Day 384 of the Invasion of Ukraine: The Kremlin declared that its Goals in Ukraine can only be achieved through WarUkraine | March 14, 2023, Tuesday // 11:19| views
Day 384 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- The Kremlin has declared that its goals in Ukraine can only be achieved through war
- The battle for Bakhmut: Russia continues with new attacks in the town of Avdeevka
- ISW: The Kremlin does not expect the war to last more than three years
- There is a proposal in the Russian parliament to raise the minimum age for military service
- Russia announced an extension of the grain corridor by 60 days, Ukraine by 120
- The EU extended sanctions against 1,473 Russians and 205 organizations
- A Serbian minister demanded that the country urgently impose sanctions on Russia
The Kremlin has declared that its goals in Ukraine can only be achieved through war
The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russia's goals in Ukraine can only be achieved through military force, Reuters reported, citing Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday.
"We must achieve our goals. At the moment, this is only possible with military means due to the current position of the regime in Kyiv," Peskov said.
Russia says it is fighting in Ukraine to "liberate" Russian-speakers in eastern Donbas from what it calls a "neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv".
Ukraine and the West see this as a baseless pretext put forward to justify an aggressive war and Moscow's attempts to seize parts of Ukrainian land.
Moscow blames Kyiv for the lack of peace talks, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says they can only happen after Russian troops leave Ukrainian territory.
Ukraine's future depends on the outcome of the fighting in the east, including in and around Bakhmut, Zelensky said in an address to Ukrainians on Monday night.
"It is very difficult in the east - very painful. We have to destroy the military power of the enemy. And we will destroy it," he added.
On the frontline, Ukrainian soldiers said on Monday they were repelling attacks near Kremina, north of Bakhmut.
The Battle of Bakhmut
Reuters reporters who were in a forest about 8 kilometers from the front reported continuous explosions and cannon fire in the distance. They say they saw a soldier brought in from the front with a wounded leg and that his leg was stabilized with a splint before he was taken to a medical center.
"Two or three weeks ago, the fighting was at its peak, but it has calmed down a bit," said Mihailo Anest, a 35-year-old medic, adding that the fighting was mostly fought with artillery and mortar fire.
The trench warfare, described by both sides as a meat grinder, took a heavy toll in Bakhmut, with both sides reporting hundreds of enemy soldiers killed, Reuters writes.
Over the past day, Russia has carried out five missile attacks, 35 airstrikes and 76 attacks with heavy rocket salvo systems, including against civilian infrastructure in the Sumy and Donetsk regions, Ukraine's military said early Tuesday.
Ukrainian forces repelled attacks against seven settlements on the Bakhmut front.
Russia believes that the capture of Bakhmut would pave the way for the capture of the entire territory of the Donetsk region, a central military objective for Moscow. For Ukraine, the battle for Bakhmut gives time to prepare a counteroffensive and exhausts the enemy.
Ukraine is suffering losses among reserves it intended to use for a later push against Russian forces, Ukrainian military analyst Oleg Zhdanov said in an interview. "We could lose everything we wanted to use for these counter-offensives."
The battle for Bakhmut: Russia continues with new attacks in the town of Avdeevka
As the battle for Bakhmut rages, Russia has stepped up its attack on Avdeyevka in eastern Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian authorities, the local school was destroyed during a Russian attack on the town yesterday. A woman is reported dead. In Bakhmut - both sides continue to make sacrifices. The Ukrainian president announced that Russia had lost over 1,100 military personnel in a week. Moscow, on the other hand, reports over 200 Ukrainian soldiers killed in 24 hours. There is no independent confirmation of the claims.
ISW: The Kremlin does not expect the war to last more than three years
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ruled out full mobilization. A bill to raise the conscription age has been submitted to the Duma, according to which the maximum age is increased from 27 to 30 years, and the minimum age - from 18 to 21 years. It will increase by one year from 2024 to 2026.
