Ukraine Daily Summary - Saturday, February 18

US supports Ukraine striking targets in Crimea -- Explosion reported in Sevastopol, Russian proxies claim drone attack -- In February, Russian troops' casualty rate five times higher than usual -- Iranian drone instructors arrive in Luhansk -- and more

Saturday, February 18

Russia’s war against Ukraine

Residents cover broken windows with wood panels, after a Russian missile slammed into a residential area overnight, several miles west of the Donbas front line on February 17, 2023 in Lyman, Ukraine. (Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images)

Zelensky: ‘There is no alternative to Ukrainian victory.’ President Volodymyr Zelensky compared Russia’s war against his country to the story of David and Goliath and thanked allies for assisting Ukraine in its fight during his speech at the Munich Security Conference. “This is not only about Ukraine. The bottom line is that Goliath must lose, and there is no alternative to this because the Kremlin can destroy security…We can have victory not only over Putin in Russia but (over Putins) in the whole world. Won’t this be proof of the power of the idea of freedom? It definitely will.”

Kuleba: Nobody is pushing Ukraine to negotiate with Putin, it makes no sense. The foreign minister added that Ukraine had successfully shifted its closest allies’ initial focus from preventing Russia’s victory to emphasizing Ukraine’s victory instead. “They started to speak about it and build policy from it,” he said.

Nuland: US supports Ukraine striking targets in Crimea. “Russia has turned Crimea into a massive military installation…those are legitimate targets, Ukraine is hitting them, and we are supporting that,” said U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. “Ukraine is not going to be safe unless Crimea is at a minimum demilitarised,” she added.

Explosion reported in Sevastopol, Russian proxies claim drone attack. A “loud sound, similar to a muffled artillery shot or an explosion,” was heard in Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea early on the morning of Feb. 17, according to Krym Realii media outlet.

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Sumy military administration denies information about 10,000 Russian troops on the region’s border. The Sumy Regional Military Administration said on Feb. 17 that information about 10,000 Russian soldiers allegedly stationed on the border with the region is not true. It was first reported by The Times on Feb. 15.

Media: In February, Russian troops’ casualty rate five times higher than usual. According to an investigation, Russian casualties have been five times higher than usual in the past two weeks. Throughout 2022, Russian troops’ typical proven casualty rate was around 250-300 per week. However, these figures began to double in January 2023 and have risen continually.

General Staff: Iranian drone instructors arrive in Luhansk. A group of Iranian military instructors has arrived in the occupied city of Luhansk to train Russian troops on the use of Shahed drones, Ukraine’s General Staff reported on Feb. 17. Earlier, Iranian instructors were spotted in Russian-occupied territories of Kherson Oblast, Crimea, and Belarus.

Russian sabotage of Kakhovka Reservoir may leave 1 million Ukrainians without drinking water. Russia’s ongoing attempt to drain the Kakhovka Reservoir may leave over a million people in Ukraine without drinking water, the Minister of Environmental Protection Ruslan Strilets said. “Lowering the level below 12 meters will lead to an ecological disaster since we can lose a lot of biodiversity,” he said, adding that also puts the functioning of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant’s safety systems at risk.

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Ukraine war latest: ‘No alternative to Ukrainian victory,’ Zelensky says at Munich Security Conference

“There is no alternative to our unity. Therefore, there is and will be no alternative to getting rid of Russian aggression once and for all, liberating the land and the people,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Feb. 17.

Photo: President’s Office

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The human cost of Russia’s war

CNN: US estimates more than 30,000 Wagner fighters have been wounded or killed in Ukraine. The U.S. estimates the mercenary Wagner Group has suffered more than 30,000 casualties, including roughly 9,000 fighters killed, since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

UK Defense Ministry: Russian losses may have reached 200,000 troops. Since the start of the invasion, Russia’s army and private mercenary groups have likely lost 175-200,000 people in Ukraine, of which up to 60,000 were killed, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on Feb. 17.

International response

Poland won’t send F-16s to Ukraine, not against sending other jets. During the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 17, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland is not open to providing F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. However, he expressed the country’s willingness to collaborate with other NATO member states on providing alternative fighter jets.

IMF, Ukraine meet in Warsaw, reach staff-level agreement. During a meeting in Warsaw, a mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Ukrainian officials reached a staff-level agreement on Feb. 17 on Ukraine’s compliance with the Program Monitoring with Board Involvement (PMB).

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Reuters: US to warn companies against evading Russia sanctions. The U.S. will directly warn companies against evading U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia over the war in Ukraine, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on Feb. 17.

In other news

Media: Russian branch of French retailer Auchan supplies aid to Russian troops. An investigation reveals that the Russian branch of French retailer Auchan has been supplying Russian forces with supplies under the guise of humanitarian aid. Under international law, humanitarian aid can only be supplied to civilians. However, the supplies coordinated by Auchan in Russia included men’s socks, cigarettes, lighters, and razors.

Ukraine sentences Russian propagandist Anton Krasovsky in absentia. Ukrainian authorities have sentenced Russian propagandist Anton Krasovsky in absentia for supporting the Russian invasion and calling for the genocide of Ukrainians, reports Ukraine’s Security Service. Krasovsky was sentenced to the maximum punishment of 5 years in prison.

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