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Geopolitics

How Ukrainian Forces Have Thwarted Putin’s Blitzkrieg Plans

The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began Thursday morning on multiple fronts was meant to quickly overrun the outnumbered defensive positions. Kyiv-based Livy Bereg reports that it hasn’t turned out that way.

photo of a blown-up tank in snow

A blown-off tank turret lies on the ground on the outskirt of Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Ukrinform via ZUMA
Valentin Badrak

KYIV — Vladimir Putin’s plans for a blitkreig, rapid all-out assault, have not gone as planned. Reports from the Ukrainian side show surprising ability of the defensive forces to slow the Russian assault.

In war, you can never say which day is going to be hardest. But it was the second day and second night that proved to the Russian invading forces that the blitzkrieg Vladimir Putin was counting on had not gone as planned.

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By the third day, Saturday, street fights with Russian Armed Forces and their sabotage and reconnaissance units played out in several districts of Kyiv. But the danger of conquest of the capital posed by the enemy was averted, as Ukraine's military forces bravely defended Kyiv.

Russian invaders were shocked by the strong defense, the motivation of the army and the unprecedented unity of the Ukrainian nation.


Russian losses on multiple fronts

The Armed Forces of Ukraine had one task in these first days of combat: to withstand the onslaught of a powerful enemy. While Russian troops far outnumber Ukrainians, the defensive forces operated without hesitation. And after four days of intense fighting, these are reports coming in from the field, according to Ukraine’s military sources:

· Two IL-76s shot down by paratroopers of the Russian Armed Forces are a powerful blow to Russia.

· On the afternoon of February 26, some 20 units of Russian troops were destroyed in the northern Chernihiv region. It caused the loss not only of equipment but also a significant number of personnel.

· On Saturday, the Ukrainian Air Force managed to shoot down a modern Russian Su-30 fighter in the Black Sea .

· TSN reported that in Gostomel, a city just outside Kyiv, the Ukrainian Armed Forces defeated a column of elite Russian special forces. The Ukrainian fighters undertook further clearing of the territory from the enemy, during which a key commander of the Russian Rosguard was killed.

These are isolated episodes, but when such stories come in from all corners of Ukraine, the belief in the power of the army grows significantly and creates confidence among an entire nation.

Counting the enemy losses

Still, by Sunday night, Ukraine reported significant overall losses for Russian forces: 27 planes, 26 helicopters, 150 tanks and 4,500 men: these are the registered losses incurred by Russian Armed Forces, . This is no small feat on the part of the Ukrainians, who, in comparison, have reportedly counted 198 deaths.

The Ukrainian General Staff commented that "the enemy's troops are demoralized, they are running out of fuel and food. The enemy is suffering significant losses."

Of course, we should not exaggerate when it comes to a war like this, particularly when it involves a powerful military machine such as Russia. However, the first signs of problems in the Russian forces are beginning to show. And the introduction of reserves suggests that the Russian army may be beginning to lose motivation and confidence.

Such fierce resistance was not anticipated by Moscow. But problems for the Russians do not stop there. Some logistical issues are already beginning to appear: a shortage of ammunition, fuel and lubricants, and even food.

Photo of ID documents of a Russian officer

Photographs of a captured or killed Russian military officer

Livy Bereg

Help from the EU and Turkey

Aside from the main battle occurring on Ukrainian soil, another blow to Russia came from the EU. Not only have European countries made a unilateral move to ban Russian flights from its airspace, but perhaps the most surprising decision came from Turkey, which banned Russian warships from entering the Black Sea.

This is a significant sign that can be attributed to the growth of consolidation within NATO (despite the fact that the decision was implemented at the behest of the Ukrainian government). But the move shows that even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once a keen friend and partner of Vladimir Putin , is turning his back on the decision made by his Russian counterpart.

Civilians at risk, Putin raises stakes

However, as the Russian occupation army begins spreading out across Ukraine, the danger to civilians is growing: a missile hit a high-rise building in Kyiv and a village was shot down by rocket launchers near Kherson.

Russian Armed Forces are no longer keeping their promise of avoiding civilians but are now prepared to take any action, including attacking civilians. For now, they will continue, by any means necessary, to sow panic as well as destroy communication, optimism and hope.

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the comedian who once made people laugh, picks up the gauntlet and becomes the man leading a resistance against Russia, the Ukrainian people, who have swapped pens and keyboards for guns and missiles, are showing belief in him and their country. But their defiance has angered an already vilified Putin, who, on Sunday evening, ordered his nuclear deterrent forces be put on alert, raising the stakes once again. His grip is tightening. Just how strong this grip is, only time will tell.

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Geopolitics

A Ukrainian In Belgrade: The Straight Line From Milosevic To Putin, And Back Again

As hostilities flare again between Serbia and Kosovo, the writer draws connections between the dissolutions of both the USSR and Yugoslavia, and the leaders who exploit upheaval and feed the worst kind of nationalism.

On the streets of Belgrade, Serbia

Anna Akage

-Analysis-

At high school in Kyiv in the late 1990s, we studied the recent history of Yugoslavia: the details of its disintegration, the civil wars, the NATO bombing of Belgrade. When we compared Yugoslavia and the USSR, it seemed evident to us that if Boris Yeltsin or Mikhail Gorbachev had been anything like Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, bloody wars would have been unavoidable for Ukraine, Belarus, and other republics that instead had seceded from the Soviet Union without a single shot being fired.

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Fast forward to 2020, when I visited Belgrade for the first time, invited for a friend's wedding. Looking around, I was struck by the decrepit state of its roads, the lack of any official marked cabs, by the drudgery, but most of all by the tension and underlying aggression in society. It was reflected in all the posters and inscriptions plastered on nearly every street. Against Albania, against Kosovo, against Muslims, claims for historical justice, Serbian retribution, and so on. A rather beautiful, albeit by Soviet standards, Belgrade seemed like a sleeping scorpion.

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