"The immediate increase in the maximum age in the bill is likely intended to widen the conscription age range to meet some of the immediate needs of the Russian military in Ukraine, and then subsequently reduce the overall conscription requirements for Russian society in the coming years," said a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Analysts say the Kremlin may be trying to shield a new generation of Russians from the demographic and social impacts of the war of attrition in Ukraine by spreading those impacts across a cross-generational group of Russians.
The timetable for lowering the conscription age may also indicate that the Kremlin does not expect the war in Ukraine to last more than the next three years.
Putin and his entourage fear the socio-economic consequences. The pressure on the military-political leadership of the country is also growing due to the heavy losses of the Armed Forces of Russian in the battles for the Donbas.
The number of dead Russian soldiers in Ukraine is about 160,540. Over the past 24 hours, another 740 soldiers have been killed, announced the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Three people died and 14 were wounded in the Donetsk region from enemy shelling, announced the chairman of the military administration in the region, Pavel Kirilenko. A total of 1,410 Ukrainians were killed in the area since the start of the war, and 3,183 wounded.
There is a proposal in the Russian parliament to raise the minimum age for military service
A legislative initiative to raise the minimum age for compulsory military service in Russia was submitted to the Russian parliament, the Interfax news agency reported, quoted by DPA and BTA.
The proposal provides for a gradual increase in the minimum age for military conscription from 18 to 21 years by 2026. It also provides for an immediate increase in the maximum age from 27 to 30 years.
The bill was introduced by Andrey Kartapolov, a former general who chairs the defense committee in the State Duma, according to Reuters.
From next year, recruits will be called up at the age of 19, and from 2025 - at the age of 20. If someone wants to voluntarily join the army at the age of 18, he will be able to do so, Interfax reported.
The cap, on the other hand, will be raised directly to 30 years, with no intermediate stages.
In December last year, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu already announced that changes in the age of compulsory military service were being prepared. Observers attributed this to the planned increase in Russian armed forces from the current 1.15 million to 1.5 million soldiers. Independent media have pointed out that with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the new regulations could lead to around 300,000 additional conscripts in the army due to differences in population numbers among different birth years. Officially, Russia does not send conscripts to war, but they perform internal security tasks, DPA said. However, Reuters recalls that in September Moscow annexed four regions in Ukraine, thus de facto turning them into its territory.
Russia announced an extension of the grain corridor by 60 days, Ukraine by 120
The Black Sea grain deal, which facilitates the export of Ukrainian agricultural products, has been extended by 60 days, Russia's TASS news agency reported, as quoted by Reuters on Tuesday.
"Indeed, the deal has been extended - it has been agreed for 60 days," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the media after consultations between Moscow and the UN were held in Geneva on Monday.
Russia "does not object to the next extension of the Black Sea Initiative after the second deadline expires on March 18, but only for 60 days," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said in a statement released by the Russian mission in Geneva after the talks.
Ukraine will stick to the terms of a previously signed agreement on a 120-day extension of the Black Sea grain export initiative, a senior Ukrainian government official said on Tuesday.
"We will strictly abide by the agreement," the official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
Turkey, which is an intermediary between Kyiv and Moscow on the grain corridor, said that talks on the parameters of the continuation of the deal have not yet ended.
The deal, originally brokered by the UN and Turkey last July, was extended once in November for 120 days and will automatically renew on March 18 if neither side objects.
About 24 million tons of Ukrainian produce have been transported so far under the Black Sea Initiative. It envisages a ten-mile corridor through the Black Sea for the movement of ships from three Ukrainian ports - Odesa, Yuzhne and Chornomorsk. The cargoes are inspected at a joint coordination center in Turkey, which is the guarantor of the UN-initiated deal.
"If the deal is extended for 60 days, it will continue to operate after March 18, and after 60 days one of the parties can raise the issue of its termination," reports "Reuters".
