Itʼs been a year since the full-scale invasion began. During this time, the Russians didnʼt achieve any of their strategic goals. Ukraine has retained its statehood and is moving even more actively towards joining the EU and NATO. It was not possible for Russians to occupy Kyiv and overthrow the Ukrainian government, as well as to completely seize Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Russia has declared Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions as its territories, but it doesnʼt fully control any of them.
The Russians had their greatest “success” in March 2022, when they took control of almost 150,000 square kilometers, or 25% of the territory of Ukraine. Later, the Ukrainian army liberated 40,000 square kilometers. Parts of six Ukrainian regions and the Crimean peninsula remain occupied.
Ukraine is preparing for a counteroffensive. The Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reported that they are actively working on it, and the terms will depend on the supply of Western equipment. The counteroffensive is expected to begin in the spring. Its main goal is “to drive a wedge into the Russian front in the south between Crimea and the Russian mainland.”
For the first time, China took a position on the invasion of Russia. There it was called a “peace plan” to end the war in Ukraine. The Chinese project consists of 12 points and contains neither deadlines nor steps that Ukraine and Russia should take in order to achieve peace. China calls for an immediate ceasefire and to sit down at the negotiating table. On the one hand, the Chinese authorities advocate respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries. Therefore, it shouldnʼt recognize the annexation of Ukrainian territories. On the other hand, China is asking to stop supplying weapons to the conflict zone — and Ukraine and the West wonʼt agree to this.
At the same time, Western media reported that China may start supplying Russia with weapons. Now this refers to kamikaze drones and ammunition. China denies it, but American intelligence confirms that itʼs possible.
The Chinese economy is self-sufficient and in terms of GDP exceeds the Russian one by almost ten times. It will be able to support Russia in a war of attrition for a very long time. However, it also depends significantly on the export of goods to the West and the USA. And China does not want to fall under sanctions.
On the evening of February 22, explosions rang out at Russian bases in Mariupol. The Mariupol City Council confirmed that there were at least 11 of them. There were also explosions on February 23 and 24. The Ukrainian Armed Forces said that the Russians did not expect strikes on their bases in the occupied city and panicked. It is more than 75 kilometers from Mariupol to the front line. To get to it with HIMARS and MLRS, they have to be brought almost to the combat zone itself, which is very dangerous, because the Russians will be able to detect and destroy them. So, the Ukrainian army has weapons capable of striking at greater distances. What this is is still unknown. Natalia Humenyuk, spokeswoman for the South Operational Command, only noted that the direction of Mariupol for the Armed Forces “is no longer completely unattainable.”
There is an ongoing conflict between the founder of Wagnerʼs PMC Yevgeniy Prigozhin and the Russian Ministry of Defense, which allegedly stopped supplying ammunition to the “Wagnerites”: on February 21, Prigozhin publicly accused the Russiaʼs Chief of the General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu of this. For several days, he recorded messages criticizing the Russian Ministry of Defense, and even published photos of dozens of bodies of Russians who allegedly died due to “shell hunger.” Finally, on the morning of February 23, Prigozhin announced that ammunition had begun to be shipped to the “Wagnerites”, and he stopped criticizing the MoD.
On February 23, the Russian Ministry of Defense began to create informational tension around the Moldovan region of Transnistria, which is controlled by the Russian Federation. It was reported there that Ukraine is preparing for an “armed provocation against Transnistria” and plans to involve the Azov unit in it. Earlier, pro-Russian Telegram channels wrote that Kyiv was amassing troops and armored vehicles near Transnistria. Both Ukraine and Moldova deny this.
Perhaps Russia seeks to divert attention from reports that Ukraine intercepted and passed on to Moldova a Russian plan to destabilize the country and seize power. Against the background of these news, the government in Moldova changed. On February 10, the Prime Minister of the country Natalia Gavrilita announced that she was resigning, and already on February 16, a new government was appointed. Former Secretary of the Security Council Dorin Rechan chaired it. He immediately noted that security for the country will be one of the key priorities, and called for the withdrawal of Russian “peacekeepers” from Transnistria.
On the morning of February 26, explosions rang out at the “Machulyshchi” airfield, which is near Minsk in Belarus. Later, the head of the Belarusian civil association BYPOL said that they were arranged by Belarusian partisans. They attacked the airfield with drones and seriously damaged the Russian A-50U long-range radar detection aircraft. It flew over Belarus, could scout the territory of Ukraine and detect air defense positions and radars. It was protected by Russian fighter jets, in particular the MiG-31K hypersonic missile carrier. Because of it, an air alert is always announced throughout Ukraine.
In the Kharkiv region, the front line doesnʼt change. The Russians still control a very small area in the northeast, near the Russian-Ukrainian border. They are trying to advance in the direction of Kupyansk and want to push back the Ukrainian army beyond the Oskil River.
In the Luhansk region, the Russians are trying to advance every day, but they have no success. Over the past 10 days, they have advanced several hundred meters only in certain directions. The main fighting continues in the area of the village of Dibrova and in the forests south of the town of Kreminna.
