Day 729 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Still Believes He Can Take Over The Whole Country

Ukraine | February 22, 2024, Thursday // 13:14|  views

Day 729 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • New battles in Zaporizhzhia region
  • Ukrainian forces announced that they had eliminated Russian troops in the Kherson region
  • Ukraine has released statistics on Russian attacks since February 24, 2022
  • The Kremlin said Biden's words about Putin disgraced the United States
  • The mayor of Kyiv called on Germany to send long-range missiles to Ukraine
  • Kara-Murza urged Russians not to despair after Navalny's death
  • Foreigners and stateless persons already serve in the National Guard of Ukraine
  • Media claim to have identified 45,000 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine
  • Medvedev: Russian troops may have to reach Kiev
  • The Guardian: Putin still believes he can take over Ukraine
  • Russians traveling to the EU will fill in a questionnaire about the war in Ukraine
  • The losses of Ukrainian agriculture doubled to 80 billion dollars


New battles in Zaporizhzhia region

Days before the anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine, fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region is expected to intensify.

British intelligence warns of massive Russian attacks in the Robotyne area.

The village is one of the few settlements that the Ukrainian army managed to retake during the summer counteroffensive.

Reports from there now are that the Russians are using heavy military equipment and infantry.

A few days ago, the Ukrainian president announced that Russian forces were advancing in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelensky admitted that the situation is extremely difficult at several points on the front.

Ukrainian forces announced that they had eliminated Russian troops in the Kherson region

For the second time in a week, the Ukrainian army struck a concentration of Russian servicemen. The video, which is said to be from the moment of the strike in the Kherson region, was published by Ukrainian channels, while the Russian side did not officially announce the incident.

According to the OSINT project DeepState, the attack was carried out at a training ground located near the village of Podo-Kalinovka in the occupied part of the Kherson region. Podo-Kalinovka is located less than 30 km as the crow flies from Krinki, a site of fierce fighting on the left bank of the Dnieper in recent months.

Earlier on Wednesday, information was spread about the shelling of a training ground near Volnovakha with the help of HIMARS. The number of dead Russian servicemen amounts to dozens. The figure quoted was 65 dead, but the governor of the Trans-Baikal region, where most of the military was called to the scene of the defeat, said it was greatly exaggerated.

Ukraine has released statistics on Russian attacks since February 24, 2022

Russia has fired more than 8,000 rockets and 4,630 drones at targets in Ukraine since the start of the war in February 2022, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said on Thursday.

Over the past two years, Ukraine has received advanced air defense systems from its Western allies, including several Patriots, allowing it to shoot down more missiles, Reuters notes.

According to the data of the General Staff, as of February 22, 2024, the total combat losses of the enemy amounted to approximately

7,596 unmanned aerial vehicles at the operational-tactical level 1903 cruise missiles 12,924 pcs. cars and fuel tanks 1566 special equipment 6523 pcs. tanks 12,373 units of combat armored vehicles 9867 units of artillery systems 997 units of multiple launch missile systems 680 pcs. anti-aircraft combat systems 25 units of ships/boats, warships/boats 339 aircraft 325 helicopters 1 submarine and about 407,240 people.

The Kremlin said Biden's words about Putin disgraced the United States

The Kremlin said today that the words of US President Joe Biden about his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are shameful for the US and for those who use such language in an unsuccessful attempt to look like "Hollywood cowboys", reported Reuters.

"The use of such language by the American president against the head of state of another country is unlikely to affect our president," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state television reporter Pavel Zarubin. "However, it degrades the dignity of those who use such vocabulary."

"This is a shame for the country itself, I'm talking about the USA," added Peskov.

In his words, Biden's statement "was probably some kind of attempt to look like a Hollywood cowboy. But, frankly, I don't think that's possible."

"Has Mr. Putin ever said even one insulting word towards you? Such a thing has never happened. Therefore, I believe that the use of such vocabulary demeans the dignity of America itself."

Yesterday, Biden called Putin a "son of a b**ch" at a San Francisco fundraiser for his campaign, inserting the words as he warned that there was always the threat of nuclear conflict, but that the greatest threat to the existence of humanity climate problems remain.

Putin ally Dmitry Medvedev, who was president from 2008 to 2012, said the threat to the world's existence came from "useless old men like Biden." Medvedev said Biden was "senile" and "ready to go to war with Russia."

The war in Ukraine, the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and US claims that Russia intends to deploy nuclear weapons in space have led to the biggest crisis in relations between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War, Reuters notes.

