Surovikin’s Monday Strategy — Another Week Begins With Massive Russian Strikes
Moscow's new commander in Ukraine has changed the timing of when to strike cities and infrastructure.
For the fourth straight Monday morning, Kyiv and other major Ukrainian cities have been subjected to a major air assault by Russia. At 8 a.m., the first missiles and air strikes were reported across Ukraine, again targeting critical infrastructure.
A large-scale air alert was declared throughout the country, as explosions hit Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Vinnytsia, Cherkasy, and Kirovohrad regions.
In the capital Kyiv, a missile hit the facility that supplies electricity to 350,000 apartments; with no light or water in vast stretches of the city, with emergency repairs trying to move as fast as possible.
In Ukraine’s second biggest city, Kharkiv, rockets hit a critical infrastructure facility, knocking out service in the subway and ground electric transport. There is severe damage in Dnipro and Pavlohrad, as well as Zaporizhzhia, where there is a partial lack of electricity and water.
The President's Office warned about Ukrainian cities' massive shelling and emergency power cuts. In many regions of Ukraine, including Lviv and Chernihiv, there are power outages and problems with telephone and Internet connection.
This time Russia launched more than 80 missiles from the Caspian Sea. Forty-four of them were shot down by Ukrainian air defense.
"Instead of fighting on the battlefield, Russia is at war with civilians. Do not justify these attacks by calling them a "response." Russia is doing this because it has more missiles and a desire to kill Ukrainians," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote.
Ukrainians note that in past months of the war, attacks on targets were carried out on weekends. That changed after the Oct. 8 appointment of General Sergey Surovikin to the post of commander of the Russian army in Ukraine, with a new strategy of attacks beginning at the start of the working week, when there is a possibility of more casualties and disruption of the ordinary course of business.
Turkey Tries To Salvage Grain Initiative, As 12 Vessels Leave Ukrainian Ports
Grain shipments leaving Ukrainian port
After Moscow’s weekend withdrawal from the Black Sea grain initiative, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey is determined to keep it alive.
“One third of the world’s wheat is produced by Russia and Ukraine. You are the closest witnesses of our efforts to deliver this wheat to the countries facing the threat of famine,” Erdogan told an audience at the 8th Turkish Medicine Congress in Istanbul on Monday. “We provided 9.3 million tons of Ukrainian wheat to the world and helped to relatively ease the food crisis… We will continue our efforts with determination for the service of humanity.”
This statement comes after Russia announced on Saturday that it will suspend its participation in the United Nations-brokered grain deal with Ukraine due to an alleged drone attack on the Crimean city of Sevastopol.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet on Sunday that Russia was using this attack as an excuse, “By suspending its participation in the grain deal on a false pretext of explosions 220 kilometers away from the grain corridor, Russia blocks 2 million tons of grain on 176 vessels already at sea — enough to feed over 7 million people,” Kuleba said. “Russia made the decision to resume its hunger games long ago and now tries to justify it.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on “a strong international reaction” to Russia’s suspension from the grain deal, especially from the UN and the G20.
Still, it’s not clear what the effects are so far of Russia’s intentions to block grain exports, as 12 vessels left Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on Monday. Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, said the UN and Turkey would inspect the ships, a process that takes place near the Turkish city of Istanbul. One of the ships that set sail on Monday was loaded with 40,000 tons of grain, destined for Ethiopia. The vessels contain around 354,500 tons of grain and other agricultural products.
UK Report Says Russian Reservists Have Reached Front Lines, But Are Under-Equipped
According to a report by British intelligence released on Monday, Russia has deployed several thousand newly mobilized reservists to the front lines in Ukraine since mid-October, many of whom are not properly equipped. The British Ministry of Defense said that many Russians sent to the front lines were done so without weapons, or with weapons like AKM assault rifles, which were first introduced in 1959.
After a mobilization in late September, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that they would conscript people who had served in the army and had combat experience. However, numerous cases were recorded of conscription of individuals without training, and without real military experience.
Ukrainian Refugees In UK Face Possible Homelessness
Thousands of Ukrainian refugees who fled to the UK after Russia’s invasion on February 24, may now face homelessness. The British government's Homes for Ukraine scheme, which provides Ukrainian refugees with a host home for a minimum of six months, is about to end.
Council leaders have warned ministers to act urgently in order to prevent a homelessness crisis among the Ukrainian refugees. But local authorities responsible for overseeing the scheme say they are struggling to find people to take in the refugees. The District Councils Network said that it had received many reports of hosts deciding not to rematch.
At the moment, 4,000 Ukrainians are looking for sponsors, according to the Ukrainian Sponsorship Pathway, a charity set up to support the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Berlusconi Pressures Zelensky, Calls Putin A “Man Of Peace”
Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin in 2019
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a key member of Italy’s current governing coalition that formally backs Ukraine, has again offered a perspective on the war that is far out of step with the rest of the Western coalition.
After repeating that he supports “a free and democratic country like Ukraine,” Berlusconi suggested that if the West reduced its support of Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would be forced to negotiate with Russia.
Speaking on prime time Italian television Sunday night, Berlusconi was asked how to end the war: “If at a certain point Ukraine understood that it couldn’t count anymore on arms and aid and if, instead, the West promised to send it hundreds of billions of dollars for reconstruction … in this case maybe Zelensky could accept to sit down at the table and negotiate.”
Berlusconi had stirred controversy earlier this month by boasting that he had sent gifts to his “friend” Putin. In the Sunday interview, he called Putin a “man of peace,” and said he had tried in vain to speak to the Russian president in the first days of the war.
Norwegian Border Town, A Possible “Staging Ground” For Russia To Divide And Conquer
A small town in Norway near the border with Russia is facing a tense standoff with its giant Russian neighbor. The Kremlin is accused of using the area as a staging ground for its policies to divide the West.
The latest escalation in a series of events occurred last Saturday when Russian Consul General Nikolai Konygin was set to give a speech in the town of Kirkenes to commemorate the Red Army’s liberation of the town.
Konygin, who was accompanied by visitors the Russian border city of Nikel, was met with Norwegian protesters who turned their back on the Consul General during the speech and began waving Ukrainian flags.
But the implications of this diplomatic showdown in a town of 3,600 stretch far beyond Norway's borders. Some believe that the Kremlin has used the region in the past as a testing lab for stoking internal divisions in the West. Read more here.