Maniupol news gets smuggled in a tampon as Russian continues its annexation of territory even as combat continues. Timothy Snyder argues that the only place Putin rules is in a virtual reality because so many rational options have been closed off. An offensive toward Severodonetsk could result in an encirclement as the war may continue for several more months.
“As a result of the Russian government’s actions, some 20 million tonnes of grain sit unused in Ukrainian silos as global food supplies dwindle, prices skyrocket, causing more around the world to experience food insecurity.” - Anthony Blinken
Russia dismissed calls from top United Nations and Western officials to halt a Black Sea blockade that has prevented Ukraine from exporting much of its grain to world markets, causing price hikes and exacerbating food shortages.
Moscow’s ambassador to the U.N., Vasily Nebenzya, told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that rising food prices had been caused by Western sanctions against Russia and other factors, rather than the nearly three-month old war in Ukraine. He didn’t acknowledge calls to negotiate the shipment of grain from Odessa and other Ukrainian ports.
Anthony Blinken called Russia’s claims that sanctions are to blame for the worsening global food crisis false, declaring: “The decision to weaponise food is Moscow’s and Moscow’s alone.”
“Sanctions aren’t blocking Black Sea ports, trapping ships filled with food, and destroying Ukrainian roads and railways; Russia is,” he said. “Sanctions are not emptying Ukrainian grain silos and stealing Ukrainian farm equipment; Russia is.”
Mr Blinken said sanctions imposed by the US and many others aren’t preventing Russia from exporting food and fertilizers because they exempt exports of food, fertiliser and seeds. “And we’re working with countries every day to ensure that they understand that sanctions do not prevent the flow of these items,” he added.
KYIV/SLATYNE, Ukraine, May 20 (Reuters) - Ukraine's industrial Donbas region, the focus of recent Russian offensives, has been destroyed, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said as some of the world's richest countries pledged to bolster Kyiv with billions of dollars.
Since turning away from Ukraine's capital, Russia is using massed artillery and armour to try to capture more territory in the Donbas, comprised of the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, which Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.
"The occupiers are trying to exert even more pressure. It is hell there - and that is not an exaggeration," Zelenskiy said in a late Thursday address.
"(There are) constant strikes on the Odesa region, on the cities of central Ukraine. The Donbas is completely destroyed," he said.
Moscow calls its invasion a "special military operation" to rid Ukraine of fascists, an assertion Kyiv and its Western allies say is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war.
Russia’s moves came as the United States sought to further escalate pressure on the Kremlin. President Biden vowed to help gain speedy approval of applications to join NATO by formerly neutral Finland and Sweden, as he welcomed the leaders of those countries to the White House and as U.S. officials expressed confidence that they could satisfy Turkey’s objections to Finnish and Swedish membership. And the Senate overwhelmingly approved a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine that Mr. Biden was set to sign into law.
Even as the Russian authorities projected control over a Ukrainian region that is culturally close to Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin appeared to be punishing military subordinates for blunders in the three-month-old invasion.
A report by Britain’s defense intelligence agency suggested the Kremlin was conducting a purge of senior commanders deemed responsible for the failures of Russia’s initial strategy to seize much more Ukraine territory, including the capital, Kyiv, and second-largest city, Kharkiv. The report raised the question of whether Mr. Putin retained faith in his chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov.
- Subordinate main effort- Encirclement of Ukrainian troops in the cauldron between Izyum and Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts
- Supporting effort 1—Mariupol;
- Supporting effort 2—Kharkiv City;
- Supporting effort 3—Southern axis.
