What are Russia’s plans now and what is being done to disrupt them?
Assessments of what Russian troops are trying to accomplish in Ukraine differ. The Wall Street Journal cites unnamed U.S. intelligence sources as saying that Russia has abandoned trying to take Kiev for now, focusing on securing the corridor in southeastern Ukraine from Crimea to Russian territory. Russian troops are also still trying to bypass Mykolaiv and advance to Odessa.
According to sources, Russia will continue shelling Ukrainian cities to force President Zelensky to accept Russian demands. Putin also does not rule out occupation of the entire country. He will expand his targets depending on how well the Russian army does on the battlefield.
The general staff of the Ukrainian Army claims that Russia has significantly decreased the use of aviation in Ukraine due to the success of Ukrainian air defense in recent weeks. Still, cities such as Chernigov, Kharkov or Sumy remain under heavy shelling for weeks, partially or completely without water, electricity or gas.
However, the latest British intelligence report insists that Kiev remains Russia’s main target even though its advance stalled after fierce Ukrainian resistance. Heavy fighting continues in the area with the bulk of Russian troops 25 kilometers from Kiev. Despite the security risks, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering a visit to Kiev.
Amid the warning that Belarus could join the Russian invasion, Franak Vyachorka, advisor to opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, claims that many Belarusians are successfully sabotaging the preparations, targeting mainly the railway infrastructure. Ukraine confirmed that “thanks to the actions of friendly Belarusians” there is now no railway connection between the two countries, which would help deepen the logistical problems of Russian troops in northern Ukraine.
International support for Ukraine
Volodimyr Zelenski addressed Israel’s Parliament yesterday comparing Russia’s actions in Ukraine to those of the German Nazis in World War II and recalling Vladimir Putin’s use of the phrase “solving the Ukrainian question” just as the National Socialists did with “solving the Jewish question.” He criticized Israel for lack of military aid and for closing the country to Ukrainian refugees. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has tried to act as a mediator between the Russian president and Ukraine with the aim of securing a meeting in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Bide will travel to Poland on Friday to discuss international efforts to support Ukraine and “impose severe and unprecedented costs on Russia.” Poland has accepted more than 2.1 million Ukrainian refugees so far. The country’s leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, suggested days ago that a NATO peacekeeping mission could be sent to Ukraine. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas Greenfield maintained that U.S. troops would not be sent to Ukraine, but that other NATO members may decide to do so.
According to U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Dalip Singh, Washington is considering imposing even larger sanctions against Russia, which could “further affect their banks, more sectors” and focus mainly on gas and oil
In an interview with CBS, the Chinese ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, has denied that China has sent arms and ammunition to support Russia’s war in Ukraine and that Beijing would “do everything possible to de-escalate the crisis.” According to Bloomberg, due to global sanctions, economic cooperation between Russia and China has deteriorated. Chinese companies are trying not to buy coal, liquefied natural gas and crude oil from Russia by being more cautious to avoid U.S. sanctions.