Some Russian and American diplomats have noted that they cannot remember another time when ties between the two largest nuclear powers have been at such a low point, including during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Last week, Biden commented on the news of Navalny's death in a Russian prison, saying it was "as a result of something that Putin and his thugs did." Navalny has accused the Russian president of wanting to kill him, a claim the Kremlin has denied.

According to Russian officials, the West was quick to blame Russia without waiting to see evidence. The Kremlin described the Western reaction to Navalny's death as unacceptable and unjustified.

In a speech in Warsaw in 2022, Biden said Putin "cannot stay in power." The White House then downplayed the remark, and hardliners in Russia took it as evidence that the US wanted to oust the Russian president.

In 2021, Biden said he thought Putin was a murderer. The Russian president later said that his American counterpart called him on the phone to explain why he had used such words.

The mayor of Kyiv called on Germany to send long-range missiles to Ukraine

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said he appreciated Germany's military aid to Ukraine so far, but said it was time for Chancellor Olaf Scholz to send long-range missiles to his country, DPA reported.

In a recent interview with the German news agency, Klitschko said that "one of the most important questions" for Ukraine is whether Germany will deliver the requested Taurus cruise missiles.

"We defend our country. And that's why we need Taurus. We can use them to destroy Russian military logistics," Klitschko explained. The mayor of Kyiv added that he expects a positive decision from the German government in the end.

In May last year, Ukraine asked the authorities in Berlin for Taurus cruise missiles, which are highly accurate and have a range of 500 kilometers. The Ukrainian army wants to use them to strike Russian positions and military depots far behind the front lines.

"Germany has finally woken up and is helping us a lot," Klitschko commented on Scholz's earlier refusals to send other powerful weapons to his country.

However, the German chancellor continues to block the supply of Taurus missiles to Ukraine over fears that the high-capability weapon could be used by Ukrainian forces to strike key Russian targets, escalating tensions between Berlin and Moscow. .

Vitaliy Klitschko called on the rest of Ukraine's allies to continue supporting it.

The former world boxing champion described the impasse in which the US Congress has reached on granting new military aid to Kiev as "a huge threat to democracy".

"We must not lose. Because otherwise the entire democratic world will lose," Klitschko said.

Kara-Murza urged Russians not to despair after Navalny's death

After the death of Alexei Navalny in prison, another Russian opposition leader serving a sentence, Vladimir Kara-Murza, called today on Russians "not to despair" and to continue the fight for democracy, reported AFP.

I still cannot come to terms with what happened, neither rationally nor emotionally. However, if we give in to grief and despair, that will be exactly what they want. We have no right to do it, we owe it to our fallen comrades” Kara-Murza said, speaking at a court hearing via video conference.

A long-time friend of Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Kara-Murza was also close to Boris Nemtsov, another opposition figure killed near the Kremlin in 2015, according to AFP.

Kara-Murza managed to convey a message that was published on Tuesday on social media by his team.

"Vladimir Putin is personally responsible for the death of Alexei Navalny, as Alexei was his personal prisoner," he wrote.

"A vengeful, cowardly, greedy old man maintains his death grip by destroying anything he perceives as a threat to his power," added the Russian opposition figure, referring to the president.

Kara-Murza, who holds Russian and British citizenship, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being charged with treason, spreading "false information" about the Russian military and maintaining ties to an "undesirable organization," AFP noted.

This is the heaviest sentence imposed on an opposition figure in the recent history of the country. According to his supporters, he is also in very poor health, having been poisoned twice in the past.

In his message, Kara-Murza said he learned of Alexei Navalny's death from his cell radio on February 16, the day the prison administration released a brief statement announcing the death of Vladimir Putin's main opponent.

From prison in Siberia, Kara-Murza expressed hope that "Russia will become a normal and free European democratic state". "Alexei said: don't give up. It's impossible to give up," he added.

Foreigners and stateless persons already serve in the National Guard of Ukraine

Foreigners and stateless persons were allowed to serve in the ranks of the National Guard of Ukraine by a decree signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Yuriy Ikhnat, a spokesman for Ukraine's Air Force, said his country was transitioning to F-16 fighters as a matter of urgency. Earlier, CNN wrote that the first group of four Ukrainian pilots will complete a training program for American fighters by the summer.

Oleksandr Ruvin, director of the Kyiv Research Institute of Forensic Science, reports that Russian forces are using North Korean KN-23 ballistic missiles in strikes against Ukraine, which fly faster than Russian ones. Several such cases have already been confirmed, says Ruvin.

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, in his evening address to the nation, announced new military agreements with the country's allies. Without elaborating, he noted that defense aid for the soldiers and specific financial guarantees for the state had been agreed upon.

"In a week, seven Russian Sukhoi combat planes were shot down. One of the key tasks for the soldiers of our country this year will be the defense of the sky and the protection of the forward positions on the front from Russian air attacks and missile fire," said the head of state.

