Day 201 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Shells Critical Infrastructure, Zelensky does not Plan Negotiations with Putin

Ukraine | September 12, 2022, Monday // 10:27|  views

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Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:

Zelensky does not plan negotiations with Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with CNN that he is not planning negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin for now. “The main goal at the moment is to get back all the territories”, added Zelensky against the backdrop of a successful counteroffensive of the Ukrainian army.

Kyiv also accused Russian troops of attacking the Kharkiv thermal power plant.

Russian attacks on energy infrastructure have left large parts of eastern and central Ukraine without power, the country's president announced. According to Volodymyr Zelensky, the "blackout" is complete in Kharkiv and Donetsk regions and partially in Sumy, Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk. According to Russian sources, there are no electricity problems in Donetsk.

Earlier, the work of the Zaporizhzhia NPP was suspended as a precautionary measure due to the ongoing hostilities.

The occupation of the plant by Russian troops is the reason why its security is at risk, French President Emmanuel Macron said in a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in turn blamed Kyiv for regular attacks in the area. According to the Kremlin, Putin called for "non-politicized interaction" on the matter involving the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In his latest video address, the Ukrainian president noted that 200 days have passed since the beginning of the Russian aggression against his country. Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the servicemen:

"Today your actions in the North, South and East are seen and noticed by all. The world is in awe and the enemy is in panic. Ukraine is proud of you, believes in you, prays for you and awaits you. The road to victory is not easy, but we are confident that it is within your power. You will reach our border, in all areas. You will see our frontier furrows and the enemy's backs. You will see the eyes of our men shining and the heels of the occupiers. They will call it goodwill gestures. We'll call it a victory."

Zelensky confirmed that the strategic eastern city of Izyum was captured as part of the counteroffensive, as well as Balakliia and Kupyansk. The military command announced that 3,000 square kilometers had been liberated since the start of the offensive near Kherson and Kharkiv.

According to the Russian side, its security forces have prevented terrorist acts in the Kherson region. It was also reported about powerful explosions in Kherson, and also that in the course of the so-called "special military operation" the Priazov part of the Zaporizhzhia region and the entire Kherson region with the large cities of Kherson, Melitopol and Berdyansk were taken under control. RIA Novosti writes that both regions, in which new administrations have been formed, have expressed a desire to join Russia.

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Kyiv: Russia is shelling critical infrastructure

Several Ukrainian regions reported power outages following shelling from the Russian side. Information about power and water supply problems was confirmed by officials from Kharkiv Oblast, in eastern Ukraine, from which Russian troops withdrew in recent days. Similar messages appeared from Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava, Zaporizhzhia and Odesa regions.

Meanwhile, air raid sirens have been activated across Ukraine. Residents shared on social media that they heard explosions.

On Saturday, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it was withdrawing part of its forces from the Kharkiv region, following the counter-offensive of the Ukrainian army, during which Kyiv claimed to have regained territory of more than three thousand square kilometers.

"Complete power outage in Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, partially in Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Sumy regions. Terrorists from the Russian Federation remain terrorists and attack critical infrastructure. Without military facilities, the goal is to deprive people of light and heat," wrote Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Twitter.

Without electricity and water in a large part of eastern Ukraine, one of the largest thermal power plants was hit

Much of eastern Ukraine is without power after several reports of explosions and damage to critical infrastructure, Reuters and UNIAN reported. An air alert has been activated throughout Ukraine.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, confirmed that TPP-5, one of the largest thermal power plants in the country, was hit.

"Deliberate direct strikes on critical civilian infrastructure, in particular on the largest Kharkiv TPP-5, are an unconditional manifestation of Russian terrorism and its desire to leave civilians without light and heat. Such a cowardly 'response' to the army's own desertion from the battlefield...,” he tweeted.

Power problems were reported in Ukraine's second-largest city - Kharkiv, in Kramatorsk - which is the administrative center of Donetsk Oblast, and throughout Sumy Oblast, as well as in Poltava, Odesa and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.

Water supply has been cut off in several villages in the Kharkiv region.