The EU extended sanctions against 1,473 Russians and 205 organizations
The European Union extended by six months the individual sanctions against 1,473 individuals and 205 organizations imposed on Russia because of the war in Ukraine.
Travel restrictions, asset freezes and the ban on the provision of funds or other economic resources have been extended until September 15, 2023, the EU Council announced.
Due to Hungary's veto, the intention to extend the sanctions for one year, as originally intended by the Council to reduce the bureaucratic burden, was not implemented.
Among those sanctioned are senior representatives of the Kremlin, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, oligarchs, businessmen close to Vladimir Putin, deputies, governors, senior military personnel who participated in the war, military factories and their management, scientific institutes working for the army, etc.
Since the beginning of the war, the EU has adopted 10 packages of sanctions, providing, in addition to personal restrictions, economic and trade bans, including on dual-use goods, electronics, spare parts, imports of coal, oil and oil products by sea, gold, etc..
In the conclusions of the European Council of 9 February 2023, the EU reaffirmed its strong condemnation of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, which constitutes a gross violation of the UN Charter and has brought enormous suffering and destruction to Ukraine and its people, reports the EU Council.
A Serbian minister demanded that the country urgently impose sanctions on Russia
Economy Minister Rade Basta demanded in a statement Monday that the government of Serbia urgently announce the introduction of sanctions against the Russian Federation due to aggression against Ukraine. His United Serbia party (Јединствена Србија) distanced itself from his statement, reported the national television.
"Our country is already paying a high price for not imposing sanctions on Russia, and the situation is already becoming unstable. As Minister of Economy, I cannot remain silent about what pressure is being put on the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, and we remain silent. That is why on the imposition of sanctions on Russia, I stand by President Vucic in defense of state and national interests and I have absolute confidence in him. I ask the Government of Serbia and all ministers to make a statement on this issue," Minister Basta said.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, immediately reacted on her Telegram channel: "Some strange position: America is putting pressure on Serbia, and the Serbian minister is calling for them to stand up to Russia. Maybe it is better for the Serbian minister to come out strongly against the pressure on his country?"
Minister Basta also explains that Serbia itself has been subjected to sanctions and its people have suffered severe economic consequences, which is why "we did not take this decision because we hoped that the conflicts would end, that reason would prevail and that the two countries most they will finally sit down at the negotiating table".
"Unfortunately, with the passage of time, we are facing a new reality. There is no end to the conflict in sight, and reason seems to have ended. Small countries always suffer in the conflict of the big ones, and due to the global upheavals, Serbia is facing terrible pressure," warns Minister Basta. "Since the beginning of the war, we have condemned Russian aggression against Ukraine, but at the same time we have defended national interests in relations with the Russian Federation. That is why we initially did not join a large number of countries that imposed sanctions on an aggressor country. However, the situation is becoming more and more complicated every day, and Western countries sharply criticize Serbia for not joining the sanctions," he added.
The leadership of Serbia, led by President Vucic, will do everything to preserve peace and stability, Basta is convinced. But it is necessary for the government in Belgrade to adopt a unified position on the direction in which the country will move forward.
"Economy is key for Serbia and that is why, as Minister of Economy, I point out that despite the difficult foreign policy situation, we must maintain economic growth and fight for our citizens to live better. Serbia has its own serious, responsible and independent policy and will continue to protect its citizens," Basta concluded in a statement.
The position of the chairman of the "United Serbia" party, Dragan Markovic, is that with the introduction of sanctions against Russia, the war in Ukraine will not stop, "just as it did not stop with the sanctions imposed by the Western countries." The decision was to stop the war in Ukraine immediately and solve the problems at the negotiating table.
"Russia, unlike the USA, has always respected Serbia and its people," continued Maria Zakharova. "And the question is not only in the historical truth, but in an obvious fact: with the imposition of sanctions against Russia, the pressure of the United States on Serbia will not end, but will only intensify."
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