Media claim to have identified 45,000 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine

The Russian news site "Mediazona" and the Russian service of the BBC reported that in a joint study published today they have identified about 45,000 Russian soldiers killed since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

In Russia, as in Ukraine, military losses are classified.

The count, which covers the period from February 24, 2022 to February 20, 2024, is not intended to be exhaustive, but the two media outlets claim to have identified 45,123 Russian soldiers killed by using open access sources such as obituaries, reports from local authorities or obituaries published in the media or on social networks.

The media emphasize that the real number of victims is probably much higher. According to the BBC's Russian service, it could be twice that.

According to the same source, "two-thirds of the dead had no connection with the army before the invasion." Therefore, they were mobilized soldiers, volunteers, fighters in private military companies or prisoners who joined combat units in exchange for amnesty.

The latest official data on Russian military deaths is from September 2022, when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu acknowledged the deaths of 5,937 Russian servicemen.

In August of last year, the New York Times, citing American officials, estimated Russian military losses at 120,000 dead, according to AFP. On 29 January, in a written reply to a Member of Parliament, British Defense Secretary James Heappey estimated Russian losses at more than 350,000 killed and wounded.

In 2023, the BBC's Russian newsroom said it had seen an increase in weekly Russian military losses since October last year, when Moscow's forces launched a major offensive to capture Avdiivka, a town captured last week after four months of fighting, AFP noted.

The Guardian: Putin still believes he can take over Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin still believes he can take over Ukraine. Western officials told the Guardian on condition of anonymity. The Russian head of state is believed to be significantly more optimistic than last year, thanks to the failure of the US Congress to support sending $60 billion in military aid to Ukraine and the recent capture of Avdiivka.

"We do not believe that Russia has given up its maximalist goals of subjugating Ukraine," Western officials said.

Russian successes are costly - Moscow is believed to be losing an average of around 900 fighters at the front daily. But this does not stop Putin, who after the occupation of Avdiivka assigned the Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu to "build on" the capture of Avdiivka. Experts estimate that Russia outnumbers Ukraine five to one on the front lines.

However, Putin is believed to have no clear medium-term strategy, officials said.

"We do not believe that Russia has a meaningful plan other than to continue fighting in the expectation that the numbers of Russian manpower and equipment will ultimately prove decisive," the Western sources said.

There are currently no active peace negotiations. The leadership of Ukraine has repeatedly stated that it wants to restore the country's borders from before 2014. Along with the occupation of Crimea, Russia also organized fake referendums, which annexed captured parts of four Ukrainian regions, which it will hardly be inclined to give up .

Putin's hope is likely that if Donald Trump wins the US presidential election in November 2024, the Republican will force Zelensky to sign an unfavorable ceasefire agreement for Ukraine, or at least end US support for the Ukrainians. Then the dictator's goal of conquering the entire Ukrainian land will seem much more realistic.

Medvedev: Russian troops may have to reach Kyiv

Russian state news agency TASS quoted former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as saying on Thursday that Russian troops may need to reach Kyiv to achieve the goals of the so-called special military operation in Ukraine.

Medvedev also said that Russians and Ukrainians are one nation and that the Ukrainian government, which Moscow calls the "Kyiv regime," "must fall."

Russians traveling to the EU will fill in a questionnaire about the war in Ukraine

Officials from the border division of the Federal Security Service (FSB) have introduced a questionnaire about the war in Ukraine for people crossing the EU border. This practice is applied at the points on the border with Estonia "Shumilkino" and "Kunichina Gora", located in the Pskov region.

Citizens are required to provide personal information, including indicating their place of residence in Russia and abroad, passport series and number, military service information and purpose of travel. In addition, they must also provide information about where and for whom they work, contact number and phone ID.

At the end there is a block of questions related to the war. Citizens are asked to list "close relatives" living in Russia and Ukraine; names of acquaintances who are fighting on the side of the Ukrainian armed forces; to report on "the existence of connections among intelligence officers" and their "attitude towards the actions of the EU leadership supporting the nationalist regime" in Kyiv.

The losses of Ukrainian agriculture doubled to 80 billion dollars

Ukraine's agricultural sector has suffered almost $80 billion in direct and indirect losses since the Russian invasion two years ago, analysts at the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) said. In early January 2023, analysts estimated such losses at $38 billion.

Using data from the Ukrainian government and other sources, they indicate that direct losses of the Ukrainian agricultural sector reached $10.3 billion as of December 31, 2023, compared to $7.8 billion a year earlier.


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Tags: Ukraine, Russia, Putin, Zelensky

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