The regional governor Oleg Sinegubov announced that these infrastructure problems were caused by the Russian troops: "Dear citizens, the territory of the municipality is currently without electricity after the occupiers hit critical infrastructure objects. Please remain calm. We are working to fix the problem." , the announcement said.

"This is a vile and cynical revenge of the Russian aggressor for the successes of our army at the front, in particular in the Kharkiv region," said the mayor of Kharkiv Igor Terekhov.

"The Russians have hit the energy infrastructure. They cannot accept defeats on the battlefield. But we will manage. All services are now working. We will recover.

We will restore everything as quickly as possible", wrote the regional governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region Valentin Reznichenko.

There are problems with electricity in the Sumy region, as Dmitry Zhivitsky - the head of the region, said that the electricity system in the region remains unstable.

A number of trains are expected to be stopped or delayed for hours.

Zelensky commented on today's shelling, saying that the Russians remain terrorists. The president also posted a video of a fire after one of the Russian strikes tonight. "Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst are not so terrible and deadly to us as your 'friendship and brotherhood'. But history will put everything in its place. And we will have gas, light, water and food... and that WITHOUT you!” he wrote.

As of 10:40 p.m., the power supply in the Sumy region has been fully restored, Dmitry Zhivitsky reported in Telegram. The head of the Poltava regional military administration, Dmitry Lunin, said that electricity and water supply have been restored in all areas of the region.

Macron and Putin talked about the Zaporizhzhia NPP, the Russian president warns of "catastrophic consequences"

The presidents of France and Russia, Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin, had a telephone conversation regarding the situation around the Zaporizhzhia NPP.

An official statement from the Elysee Palace said Macron condemned the continuation of the war in Ukraine and called for it to end as soon as possible, for negotiations to begin and for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity to be restored.

Macron also insisted on the need to guarantee the safety of the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia. He recalled that the Russian occupation is the cause of the risks that today threaten the integrity of the Zaporizhzhia NPP. According to a statement from the Elysee Palace, the French president requested that Russian forces withdraw their weapons from there and follow the recommendations of the IAEA to ensure the safety of the site.

Emmanuel Macron has asked Putin to ensure that the agreement reached by Russia with Ukraine and Turkey, under the supervision of the United Nations, is implemented in such a way that the exported grain goes to those most in need.

The official statement from the presidency also said that Macron will remain in contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency and will speak again with his Russian counterpart in the coming days in order to reach an agreement, guaranteeing the safety of Zaporizhzhia NPP.

However, the Kremlin presents a different version of the phone conversation between the two.

According to Putin's press service, the two heads of state had a "detailed and frank conversation about the situation in Ukraine with an emphasis on ensuring the security of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant", and that "the regular Ukrainian attacks against the Zaporizhzhia NPP have catastrophic consequences and it is necessary to influence Kyiv".

"The Russian side drew attention to the regular Ukrainian attacks against the NPP facilities, including the storage of radioactive waste. Putin informed about the measures taken by the Russian specialists to ensure the physical protection of the plant and stressed the need to influence the authorities in Kyiv to immediately stop the shelling," the Kremlin statement said.

According to the announcement, "mutual readiness for a non-politicized interaction of the situation around the NPP with the participation of the IAEA" was expressed.

The Kremlin also points out that Putin emphasized to Macron that “Ukrainian security forces, using weapons supplied by Western countries, continue targeted mass shelling of the civilian infrastructure of cities in the Donbass, resulting in civilian casualties.”

Putin and Macron have agreed to continue the dialogue, they added, emphasizing that the telephone conversation took place at the initiative of the French side.

The last time the two presidents spoke was on August 19.

Discontent is growing in Putin's inner circles

The Russian president has recently had to deal with unusually growing criticism about the competence of his commanders in Ukraine.

Ukraine's rout of the Russian army in the northeastern region of Kharkiv presents President Vladimir Putin with political and military headaches. The Kremlin's efforts to create a glamorous propaganda narrative for its successful war in Ukraine are hanging in the balance as popular pro-Kremlin bloggers, think tanks and even politicians start asking uncomfortable questions about the frontline defeat.

