Ukraine Daily Summary - Sunday, February 19

Russian forces are shelling civilian areas under their control -- U.S. believes China may be providing Russia nonlethal military aid and is considering lethal assistance -- Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine -- US government speaks to Elon Musk about Starlink use in Ukraine -- and more

Sunday, February 19

Russia’s war against Ukraine

A religious building destroyed by Russia’s war in Irpin, Ukraine on Feb. 18, 2023. Irpin was one of the cities hardest hit by the Russian attack during the first weeks of the war. Almost a year later and despite the efforts of the administrations, many areas of the city continue to be devastated. (Adri Salido/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

General Staff: Russia fires 16 missiles at Ukraine on Feb. 18. Russia fired 16 missiles at Ukraine on Feb. 18, according to Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces. The report adds that Russian forces are shelling civilian areas under their control, including residential buildings, hospitals, and schools, in order to discredit the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Air Force: Ukraine downs 2 of 4 Russian cruise missiles launched on Feb. 18. Russia launched Kalibre cruise missiles from the Black Sea, the military said. The attacks injured two in Khmelnytsky after a Russian missile struck a residential area in the western city.

Ukraine’s intelligence: Russia has no means to invade from Belarus in next 2-3 weeks. Russia lacks the strength and means to invade Ukraine from Belarus in the next 2-3 weeks, according to the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. Despite the prospect of an attack from the Belarusian border being unlikely, Ukrainian troops remain on alert.

UK Defense Ministry: It’s harder for Kremlin to insulate Russians from war in Ukraine. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the Kremlin to insulate the Russian population from the war in Ukraine, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on Feb. 18.

SBU detains informant in Donetsk Oblast. Ukraine’s Security Service has detained a woman accused of aiding in targeting schools and energy infrastructure in Donetsk Oblast with Russian missile strikes, the agency reported on Feb. 18. The suspect is also accused of passing along information on the location of Ukrainian troops around Dobropillya, located southwest of Kramatorsk in Donetsk Oblast.

RFE/RL: Russian propaganda channel inadvertently reveals location of Russian base. RFE/RL found the original source of the photo and geolocated it at an abandoned mine in the town of Yuvileyne, located near Luhansk. It was originally taken by a 55 year-old Omsk resident who most likely volunteered to fight in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

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NBC: U.S. believes China may be providing Russia nonlethal military aid and is considering lethal assistance. Without disclosing details, four U.S. officials familiar with the matter told NBC News the non-lethal aid might include gear for Russia’s renewed offensive, such as uniforms or body armor.

Reuters: Blinken warns China’s Wang Yi against providing aid to Russia in Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was very concerned China is considering providing lethal support to Russia, warning top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi that doing so “would have serious consequences in our relationship,” Reuters reported.

WSJ: Chinese DJI drones continue to flow into Russia for its war in Ukraine. Small commercial drones continue to flow from China into Russia, where they are weaponized and sent to the front lines to attack Ukrainian troops, the Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 18.

Sean Penn’s film about war in Ukraine premieres at Berlinale. Sean Penn and Aaron Kaufman’s “Superpower”, a documentary film about the war in Ukraine, premiered at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival on Feb. 18. The organizers of this year’s festival expressed their continued solidary with the people of Ukraine, as well as protestors in Iran, in January 2023.

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The human cost of Russia’s war

Russian shelling of Kharkiv Oblast kills 1, injures 2. The shelling of Kharkiv Oblast by Russian forces on Feb. 18 caused injuries to two civilians, one death, and property damage, according to Governor Oleh Syniehubov.

Authorities: Russia’s attacks killed 6 civilians in 9 regions on Feb. 17. At least six civilians were killed, and ten were injured, according to the regional authorities.

General Staff: Russia has lost 142,270 troops in Ukraine since Feb. 24. According to the report, Russia has also lost 3,303 tanks, 6,533 armored fighting vehicles, 5,196 vehicles and fuel tanks, 2,326 artillery systems, 469 multiple launch rocket systems, 243 air defense systems, 298 airplanes, 287 helicopters, 2,016 drones, and 18 boats.

International response

US Vice President Harris: Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine. United States Vice President Kamala Harris said on Feb. 18 at the Munich Security Conference that the U.S. had determined Russia committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

Von der Leyen calls for doubling down on military support for Ukraine. “We have to double down, and we have to continue the really massive support that is necessary that these imperialistic plans of Putin will completely fail,” von der Leyen told the Munich Security Conference, as quoted by AFP.

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Reuters: US sanctions authority examining Austrian bank’s ties to Russia. Raiffeisen, the second-largest bank lender in Austria, is highly involved in Russia’s financial system and is among just two foreign banks considered “systemically important” by the Russian central bank, emphasizing its significance to Russia’s economy amid extensive Western sanctions.

Netherlands to expel some Russian diplomats, accusing Moscow of spying. “Russia keeps trying to secretly get intelligence agents into the Netherlands under cover of diplomacy. We cannot and shall not allow that,” Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a statement published on Feb. 18.

Reuters: US government speaks to Elon Musk about Starlink use in Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Feb. 18 in an interview with NBC News that the U.S. government had conversations with Elon Musk about the use of his company SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

In other news

Servant of the People lawmaker under investigation for alleged unlawful enrichment. The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office opened a criminal investigation into the alleged unlawful enrichment of Pavlo Halimon, a lawmker with the ruling Servant of the People party, according to Oleksandr Novikov, the head of the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption.

Sandu: Prospect of NATO membership currently infeasible for Moldova. There is currently no possibility for Moldova to join NATO due to the long-term influence of Russian propaganda on public discourse, Moldovan President Maia Sandu said at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 18. “When we see what Russia is doing, it becomes clear that neutrality does not protect us. However, there is currently no public support for changing this,” she said.

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