The map of the Russian advance: Kiev, Kharkiv and Chernhiv resist the offensive

Of Andrea Marinelli and Guido Olimpio

We are fighting in Chernhiv, in Kharkiv, on the outskirts of Kiev: the military and civil resistance of the Ukrainians rejects the offensive. The oil depot on the outskirts of the capital and a strategic gas pipeline in Kharkiv have been hit

The start of negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations on the border with Belarus does not stop the fighting, as Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov clarified. Vladimir Putin’s army – which today put the nuclear defense system on alert – continues to advance on several fronts: from the north and northeast it points to Kiev, from the east it attacks Kharkiv, from the Crimea and from the Donbass it goes back to the country. After meeting a strong opposition in Chernhiv in the north, Russian troops bypassed the area and marched on the capitalwhich aim to encircle and isolate: missiles continue to rain on Kiev and, for the second night in a row, the Ukrainian military and civil resistance fought at the gates of the city with the Russian irregular forces, the saboteurs who arrived behind enemy lines. Several videos documenting the destroyed vehicles: one in particular shows an entire column incinerated in Bucha by the devastating fire of the resisters. Others the tanks ended up in rivers or mired. Always difficult to verify the reliability of everything that transpires. According to the Pentagon, Moscow has not yet achieved total control of the skies allowing rivals to conduct some sortie. An interesting detail.

For the first time, the Russian army has admitted that its soldiers have been “killed or wounded” in Ukraine, but without providing numbers. “The Russian military displays courage and heroism in combat during the special military operation,” Russian army spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on television. “Unfortunately, there are deaths and injuries among our fellow soldiers.” Russian sources quoted by Bloomberg contest the pessimistic picture made by Westerners e provide some insights.

1) The General Staff has taken into account an intervention period of two to three weeks and not two days.

2) There was never any intention to occupy cities.

3) The hope is to defeat the adversaries and establish a friendly government. The explanation, on the one hand, is reminiscent of the fable of the fox and the grapes. On the other hand, it can have a foundation, it matches the idea of ​​somehow demilitarizing Ukraine. The battalions guard the strategic hubs, create a sort of siege, without risking exposing the military to the traps encountered in these hours.

Meanwhile, the Vasylkiv oil depot has been heavily hit, not far from Kiev: city authorities have warned that the burning site emits toxic fumes. It is just one of the sites hit by more than 320 missiles fired. To the south, the Moscow army encircled Kherson and Berdiansk. The movement of reinforcement contingents arriving from Belarus is always intense. To the south, in Mariupol, the advance was slowed down by logistical problems. However, the Russian military is experiencing an acute shortage of fuel and food, the Ukrainian military reports, so the Minsk railway infrastructure is actively used for the purpose of delivering supplies. A growing demand given that the Kremlin has now deployed two thirds of its device.

A night bombardment anticipated the dawn raid inside Karkhiv, the second largest city in the country, where a strategic gas pipeline was hit. Russian troops have had a hard time. The images tell it: a vehicle on fire at a crossroads; four other Tigr armored vehicles, also Russian, abandoned and damaged after being ambushed. Again: a team of invaders proceeds on foot, alongside the vehicles, along a road. The Ukrainians wait and then open fire. The Russians disperse, a battle arises. Fighters wear identification cloth strips on their camouflage to avoid friendly fire. Ukrainians wear yellow or blue ones, Russians sometimes have red or white ones on their arm and leg.

The Spetsnaz (elite troop) and the Razvedchiki explorers, a unit of military intelligence that are often at the forefront of this type of missions, act. No tanks were seen, at least at the beginning. Perhaps the command wanted to “test” the opposing defenses and it was not a real attack. At the same time, analysts note, it is extremely difficult to proceed with only light means. Also because the Ukrainians were waiting to make the raiders pay a high price. Any intersection can hide an ambush, any house can hide a sniper or a soldier with an anti-tank system. Sometimes RPGs are enough, anti-tank rockets that are not really sophisticated but that become insidious in urban areas. Even Molotov cocktails thrown on a craft can have an impact, especially if there are recruits on board.

Ukrainians have released pictures of some saboteurs captured in built-up areas. These actions could be part of a campaign orchestrated by the FSB’s Fifth Service – intelligence – and ordered by Dmitry Kozak, deputy director of staff of the Kremlin. Former Spetsnaz member, long-time Putin-related, it moves within institutions but also outside traditional hierarchies.

According to a report by the British institute Rusi has prepared a plan entrusted to a department made up of several dozen elements headed by an officer, Sergei Baseda. These are the objectives.

1) Creating fractures in Ukrainian society using NGOs and associations.

2) Counting friends and enemies within the political / military / industrial apparatuses. For the researchers, the services managed to infiltrate security.

3) Collect data for subsequent operations, even clandestine. It is possible that the Kremlin has cultivated the idea of ​​a showdown from within, a way to shorten the timing of the offensive. A strategy pursued by the US when they invaded Iraq in 2003: they hoped for the silver bullet that would liquidate Saddam. We know how it turned out.


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