Ukraine Situation Report: Biden States Putin “Cannot Remain In Power,” White House Walks It Back
Russia is now trying to reframe the goals of its invasion of Ukraine as losses mount and geopolitical isolation sets in.
There was a full-court press within the last 48 hours by the Kremlin to reframe its botched invasion of Ukraine after over 30 days of fighting. In a major military briefing, the Russian Ministry of Defense claims they aren't interested in taking over and occupying major Ukrainian cities because their aim is about stabilizing the newly-recognized (by Russia) 'republics' of Donetsk and Lugansk in Ukraine's far east and to control the wider Donbas region, overall. All the other operations were to degrade Ukraine's armed forces.
Russia claims this strategy is largely based on trying to limit the loss of innocent civilians, which is pure fantasy. They also stated that air supremacy over Ukraine was achieved in the first two days of fighting. Maybe most surprising was the casualty counts they offered up. The Russian MoD says that they have lost 1,351 troops with another 3,825 being wounded. This is far below any other independent estimate, with most being roughly 10 times that number.
None of this makes sense on any level based on their previous operations and it looks very much like a major pivot is underway to avert further disaster on pretty much every single level caused by this "limited military operation." Of course, these are just words and we have seen similar announced major changes in combat phases come and go in Syria before with little actual impact on operations.
Meanwhile, President Biden made a big splash in Poland during his trip there and to other locales in Europe, but his seemingly off-the-cuff remark at the end of his speech in Warsaw that seemed to indicate the U.S. was seeking regime change in Russia certainly raised a lot of eyebrows. Check it out below:
The White House has since walked back that statement:
Many are concerned that this remark played right into Putin's hands, especially in regards to the 'existential threat' he claims NATO poses to Russia and that it will only force escalation. Others have applauded it as a move that puts even more pressure on Moscow.
Readers can first get fully up to speed first on what has been happening in Russia's war on Ukraine so far with The War Zone's preceding rolling coverage here.
With those highlights behind us, let's get to what else is going on:
After disappearing for weeks, with many questioning his standing with Putin, Defense Minister and long-time Putin-buddy Sergei Shoigu appeared in a curiously timed video release of what looks like a very dour meeting. Supposedly he had heart issues that kept him from being in the limelight starting just days after the Russian invasion began. The jury is still out as to if he is still in Putin's inner circle or if this was just a propaganda 'proof of life' stunt. Even the authenticity of the video is being questioned:
There have been more standoff missile strikes in Ukraine's far west in recent hours, including some in Lviv, which sits very close to the Polish border. The strikes in Lviv targeted a fuel depot:
Here is the latest intel assessment and control map from the UK MoD:
The situation to the west, and to a lesser extent, the east of Kyiv, in which Ukrainian troops are taking the fight to Russian forces there, appears to be prompted by opportunity and necessity. Ukrainian forces are clearly taking advantage of any weaknesses in Russia's formations and patrols in these areas and picking their fights carefully. At the same time, it is absolutely key that western routes into Kyiv do not fall to Russian forces. The equation would drastically change when it comes to holding on to Kyiv over the long term if western supply vectors become far more limited. Keeping those corridors open is essential not just for arms and materiel to supply troops in the area, but also for basic supplies needed to keep the city from falling to a siege.
Russia's briding efforts continue in eastern Ukraine:
Mariupol is still a horrific combat zone with no real end in sight:
We now have some pretty clear video from inside the drama center that was struck by Russian forces even though every possible measure was take to make it clear civilians were sheltering inside:
The amount of videos and images of captured Russian hardware is just stacking up so fast now, as are images of dead and captured Russian troops. But the losses of higher-end equipment seem to be accelerating, at least in terms of the info we are seeing coming out of the country. As we have stated many times before, the foreign materiel exploitation (FME) intel haul from this conflict is going to be absolutely unprecedented in recent decades:
Meanwhile, Russia is trying to get in on this front of the infowar, as well, although the implications of captured Ukrainian equipment is far less severe than vice-a-versa:
There are major concerns now over mass food shortages in places like the Middle East due to the war in Ukraine. One good sign is that Ukrainian farmers seem to be moving ahead with planting wherever they can, some in a very defiant manner:
We will continue to update this post until stated otherwise.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com