian General Staff issued a fictitious report on the first month of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on March 25 claiming Russia’s primary objective is to capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Sergei Rudskoi, first deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, gave a briefing to Russian press summing up the first month of the Russian invasion on March 25. Rudskoi inaccurately claimed Russian forces have completed “the main tasks of the first stage of the operation,” falsely asserting that Russia has heavily degraded the Ukrainian military, enabling Russia to focus on the “main goal” of capturing Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
Rudskoi’s comments were likely aimed mainly at a domestic Russian audience and do not accurately or completely capture current Russian war aims and planned operations. Russia’s justification for the invasion of Ukraine from the outset was the fictitious threat Moscow claimed Ukrainian forces posed to the people in Russian-occupied Donbas. The Kremlin has reiterated this justification for the war frequently as part of efforts to explain the invasion to its people and build or sustain public support for Putin and the war. Rudskoi’s framing of the capture of the rest of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts as the “main goal” of the operation is in line with this ongoing information operation.
Rudskoi’s assertion that securing the unoccupied portions of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts was always the main objective of Russia’s invasion is false. The Kremlin’s initial campaign aimed to conduct airborne and mechanized operations to seize Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and other major Ukrainian cities to force a change of government in Ukraine. Rudskoi’s comments could indicate that Russia has scaled back its aims and would now be satisfied with controlling the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, but that reading is likely inaccurate. Russian forces elsewhere in Ukraine have not stopped fighting and have not entirely stopped attempting to advance and seize more territory. They are also attacking and destroying Ukrainian towns and cities, conducting operations and committing war crimes that do not accord with the objectives Rudskoi claims Russia is pursuing.
- The Russian General Staff is attempting to adjust the war’s narrative so make it appear that Russia is achieving its aims and choosing to restrict operations when in fact it is not achieving its objectives and is being forced to abandon large-scale offensive operations because of its own failures and losses as well as continuing skillful Ukrainian resistance.
- Ukrainian forces claimed to kill the commander of Russia’s 49th Combined Arms Army, operating around Kherson.
- Ukrainian counterattacks northwest of Kyiv made further minor progress in the past 24 hours.
- Ukrainian forces additionally conducted a successful counterattack east of Kyiv in the past 24 hours, pushing Russian forces east from Brovary.
- Russian attempts to encircle Chernihiv remain unsuccessful.
- The military situation in northeastern Ukraine did not change in the past 24 hours.
- Russian forces continue to take Mariupol street-by-street and have entered the city center.
- Russian forces did not conduct any offensive operations around Kherson in the past 24 hours.
Russia appears to have lost more troops than Ukraine so far in the war, and has killed more civilians than Ukrainian soldiers, initial data suggests.
Around five Russian soldiers have died in the war for every Ukrainian soldier as of March 18, according to Telegraph analysis of a database of conflict reports compiled by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).
Yet the data also indicates that for every Ukrainian soldier reportedly killed in combat, three civilians have lost their lives as a result of Russian attacks on heavily populated areas.
The analysis draws on a database of reports of deaths compiled by ACLED that so far covers an estimated 2,273 fatalities in Ukraine between February 24 and March 18.
The estimates are conservative, with the true loss of life likely much higher. ACLED, an organisation that tracks conflict globally, only records deaths confirmed by a basic level of detail on the ground.
Nonetheless the data provides an initial window into the human cost of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has now entered its fourth week.
The database so far suggests that as of March 18 the war has seen at least 1,240 Russian military deaths, 243 Ukrainian military deaths and 731 civilian deaths.
- Firstly, the generals said Russia had always intended only to 'liberate' the Donbas, that was what it set out to do. It had two options: fight a war in the east, but allow Kyiv to replenish its forces, or start off by knocking out Ukrainian military capacities across the country.
- Over a month of war, Russia has knocked out most of Ukraine's military capacities, the generals claimed, so can now move on to next phase, which will only be focused on the east, which could involve heavy bombardment.
- Russia had never intended to capture Kyiv, Kharkiv and other cities, the generals said - these are not setbacks in other words, it's all part of the plan. And the plan was to distract Ukrainian forces while Russia/ Donetsk/ Luhansk made territorial gains in the east.
- Numerous statements made about not targeting civilian infrastructure, avoiding civilian casualties.
- Defence ministry briefing also shared a new official figure for the number of Russian soldiers killed, the second statement by Russian side during the course of this war. Said 1,351 were killed - figure is far below Ukrainian and international estimates.
- Here's the full English text of the briefing per military's translation just now eng.mil.ru/en/special_ope…
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"The venue was being used as a bomb shelter and an enormous inscription reading “CHILDREN” was posted outside in Russian, visible from the skies above ."
- Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of Russia's General Staff Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy claims the "special military operation" ordered by Putin had two "options": Limit operation to Donbas or attack across all Ukraine...
- Rudskoy said Russia chose to attack across all Ukraine in order to stretch Ukrainian forces thin so they couldn't reinforce forces in the Donbas. But that goes against what we've seen & seems to be face-saving comment after an embarrassing performance, failure to secure victory.
- Rudskoy claims Rus never intended to storm Kyiv, etc. & falsely states all "Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mykolaiv" are "blocked" by Russian forces. Russia does control large areas near those key cities & still pounds them with artillery.
- Rudskoy says "Kherson & most of the Zaporizhia region are under full control." Again, he claims this was planned all along, and that controlling these areas now will help as Russia focuses its attention on capturing all of the Donbas.
- Rudskoy also claims the Russian military "defeated 16 major military airfields in Ukraine" and "39 storage bases and arsenals...which contained up to 70% of all stocks of military equipment, materiel, and fuel, as well as more than 1 million 54 thousand tons of ammunition."
- We'll see if changes on the ground in coming days indeed show a shift in Russia's focus and switch to more limited goals after a disastrous military performance that's seen 1000s of troops killed & wounded, 1000s more weapons destroyed & lost, & goal of Kyiv's surrender fail.
- Here's a link to Interfax's report with Rudskoy's comments, which were also reported by RT Russian and other state-run outlets:
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General Shamanov was even more pessimistic, as he grimly anticipated that it would take the “re-education” of at least two generations of Ukrainians before they would welcome or tolerate Russia’s dominance. He also noted that Russia’s one-million-man armed forces aren’t enough to meet such a challenge, calling for massive increases to the country’s military might. Shamalov concluded: “Today, it can be clearly predicted that we will have to remain in Ukraine for 30-40 years.”