On the southern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River — the administrative border between Luhansk and Donetsk regions — the Russians continue to press on the villages of Bilohorivka, Verkhnyokamyanske, and Spirne. They are important for the Ukrainian defense, as they cover the flank of the military, which restrains the Russians behind Soledar, and prevents them from reaching Siversk quickly and simultaneously from several sides. The Russians have been unsuccessfully storming these positions since the summer of 2022.
The situation around Bakhmut is becoming more critical for Ukrainian defenders every day. The occupiers are making the most of their efforts north of Bakhmut. After several weeks of fighting, they captured the villages of Paraskoviyvka and Krasna Hora, and cut the Slovyansk-Bakhmut highway. The occupiers probably immediately sent reserves to the place of the breakthrough, very quickly reached the villages of Yagidne and Berkhivka, and captured them. In order to stop the advance of the Russians, the Ukrainian Defense Forces had to blow up the dam on the Berkhiv Reservoir, flooding the north of Bakhmut.
The next target of the Russians is the village of Khromove. The last more or less safe road to Bakhmut from the city of Chasiv Yar passes through it. Up to 10 kilometers remain between the positions of the Russians, who are trying to surround Bakhmut. If the Ukrainian defenses are breached, the invaders will be able to quickly cut off all communications, and the defenders of the city will be surrounded.
In Bakhmut itself, the Russians pressed harder in the eastern part of the city and almost completely captured it. Most likely, Ukrainian troops will retreat beyond the Bakhmutka River and defend themselves in the western part of the city.
To the south of Bakhmut, the offensive of the invaders was almost completely stopped. The Russians have not reached the road from Kostyantynivka to Bakhmut, but they are already shelling it, so it is impossible to provide the city with it. In the southern part of Bakhmut, the occupiers continue their assault and try to get to the main entrance from the west, but so far they have not succeeded.
The occupiers also became active around Avdiivka, which they have been trying to surround since the beginning of the invasion. To the north of the city, they came close to the villages of Krasnohorivka and Vesele, for which battles continue. The rest of the attempts to get closer to Avdiivka were unsuccessful.
The Russians advanced a little beyond the village of Pisky. They captured it in October and began to storm the next village of Pervomaiske, but almost without results — they advanced only a few hundred meters. Therefore, they are now trying to bypass it along the ponds from the side of the village of Vodyane.
Fierce fighting continues in the town of Maryinka, where the Russians cannot advance beyond the central street. They make more efforts to go around the city from the north and south. The Russians even broke through to the village of Pobieda, south of Maryinka, but retreated due to heavy fire from the Ukrainian army.
The Russians are not successful in the battles for Vuhledar either. The situation there doesnʼt change: the occupiers have lost a lot of equipment and people and are still unable to break through the Ukrainian defenses. The Ukrainian army effectively uses the fact that Vuhledar is located at a height, and regularly destroys the positions of the Russians in the surrounding villages.
In the Zaporizhzhia region, the front line remains unchanged. In January, the Russians tried to advance simultaneously in several directions, but they did not succeed. They turned back and since then they only attack point-wise to seize a few positions or control the “gray” zone.
In the Kherson region, the front does not change either — it has stabilized along the Dnipro River. Ukraine and Russia continue sabotage raids on the opposite coast and islands.
On February 24, the first Leopard 2 tanks arrived in Ukraine. A batch of four vehicles was sent by Poland. The Poles are to hand over 10 more such tanks, as well as 60 Soviet T-72s and their Polish modernization PT-91 Twardy.
Over the past 10 days, many countries have reported that they are also ready to transfer Leopard tanks to Ukraine. On February 24, Sweden announced that it would send 10 of its Stridsvagn 122 tanks to Ukraine, a licensed copy of the German Leopard 2A5. In Spain, they also announced that they would hand over 6 or 10 such tanks. Canada and Germany have announced that they will send four additional tanks each. Finland will also transfer tanks, but special ones. These are three Leopard 2Rs that donʼt have cannons and are armed only with a machine gun. Their main purpose is to demine territories.
Ukraine is discussing the supply of aircraft with the West. The main efforts are now focused on starting to train Ukrainian pilots — it takes a lot of time. Poland and Great Britain announced their readiness to start training. President Volodymyr Zelensky said that there are three more such countries. But they are ready for this only under the condition of a joint decision of all NATO allies.
The United States announced on February 24 that it was allocating a new $2 billion military aid package to Ukraine. It was announced by US President Joe Biden when he visited Kyiv on February 20. The package will include additional ammunition for HIMARS, 155 mm artillery shells, and four types of drones: CyberLux K8 (quadcopter), Switchblade 600 and Altius-600 kamikaze drones and Jump-20 reconnaissance ones.
On February 21, Prime Minister of Italy Giorgia Meloni also visited Kyiv. She confirmed that Ukraine will receive the French-Italian air defense system SAMP-T, which can shoot down ballistic missiles. In addition, Italy will transfer the Skyguard and Spada anti-aircraft missile systems.
Translated from Ukrainian by Anton Semyzhenko.
We monitor the situation at the front every day. You can support Babel anytime and now too: 🔸 in hryvnia 🔸 in cryptocurrency 🔸 via Patreon 🔸 or PayPal: [email protected]