For now, their anger is directed solely at Russia's high military command, but Putin still needs to tread carefully in the face of this unusual upsurge of discontent. If he does not act on complaints against his frontline commanders, political pressure on his autocratic regime could intensify.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the wayward and authoritarian leader of Russia's Chechen Republic, accused Moscow's military command of "mistakes" in Kharkiv Oblast, where Russian troops were hastily withdrawn from the strategically important cities of Izyum and Kupyansk, a major railway junction near the border with Russia.

"If there are no changes in the strategy for conducting the special military operation today or tomorrow, I will have to go to the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, to the leadership of the country to explain the real situation on the ground," Kadyrov said in a recorded voice message published on his Telegram channel.

Kadyrov's soldiers have a terrible reputation, accused by Ukrainians of war crimes in the town of Bucha early in the war and of making fake TikTok videos to promote their fictional exploits, but the Chechen leader is an authority because he is personally loyal to Putin and has proven its readiness to involve new forces in the war. He is the most senior figure to openly attack the country's political elite, but he is far from alone.

Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-linked political analyst and former lawmaker from the ruling United Russia presidential party, verbally slapped the Moscow top during anniversary celebrations in Moscow on Saturday. As Putin somewhat surreally unveiled a new giant Ferris wheel before the nightly fireworks display, just as news of the Ukrainian victories spread rapidly, Markov declared: "The celebrations now look like a political mistake. The equivalent of a feast during a plague. It is clear that they [the authorities in Moscow] did not want to cancel them, so as not to cause panic," said the politician, who in previous years vigorously supported the separatist movement in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. "But the president's participation in the celebrations speaks even more to the confusion of the authorities".

He also said fireworks in Moscow "on the tragic day of a heavy military defeat for Russia" should have been canceled despite the possible damage to Putin's reputation in the eyes of his electorate. "Government should not celebrate when people are grieving".

Sergei Mironov, leader of the pro-Kremlin Just Russia party, cautiously joined criticism of Saturday's celebration.

He called on the Moscow authorities to "postpone" the fireworks "for the victory" over Ukraine. "In this way, respect will be shown to those who on this day, with weapons in hand, risking their lives, protect the whole of Russia, all its inhabitants thousands of kilometers from their homes."

Meanwhile, the ire of many Russian military bloggers was directed at the clumsy information tactics of the Russian Defense Ministry, which refrained from commenting on the situation in the Kharkiv region during the early days of the Ukrainian counter-offensive.

The bloggers also sharply criticized the Russian authorities for their failure to ensure the proper withdrawal from Kharkiv Oblast of those residents who support the Russian occupation and want to leave the region in the direction of Russia before the rapid advance of Ukrainian troops.

Alexei Chadaev, a political analyst loyal to the Kremlin, believes that the Russian army "as a whole, as a structure in its current form - to put it mildly - has a limited suitability for waging a modern war".

"The main shortcomings are not in the ability to raise manpower, in the supply of food or weapons, and not even in governance as such, but in the level of strategic thinking, the quality of understanding the rhythm and logic of modern warfare," he said, commenting on the realignment of Russian forces. He added that the latest defeat of the Russian troops "is increasingly reminiscent of the disaster that the Red Army of the Soviet Union faced in almost the same territory in World War II." It was here that the Germans launched Operation Frederick and dealt a serious blow to the Red an army which was surrounded and suffered heavy losses of about a quarter of a million killed and wounded.

"Either we fight or surrender, there is no third option. So let's decide. But if you ask me, I'm in favor of fighting," Chadaev added.

Stoltenberg: Ukraine is getting back territories with the help of NATO

NATO's support for Kyiv in the Russo-Ukrainian war has made a "huge difference" in allowing Ukraine to advance and regain some territory, the bloc's head Jens Stoltenberg has said.

"The war in Ukraine is entering a critical phase" because Ukrainian forces managed to stop Russia's advance in the Donbas region and regain territories in the south and east of the country, Stoltenberg said in Brussels.

He warned that Ukraine and NATO must "be prepared for a long battle" but called on allies to continue to support Kyiv because "we see that it has a huge impact on the ground".

