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analysis of damage in Mariupol shows widespread attacks across residential areas

March 20, 2022

An initial analysis of damage in Mariupol shows widespread attacks across residential areas
Analysis of satellite images for a section of Mariupol found evidence of widespread damage across residential neighborhoods. At least 391 buildings in the study area were observed to have been damaged or destroyed in a part of the city that is dotted with schools and health facilities.

The analysis, by Unitar-Unosat, a United Nations research group, examined structures within a section of the eastern district of Livoberezhnyi. The group compared a satellite image captured on March 14 this year with imagery from June 2021.

Damaged structures included seven schools and four health facilities, according to the report. Livoberezhnyi, meaning “Left Bank,” is one of the city’s four administrative districts and is home to about 120,000 residents.

Russian forces have laid siege to Mariupol for nearly three weeks. Incessant shelling has blocked efforts to evacuate people and send aid, leaving the nearly half a million residents trapped with dwindling supplies of food, water and medicine.


"Ukrainian forces appeared to be losing their grip Saturday on Mariupol"

Today at 12:39 a.m. EDT|Updated today at 3:40 p.m. EDT

Ukrainian forces appeared to be losing their grip Saturday on Mariupol, with Russian forces advancing farther into parts of the besieged southern port city.

Fierce fighting for control of the strategically important city continued to hinder search and rescue efforts for hundreds of civilians believed trapped beneath the rubble of a theater after Russia bombed it Wednesday. Other major population centers, including Kyiv and Kharkiv, remained in Ukrainian hands, as the Pentagon estimated that Russia’s troops were “stalled across the country.”

As the death toll rose, the United Nations said Friday that about 9.8 million of Ukraine’s 44 million people have fled or been internally displaced. Ten humanitarian corridors were opened Saturday to help civilians flee, according to Ukrainian officials.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russian forces of committing war crimes by blocking deliveries of critical aid to people remaining in embattled cities. He called for “meaningful negotiations” with Moscow.


Mixed signals from Ukraine's president and his aides leave West confused about his end game

The mounting death toll in Ukraine has forced President Volodymyr Zelensky to consider concessions to Russia in order to bring an end to the devastating conflict, but the specific elements of any peace deal his government may be discussing with Moscow remain a mystery to Western leaders, said U.S. and European officials.

The secretive rounds of meetings between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators could hold the key to ending the conflict but also carry broader implications for European security depending on how the warring parties settle their differences. If Russian President Vladimir Putin can use military force to compel political change in Ukraine, he could use the same tactic elsewhere, U.S. and European officials fear.

The prospects of a near-term deal look bleak, diplomats say, but mixed signals from Zelensky about how close he is to striking an agreement have only heightened anxiety about the trajectory of the negotiations.

Russian forces commit war crimes by blocking aid, Zelensky says
Russia has sought to pummel Ukraine into submission through artillery barrages, cruise missile strikes and a severing of supply routes that have prompted a humanitarian disaster and forced more than 3 million people to flee the country.


Russian Forces Push Into Center of Besieged Mariupol

Source: NY Times

Live Updates: Fighting Moves Into Center of Mariupol; War Displaces 1 in 5 Ukrainians

After weeks of Russian troops' encircling and shelling the strategic coastal city, tank battles raged on its city streets on Saturday. In eastern and southern Ukraine, millions have fled or are cut off from humanitarian aid.

As the battle for the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol has moved into the center of the city, with tank battles raging on Saturday after weeks of devastating missile barrages, the United Nations estimates that one in five people in Ukraine have been internally displaced or have fled the country since Russia’s invasion began.

The speed at which the humanitarian catastrophe has spread reflects the vast destruction unleashed by Russian forces on civilian targets. In Mariupol, which has held out for weeks amid such a brutal assault, an adviser to the Ukrainian president said on Friday, “There is no chance for lifting the siege of Mariupol.”

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/

A Sobering Analysis from The Royal United Services Institute

First, some background info on this Royal charted think tank:

The Royal United Services Institute has been at the heart of military and security thinking for over 190 years. The Duke of Wellington and a number of other senior military commanders established the Institute in 1831, and some of the most influential thinkers in the 19th and 20th centuries worked or spoke at RUSI.


