Russo-Ukrainian War – 2/25/22

Russian helicopter in Minsk, Belarus (23 February 2022). Note the number RF-91175 and a sign “V”. The photo was made a few hours before the war.

It is now the second day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the battles on and above Ukrainian soil have only become bloodier.

Kyiv, now encircled, is experiencing fighting deep within its western streets. Zelensky himself, speaking with a group of officials, reiterated that he would stay in Kyiv until the end. Citizens are being armed as Russian infantry and light armored vehicles continue pushing into the city.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, re-assuring his people of his intention to stay in Kyiv. Zelensky reportedly refused an offer of evacuation by the U.S., and continued to speak to other leaders throughout the war.

Russia recently has begun utilizing more force to take Kyiv, and in a few hours, heavy tanks and motorized infantry may begin to join those in Kyiv. This will make holding Kyiv far harder for Ukrainian defenders, who have increasingly been forced to retreat and destroy the infrastructure around them.

Ukraine has managed to slow Russia’s rapid advance in the South, with Ukrainian troops beginning to engage Russia’s Crimean forces. From this battleground came Marine Battalion Engineer Vitaly Skakun Volodymyrovych, a Ukrainian soldier laying mines on the Henichesk bridge. Realizing that his sacrifice would buy his troops valuable time to retreat and regroup, he detonated the bridge, slowing the Russian advance.

Russian aerial superiority continues to inflict heavy damage upon otherwise successful Ukrainian defenses, inflicting high casualties on Russian soldiers. Ukrainian soldiers have repelled multiple attacks across Ukraine, and even in retreat, taken out a reported 80 tanks, 516 armored vehicles, 10 aircraft, and 7 helicopters (as of 3 pm Kyiv time). That number has likely only risen as Ukraine continues its deeply entrenched defense.

Russian Strategic Blunders

Russia continues to hide the true nature of its casualties, while war footage from Ukraine shows hundreds of slain Russian and Ukrainian troops.

A team working with World Affairs tuned in to combat channels of the Russian Federation and were able to track the demise of one of two Il-76 heavy transport planes. These planes can carry anywhere from 115-225 people and are more proof of the unspeakable casualties Russia faces as it pressed on to Kyiv.

Combined with yesterday’s failed helicopter operation, it is clear that Russia has overestimated its capacity for aerial deployment. Though a likely escalation in aerial strikes and ground movements will damage Ukraine, further attempts at shock-and-awe tactics will likely be dealt with by an increasingly wary Ukrainian force.

Rest of the World

The world has looked on in dismay and shock, and significant sanctions have been placed against Russia as the Rouble continues losing value. Today, more movement was seen regarding the European posture on SWIFT, as elements of Germany and Italy’s administrations began calling for Russia’s blockage. Additionally, vows of support and solidarity have come from around the world.

A recent NATO meeting confirmed a critical detail; any Russian cyberattacks that spill over into Poland will be grounds for the invocation of Article V, prompting a full-scale NATO response. The NATO Response Force has been activated for the first time in history and is deploying more materiel to Eastern Europe.

In the U.N., a vote by the Security Council to condemn the invasion was predictably vetoed by Russia, but barring the abstaining votes of India, China, and the UAE, unanimously condemned.

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