"If Ukraine stops fighting, it will cease to exist as an independent country, so we must stay the course for Ukraine's sake and for our sake," he said.

As part of a broader response to Russian aggression against Ukraine, NATO leaders in June agreed to the most sweeping overhaul of NATO's collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War.

The reforms include a new deployment model for task forces pre-deployed to protect specific NATO countries, 300,000 troops on high alert and more pre-deployed equipment and weapons stockpiles on the eastern flanks.

ISW: Ukraine turns the tides of war, Kadyrov nervous, Putin is distancing himself from Shoigu

Ukrainian forces inflicted a major operational defeat on Russia, capturing almost all of Kharkiv Oblast in a swift counter-offensive. The Ukrainian success was the result of skillful design and execution of the campaign, which included efforts to maximize the impact of Western weapons systems such as HIMARS, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its latest report on the operational situation in Ukraine.

The conclusions of the analysts of the international think-tank are also supported by the data of the Russian command, which on Monday morning announced the continued occupation of settlements in the Kharkiv region by VSU forces.

According to ISW, the Ukrainian capture of Izyum has ended the prospect that Russia can achieve its stated goals in the Donetsk region. After withdrawing from Kyiv in early April, the declared Russian objectives were to seize the entire territory of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts (regions). The Russian campaign to achieve these goals was an arc attack from Izyum through Sievierodonetsk to the area near the city of Donetsk. This attack aimed to capture Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk, Sloviansk, Bakhmut and Kramatorsk and continue to the western border of Donetsk Oblast. Russian forces managed to capture Sievierodonetsk on 24 June and Lysychansk on 3 July after a long and extremely costly campaign. This was followed by a stalemate without the Russians succeeding in capturing large settlements and territories. However, the Russian position around Izyum still threatened the Ukrainian defenders of Sloviansk and preserved for the Russians the opportunity to return to the attack on the northern sectors of the arc, ISW commented.

The loss of Izyum doomed the original Russian campaign plan for this phase of the war and ensured that a Russian advance towards Bakhmut or around the city of Donetsk could not be decisive (if at all). Even an eventual and unlikely Russian capture of Bakhmut would not help achieve the initial objectives of this phase of the campaign, as it would not be supported by an advance from Izyum to the north. Thus, the ongoing Russian offensive operations against Bakhmut and around the city of Donetsk have lost any real operational significance for Moscow and simply waste some of the extremely limited effective combat power that Russia retains.

On the discussion question about the goals and successes of Ukraine in the Kherson direction, the ISW team claims that there is no reason to say that the counter-offensive announced by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Kherson region is just fiction. Ukrainian forces have attacked and achieved success at several important locations on the west bank of the Dnieper River. They cut the two bridges across the river and continue to keep them severed, as well as hamper Russian efforts to maintain supplies by barges and pontoon ferries. Ukraine has committed significant combat power and concentrated a significant portion of the long-range Western-supplied precision systems it has along this axis, and is unlikely to do so solely to draw Russian forces into the area.

The Ukrainian push in Kherson, combined with the rapid counteroffensive in Kharkiv, presents the Russians with a terrible dilemma in time and space. Russia probably does not have enough reserve forces to complete the formation of a new defensive line along the Oskil River, which it is said to be trying to do, before Ukrainian forces continue to advance through this position as well, if they choose so. Prudence would require Russia to withdraw forces from other sectors of the battlefield to establish defensive lines further east of the Oskil River to ensure that it can hold the Luhansk Oblast border or a line as close to that border as possible.

"Russian troops around Bakhmut and near the city of Donetsk continue offensive operations, as if unaware of the danger to Luhansk, and Russian forces in Kherson still face attack and the threat of further attacks on this axis. Russian President Vladimir Putin risks making the common but deadly mistake of waiting too long to order reinforcements to the Luhansk line, thus compromising Kherson's defenses or ending offensive operations around Bakhmut and the city of Donetsk without timely put troops in position to defend against ongoing Ukrainian attacks in Luhansk. The Ukrainian campaign seems to aim to put Putin in such a dilemma and benefit from almost every decision he makes," the American institute analyzed.