Their analysis on the current situation in Ukraine:

Indeed, the inability of Russian forces in the north to make ground after an operational pause has led some analysts to question whether the Russian army can in fact encircle Kyiv at all. In other theatres, Russian forces have made few gains against major cities, having captured only Kherson in the south so far, although it is likely that they will also take Mariupol.

However, an exclusive focus on cities – though understandable – may obscure more than it reveals. Though it seems clear that the initial Russian plan was based around a swift coup de main against Kyiv while the bulk of the Ukrainian army was pinned in the east opposite Donetsk and Luhansk, this is unlikely to remain the case. Even under best-case assumptions (from a Russian perspective), it is unlikely that Kyiv will be taken soon. However, it is worth considering that there is a second Ukrainian centre of gravity – alluded to by Vladimir Putin in his pledge to ‘demilitarise’ Ukraine – the regular Ukrainian army, most of which remains near Donetsk and Luhansk under the aegis of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO).

The position of this force is looking increasingly precarious as Russian forces advance to encircle it on three axes. Russian forces of the 58th Combined Arms Army and 22nd Army, pushing north from Crimea, have commenced assaults on Beryslav along the Dnieper, and appear likely to link up at Polohy with Russian separatist forces and the Eighth Combined Arms Army advancing from Donbas. Elements of the First Guards Tank Army and Sixth Combined Arms Army advancing past Kharkiv also appear to have largely eschewed attempts to take the city – focusing instead on reducing it with artillery while bypassing it as they advance south and west past Poltava, cutting the JFO off from escaping northwards. Finally, in the southwest, Russian forces of the 20th Guards Motor Rifle Division appear similarly intent on bypassing Mykolaiv but, notably, may not be advancing on Odessa. Instead, they appear to be advancing north, which could suggest a desire to seize the western banks of key crossing points over the Dnieper.

Viewed in conjunction, these advances present a troubling picture whereby the Ukrainian forces opposite Donetsk and Luhansk are at risk of encirclement on the eastern side of the Dnieper. If this is indeed the focus of Russia’s approach, then the emphasis on Russia's ability to take major cities as a metric of success will have been an analytical error, as Russia appears more intent on pinning Ukrainian forces in cities like Kharkiv while it bypasses them. Indeed, preparations for an amphibious assault on Odessa may have been a feint, given that the ground forces such an assault could have linked up with appear to be moving north.


Much more sobering and in depth analysis at the link.

"Russia's military progress slows, but it makes gains in the south and east"

Even as a missile strike on Friday hit the outskirts of Lviv, a Ukrainian city that had been spared much of the Russian assault, the latest intelligence assessments indicate that Russian forces are still struggling to capture more territory as they try to push across Ukraine.
The British defense intelligence service said on Friday that Russian forces had “made minimal progress this week,” and that Ukrainian forces around the capital, Kyiv, had continued to frustrate Russian attempts to encircle the city.
Russia’s recent territorial gains have been mostly in the south and east of the country, including in the areas around Mariupol, according to assessments by Western governments and independent analysts. Russian forces have advanced from the southern city of Kherson, which they have captured, toward Kryvyi Rih, closer to the center of Ukraine.

Russia also continued its assaults on Mariupol from the east and west on Thursday, and on Friday its Defense Ministry said that Russian forces and Russia-backed separatists were “tightening the noose” around the city. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russians were carrying out the “total destruction of civilian infrastructure, housing and livelihoods.”

The cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Sumy in the north and northeast remain encircled and subject to heavy Russian shelling, British defense intelligence said.


Why can't this be stopped?

The heroic Ukrainian Armed Forces have been sacrificing everything to fight the invasion, yet are unable to defend major cities from this destruction.

How can we, the US and NATO, actually put an end to this TERRORISM and save tens of thousands of innocent lives?

Ukrainian President Zelensky says NATO's Article 5 "has never been as weak as it is now"

Source: CNN

In an address on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his call to close Ukrainian airspace after a night of air alarms heard "almost all over" the country.

"Each of the more than 800 Russian missiles that have hit our country is an answer to a long-standing question about NATO — whether the doors of the alliance are really open for Ukraine," Zelensky said while speaking from his office Tuesday afternoon. "If they were open, if it was honest, we would not have to convince the alliance for 20 days to close the skies over Ukraine, to close from the death being brought by the Russian Air Force. But ...they don't hear or don't want to hear us yet."

