Ukraine update: Russia orders ‘ill-conceived’ counterattacks

Ukraine update: What happened that night

Russian military command orders troops to launch “ill-conceived” counterattacks

The Russian military command orders its troops to carry out “ill-conceived and unsupported” counterattacks on the southern flank of Bakhmut.” This reports that Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and refers to Russian soldiers and military bloggers. This desperate strategy aims to make up lost ground as quickly as possible.

A battalion of the 1442nd Regiment, a mobilized unit, released a video appeal in which soldiers pointed out the conditions. Accordingly, they left some of their military equipment in the area around Klishchivka (southwest of Bakhmut) after receiving orders to form an attack group and move towards Bakhmut.

Various types of personnel have been transferred to the front, including those with insufficiently functioning artillery shells. These did not explode when fired. The soldiers believe the reason is that the Russian defense industry wants to speed up the production of grenades and is ignoring quality assurance measures. In addition, morale in the unit is low, which is also due to recent reports that Ukrainian forces have destroyed most of an unspecified Russian regiment and almost an entire retreating attack group in the area.

A Russian military blogger also accused the Russian military leadership of giving the troops the order to retake Andriyevka (10 kilometers southwest of Bakhmut) and the surrounding area without creating the conditions for such a counterattack. The military leadership was planning “weak” counterattacks and had failed to provide the Russian attack units with accurate information. According to the blogger, there is a lack of artillery support while “hysterical” counterattacks are depleting Russian resources and reserves.

US government remains tight-lipped about delivery of ATACMS missile

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj stops by his most important ally in Washington after the UN general debate in New York. He wants to meet in the US capital on Thursday afternoon (local time) with President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and members of Congress to promote further support in the fight against the Russian invaders. Zelenskyj is likely to arrive with some specific requests for military equipment.

Among other things, it concerns the Ukrainian demand for ATACMS missiles. This is a cruise missile variant with a range of up to 300 kilometers. The missiles are fired from the ground against targets on the ground. In an interview with the US television channel CNN on the sidelines of the UN general debate in New York, Zelensky renewed his desire for the weapon system. He emphasized that his country was not planning to use it to attack Moscow or other targets on Russian soil.

The US government believes delivery of such cruise missiles is possible, but according to information from the White House it has not yet made a decision on this. National Security Council Communications Director John Kirby Kirby said Wednesday: “The ATACMS is not off the table.” Discussions about the weapon system were ongoing, “but no decision has been made yet.”

Ukraine is requesting a similar weapon system from Germany, namely Taurus cruise missiles. They are suitable for destroying bunkers and protected command posts up to 500 kilometers away. However, due to the relatively long range of the weapon systems, there is concern that targets in Russia could also be attacked – and the conflict could result in a world war.

Poland’s head of government sparks speculation about weapons for Ukraine

In the conflict over the Polish import ban on Ukrainian grain, Poland’s head of government caused speculation with a statement about arms deliveries to Kiev. In an interview on the television channel Polsat News on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki responded to the moderator’s question as to whether Poland would continue to support Ukraine with arms deliveries and humanitarian aid despite the grain dispute: “We are no longer supplying arms to Ukraine, but rather equip ourselves with the most modern weapons.”

Morawiecki continued that Poland has enormously expanded its orders for military equipment. “If you don’t want to defend yourself, you have to have something to defend yourself with – we adhere to this rule.” The armed forces should be modernized so that Poland will have one of the strongest land armies in Europe, said Morawiecki.

While his first statement about armaments appeared to be clearly formulated, the context of the interview suggested that Morawiecki probably did not mean a complete stop to Polish arms deliveries to Kiev – rather, he seemed to emphasize that Poland was not only supplying arms to the neighboring country, but at the same time I am also upgrading my own army. However, several Polish news portals, including the English-language service of the state news agency PAP, interpreted Morawiecki’s statement to mean that Poland would stop supplying weapons to Ukraine in light of the grain conflict. The Polish government initially left a request from the German Press Agency for clarification unanswered.

At another point in the interview, Morawiecki emphasized that the government in Warsaw would in no way endanger Ukraine’s security. “Our hub in Rzeszow will continue to play the same role as before and in the future in agreement with the Americans and NATO,” he assured. A large part of Western military aid for Ukraine in its defense against the aggressor Russia goes through the city of Rzeszow in southeastern Poland.

Scholz promises Zelenskyj further support

At a meeting in New York, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) once again promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj continued support in the defensive fight against Russia. Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said after the 30-minute conversation that Zelensky had thanked him for the military aid, especially for the artillery and air defense. It is not clear from the statement whether the conversation was also about the long-range Taurus cruise missile desired by Ukraine.

According to Hebestreit, Scholz also promised Zelenskyj help for the Ukrainian population in the coming winter. The two scheduled the next reconstruction conference for Ukraine for June 11, 2024. Together they called for the resumption of the grain agreement with Russia in order to improve the global food situation.

In the evening (local time) Scholz and Zelenskyj were to be awarded the Global Citizen Award for their contributions to international cooperation. It is awarded by the Atlantic Council, a non-governmental organization promoting transatlantic relations. Scholz then wanted to fly back to Berlin.

Civil servants in Ukraine have to disclose assets again

As a means of combating corruption in Ukraine, politicians and high-ranking civil servants must now again digitally disclose their assets. The Ukrainian parliament, the Supreme Rada in Kiev, decided this with a large majority on Wednesday. Under pressure from civil society, the MPs corrected their own decision from last week.

The so-called e-declarations were suspended as a security measure when the Russian war of aggression began in 2022. The Rada now wanted to reintroduce it, but provided for a transition period of one year. President Volodymyr Zelensky vetoed this and demanded immediate disclosure. A petition on this matter also collected tens of thousands of signatures.

Jean Harris

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