Against the backdrop of euphoric sentiments both in Ukraine and the West, and critical to panicked comments in Russia itself, ISW military analysts are of the view that the current counteroffensive will not end the war. The campaign in northeastern Ukraine would eventually culminate, allowing the Russians to reestablish a solid defensive line and possibly even launch localized counterattacks. Ukraine will need to launch subsequent counteroffensive operations, possibly several, to complete the liberation of Russian-occupied territory. The institute makes the conclusion that has become evident in recent weeks that the war will probably continue in 2023.

Ukraine has turned the tide of this war in its favor. Kyiv will likely increasingly dictate the location and nature of major battles, and Russia will find itself responding increasingly inadequately to mounting Ukrainian physical and psychological pressure in successive military campaigns unless Moscow finds some way to regain the initiative.

Russian officials and military bloggers involved in Russia's war in Ukraine increasingly blame the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) for Russia's failures on the front line. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said that if there were no changes in Russia's "special military operation" today or tomorrow, he would contact the Kremlin to "explain the situation on the ground."

Kadyrov's statement is a thinly veiled criticism of the Russian MoD for its lack of situational awareness (or honesty) and highlights that the MoD is preoccupied with maintaining the facade of a successful and swift Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense does not acknowledge the successful Ukrainian counteroffensive operations around Kharkiv Oblast, instead spreading an apparently false narrative of deliberate Russian repositioning without any meaningful justification.

One military microblogger noted that a civilian such as the head of the private military company Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, should replace Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu because civilians can better deal with "the harmful nature of the military bureaucracy."

Increasing public attacks on Shoigu and the Russian Defense Ministry shield Russian President Vladimir Putin from personal responsibility for setting unattainable goals for the invasion, shifting all blame for Russia's failures to the Defense Ministry and the military high command. Putin may accept and even support these attacks to continue this shift of blame from himself.

The counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast is already damaging the Kremlin's relationship with Russia's defense ministry, further alienating Putin from the military high command. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had postponed all of his meetings with the leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry and representatives of the Russian defense industry in Sochi, an odd decision amid the military operational and defense industry crisis facing Russia, ISW noted.

Zelensky to the Russians: "Read my lips - Without you!"

Last night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky published extremely strong words after another barbarity by the Russian invaders, who carried out another terrorist attack on critical infrastructure in Ukraine, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without electricity and water in the country.

This comes after the heavy losses that the Russians have suffered in recent days and after thousands of Russian soldiers have left their combat positions and rushed headfirst to flee to their homelands.

Here is what Zelensky wrote on this occasion:

"Do you still think we are one people? Do you still think you can scare us, break us, force us to make concessions? Don't you understand what's going on? Don't you understand who we are? What are we fighting for? What is this all about?

Read my lips!

Without gas or without you? Without you!

Without electricity or without you? Without you!

Without water or without you? Without you. Without food or without you? Without you!

Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst are not as terrible and deadly as your friendship and brotherhood. History will put everything in its place. And we will be with gas, light, water and food..... and without you!"

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Christo Grozev: Putin ordered the oligarchs to raise private armies

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian state-owned corporations and oligarchs to set up private military companies to step up armed aggression against Ukraine and begin a "new phase" of the war. This is what one of the most influential investigative journalists, Christo Grozev, claims, UNIAN reported.

According to him, Putin wants to start a "new phase of fighting" in October.

"He says that all the failures are due to corruption and incompetence in the army (the mercenaries were cheated out of their wages‘). But again very optimistically, he says that every state corporation and oligarch has been instructed to create their own private military companies (PMC) for a new phase in October‘”, wrote Grozev on Twitter.

Over the past 5-6 days, the situation at the front in Ukraine has changed sharply. The VSU (Ukrainian Armed Forces) managed to make a powerful breakthrough in the Kharkiv region, where dozens of towns and villages were liberated, and the Russian troops were either defeated or fled. A retreat of Russian units and employees of the occupation administration from Luhansk region, where the Ukrainian army is also advancing, is also noted.

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Tags: Ukraine, Russia, Putin, Zelensky

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