Russians are not cornered. The Russian army is not cornered. It is an invading force. When defeated, units just retreat across the border to Russia. 2/17
Putin rules in virtual reality, where there is always an escape route. He cannot be cornered in Ukraine, because Ukraine is a real place. 3/17
It is hard for people in other societies to grasp that Putin is a dictator who controls his country's media. He rules by changing the subject. 4/17
Putin changes the subject all the time. The last time Russia invaded Ukraine, its media changed the subject to Syria from one day to the next, and Russians went along. 5/17
When Russia invaded Ukraine this February, the media quickly adjusted from saying that invasion was impossible to saying it was inevitable. Russians went along. 6/17
If defeated in reality, Putin will just declare victory on television, and Russians will believe him, or pretend to. He does not need our help for that. 7/17
It is senseless to create an "off-ramp" in the real world, when all Putin needs is one in a virtual world he completely controls. Talking of "off-ramps" just gives Russian leaders something to laugh about in what are otherwise difficult times. 8/17
To be sure, Putin might err and wait too long to declare victory in the virtual world. In that case he loses power. We cannot save him from such a misjudgment, and it is misguided to try. 9/17
Putin's power over media will be complete until the moment when it ceases. There is no interval where our actions in the real world will make a difference. Either our off-ramps are unnecessary or they are irrelevant. 10/17
It is grotesque to ask the Ukrainians to make decisions about the war for the comfort of Russian television producers, who don't take direction from the real world anyway. 11/17
Misunderstanding Russia through clichés of "cornering" and "off-ramps" will make the war last longer, by distracting from the simple necessity of Russian defeat. 12/17
Ukraine is a very different story. Zelensky, unlike Putin, is democratically elected, feels responsible for his people, and governs in a world where others matter. 13/17
Ukraine has a press that the government does not direct. Zelensky cannot simply change the subject. He has to bring his people along on any major decision. 14/17
Unlike Putin, Zelensky has to make a case to his people to end this war. He therefore does need help, both to win the war and in telling Ukrainians what comes next. 15/17
Unlike Russian soldiers, Ukrainians have nowhere else to go. They cannot just go home. The war is fought in their country. They will return to their homes and rebuild. 16/17
Ending the war means thinking more about the Ukrainian people and their future, and and worrying less about problems that Putin does not in fact have. 17/17
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Supporting Effort #1—Mariupol (Russian objective: Capture Mariupol and reduce the Ukrainian defenders)
Russian and proxy occupation authorities in Mariupol reportedly struggled to establish coherent administrative control of the city on May 19. Advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol Petro Andyrushchenko claimed that authorities in Mariupol who are collaborating with Russian occupiers do not report to the leadership of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and instead are being guided by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).  Andryushchenko additionally stated that the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) will become the only “independent” political organ of Russia due to the way DNR officials are imposing their occupational agendas on Mariupol. Andryushchenko noted that Head of the DNR Denis Pushilin has commanded elements of the police corps currently stationed in Mariupol to move to other areas in Donetsk to respond to riots caused by “an internal struggle of political clans.” While ISW cannot independently confirm Andryushchenko’s claims, they are consistent with the overall lack of coherency in the implementation of occupation agendas by Russian and DNR authorities alike.
Factional infighting between proxy authorities in Mariupol is likely being exacerbated by the ongoing evacuation of Ukrainian defenders from the Azovstal Steel Plant. Pro-Russian Telegram channels complained that Russian forces are removing wounded Russian servicemen from hospitals in the DNR to treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers who were recently evacuated from Azovstal. If confirmed, these reports indicate a continued lack of consistency in the way Russian and proxy authorities are handling the evacuation of Ukrainian forces from Azovstal and the overall capture of Mariupol.
Before the invasion, in 2019 there was an sharp increase in R-330Zh jamming activity in eastern Ukraine, marked by drone losses in the Donbas region.
Previously, numerous EW units such as the Zhitel were sighted around the borders of Ukraine.
System consists of electronics vehicle (6x6 chassis), & trailer for diesel-electric power station & four telescopic active phased array transmitter antennas.
Azimuth search coverage: -90-120°
Elevation search coverage: -15 - +20°
Jam range: 20-30km (terrain/condition dependent)
Deployable: under 40min
Diesel-electric generator: 1600 hours
Road speed: 85km/h
Crew: 3 (front cab)
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