He went on to call out NATO's Article 5, the principle of collective defense, "weak" as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.

"Some states of alliance have intimidated themselves, saying that they can't answer. That they cannot collide with Russian missiles and planes in the Ukrainian sky. Because this, they say, will lead to escalation, will lead to the Third World War. … And what will they say if Russia goes further to Europe, attacking other countries? I am sure the same thing they say to Ukraine. Article 5 of the NATO treaty has never been as weak as it is now. This is just our opinion," he said.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/europe/live-news/ukraine-russia-putin-news-03-15-22/h_d9b893d94a3533f0d79d3d7447cd64d1

Resident of Mariupol paints grim picture of situation: "This is horror"

A resident of the besieged city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine has recorded a video diary of the desperate situation in the city.

Here is what the resident said:

"The town of Mariupol, March 13. The 18th day of the war. The town is besieged....
There’s no humanitarian aid and will not be. The evacuation of peaceful people is impossible. People are in a devastating situation. Water, food are coming to an end, people are forced to break into shops, in search for necessities , including logs - it’s minus 7 right now . And here’s what we see in every shop.
Russian military vehicles and also from DNR [the Russian-backed Peoples Republic of Donetsk] are not ashamed of air strikes, the town is under air strikes, and shelling from grads and mortars...
There are thousands of victims among peaceful civilians… in all parts of the city! I've been on the left side, now I am in Illicha [a district of Mariupol] … It’s like a meat grinder here.
We feel bitterness, desperation — this land has been soaked with this …
Russians came here under a reasonable, in their view, proposition, but they sowed despair fear, bitterness … they have taken away our peace … They are killing us … That’s what’s happening … The town has no electricity for 13 days, no heating, water … And the world doesn’t know what’s happening here…
This is horror… Here’s our good morning... "


"Where Russians have been making hard-fought gains"

March 11, 2022

Although Russia has not captured major cities in recent days, its invasion is far from stalled. Russian forces continue to make gains, pushing into smaller cities and encircling larger ones. Troops have been nearing Kyiv, the capital, and also closing in on key cities in the South and the Northeast.
But even Russia’s slow progress encircling major cities has put enormous pressure on Ukrainian civilians, some of whom lack electricity and running water. And Ukraine’s military remains on the defensive as Russia consolidates its positions outside major cities and threatens to isolate large numbers of Ukrainian troops or force them to retreat.
Outside Kyiv, Russian forces gained control of the town of Bucha several days ago and moved southwest in an attempt to encircle the capital. They were also approaching Kyiv from the east, with heavy fighting involving a line of Russian tanks reported in the suburb of Brovary, according to videos posted online on Thursday.
Russian forces continue to have the upper hand in the south. Their offensive on Mykolaiv continued as they worked to encircle the city from the east, with troops conducting offensives radiating out.
Some troops have pushed up as far as Oleksandrivka, not far from the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, the country’s second largest. Others have made their way to the north and northeast of Mykolaiv toward Kryvyi Rih, though no sustained offensive has been reported.


Click on link for the labelled map.

Russian tanks advance towards Kyiv from east

Issued on: 09/03/2022 - 22:46

Over the last five days, the Russians have advanced more than 80 kilometres (62 miles) on the northeastern front and are getting close to the Ukrainian capital.

The Ukrainian officer in camouflage points towards the north, where the motorway stretches empty to the horizon between snow-covered fields. "The Russian tanks are just over there, two kilometres away," he said, ordering a civilian vehicle to turn round and go back, due to the danger from Russian forces. "Drive in a zig-zag to avoid their shots," he advises the driver.

The Russian tanks are stationed just a few kilometres away from Kyiv's city limits. Last Saturday, the Russians were about 80 kilometres further up this road, on a level with the city of Chernihiv.

This advance along the motorway from the north brings Russian tanks just to the east of Kyiv, heightening fears that they could soon encircle the capital. Russian tanks are also just a few kilometres from the city to its northwest.


FYI: france24.com has some excellent on-site reports that give a human perspective into the invasion with poignant photography that unfortunately could not be directly linked when I posted the OP.
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