Ukraine Daily Summary - Wednesday, February 15

Western intelligence shows Russians amassing aircraft on Ukraine border -- Russia drains Dnipro River reservoir, endangering Ukrainians' water supply -- Russian forces shell Kherson medical facility twice on Feb. 14 -- Pentagon head says allies to help Ukraine launch counter-offensive in spring -- and more

Wednesday, February 15

Russia’s war against Ukraine

Ukrainian serviceman Maksym kisses his wife Anna as he welcomes her with flowers upon her arrival from Kyiv at the train station in Kramatorsk on Valentines Day on Feb. 14, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)

Financial Times: ‘Western intelligence shows Russians amassing aircraft on Ukraine border.’ Western intelligence indicates that Moscow is amassing fixed-wing and rotary aircraft near Russia’s border with Ukraine, two officials privy to the information told Financial Times.

General Milley: Russia lacks capacity for new attack on Kyiv. US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley added that the Russians have already launched their new offensive in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. Russia has consolidated its forces there and the fighting can last for several weeks, he said.

UK Defense Ministry: Russia aims to advance in most directions, but it lacks combat power. Russian troops are being ordered to advance in most sectors of Ukraine’s front line, but they have not amassed “sufficient offensive combat power on any one axis to achieve a decisive effect,” the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on Feb. 14.

Washington Post: White House warns Ukraine it faces turning point in war. U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is convincing Kyiv that the turning point in the war will be reached already this spring, the Washington Post reported, citing U.S. officials. The White House is raising pressure on Ukraine to use this opportunity on the battlefield as it will be hard to continue receiving the same level of assistance from Congress, according to WP sources.

Zelensky thanks new Western arms pledges following Ramstein format meeting. “Together, Ukraine and its partners are doing everything to ensure that the terrorist state loses. And to make it happen faster,” said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Shmyhal: Russia drains Dnipro River reservoir, endangering Ukrainians’ water supply. “After the Russians partially destroyed and deliberately opened the locks of the Kakhovka Reservoir, we are losing thousands of cubic meters of water every day,” Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Feb. 14.

Russian forces shell Kherson medical facility twice on Feb. 14. According to the statement, the roof of one of the buildings was damaged and the windows were shattered by the blast wave and projectile shards. At the time of the attack, 26 patients and 7 medical workers were in the hospital. Nobody was injured.

General Staff: Ukraine repels Russian assaults near over 20 settlements in 3 oblasts. In a regular morning update on Feb. 15, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that the Ukrainian military had repelled Russian attacks near over 20 settlements in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv oblasts.

Zelensky meets with Canadian foreign minister in Kyiv. Zelensky informed Canadian foreign minister Melanie Joly about measures to implement a peace plan and expressed hope for Canada’s support, including holding a global peace summit. They also discussed the reconstruction of liberated regions, demining territories, and prosecuting Russian war criminals.

Cabinet of Ministers appoints new First Deputy Defense Minister. The Cabinet of Ministers dismissed Ivan Rusnak as Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister of Defense and appointed Lieutenant General Oleksandr Pavlyuk as his successor on Feb. 14. Leading up to Pavlyuk’s appointment, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree on Feb. 13 allowing military officials to take on the role.

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Ukraine war latest: Wagner boss says Russia won’t capture Bakhmut soon, West says no planes for now.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Kremlin-controlled Wagner Group, whose mercenaries, along with the Russian regular army, have been attempting to capture Bakhmut, says the battle for the city is far from over.

Photo: Getty Images

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The human cost of Russia’s war

Russian attacks across 8 Ukrainian oblasts kill 3, injure 6 over past 24 hours. Russian attacks were reported in Donetsk, Kherson, Kharkiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Luhansk oblasts in the east, south, and north of Ukraine.

UK Foreign Office: British national killed in Ukraine. The U.K. Foreign Office said on Feb. 14 that a British national has been killed in Ukraine, likely making him the eighth person from the U.K. to have been killed since the start of Russia’s full-scale war.

General Staff: Russia has lost 139,080 troops in Ukraine since Feb. 24. Ukraine’s General Staff reported on Feb. 14 that Russia had also lost 3,286 tanks, 6,500 armored fighting vehicles, 5,155 vehicles and fuel tanks, 2,299 artillery systems, 466 multiple launch rocket systems, 234 air defense systems, 298 airplanes, 286 helicopters, 2,011 drones, and 18 boats.

International response

Pentagon head says allies to help Ukraine launch counter-offensive in spring. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Feb. 14 that the Ukraine Defense Contact Group would “support Ukraine’s fight for freedom over the long haul,” adding that it would help Kyiv “hold and advance during the spring counter-offensive.”

Stoltenberg: Fighter jets for Ukraine ‘not the most urgent issue.’ A decision on providing Ukraine with Western fighter jets is “not the most urgent issue now,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Feb. 14 ahead of a meeting of the alliance’s ministers. “But it is an ongoing discussion,” he added.

Germany says supply of fighter jets to Ukraine not the focus for now. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that the priority is to ensure the safety of the airspace over Ukraine, which requires an operational air defense system with enough ammunition, ARD broadcaster reported on Feb. 14.

US Defense Secretary: No news on fighter jets for Ukraine. According to European Pravda, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters in Brussels on Feb. 14 that he has “nothing to report” regarding the supply of fighter jets to Ukraine.

Norway to send 8 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Norway will donate eight Leopard 2 main battle tanks and up to four support vehicles to Ukraine, the Norwegian Defense Ministry reported on Feb. 14. The “tanks package” will also include ammunition and spare parts, reads the report.

Welt: The Netherlands and Denmark will not supply Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. The governments of the Netherlands and Denmark have announced that neither country will deliver Leopard-2 tanks. However, both the Netherlands and Denmark have committed financial resources to refurbishing 100 Leopard-1 tanks in German warehouses.

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Polish defense minister: Western tanks will arrive in Ukraine by March. Polish defense minister Mariusz Blaszczak added that more countries have declared their participation in the coalition to deliver Western tanks to Ukraine. “We are working to ensure that Finland also provides these tanks” he said.

Spain to train Ukrainian soldiers on Leopard tanks starting this week. 55 Ukrainian soldiers will depart to Spain by the end of the week for training on how to operate Leopard tanks, Spanish defense Minister Margarita Robles said in Brussels on Feb. 14. Spain is part of a coalition which includes Germany, Poland, Norway, and Canada that has promised to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine. The US and the UK have also pledged tanks.

Minister: Germany to restart production of ammunition for Gepard guns. Germany has signed contracts with the Rheinmetall concern to renew the manufacture of ammunition for Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, which it earlier supplied to Ukraine, according to German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, cited by Reuters.

Reuters: US works toward tougher restrictions on banks with ties to Russia. Washington is working to push harsher restrictions on banks with ties to Russia and crack down on those evading current rules, the U.S. State Department’s Sanctions Coordination Office head James O’Brien told Reuters.

EU working group to explore using frozen Russian assets for reconstruction of Ukraine. An EU working group led by the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union will be exploring the possibility of utilizing frozen Russian assets to aid in post-war Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts. “In principle, it is clear-cut: Russia must pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine,” said Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Feb. 14.

In other news

Ukraine appoints new High Anti-Corruption Court head. The High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) announced that Vira Mykhailenko is the court’s new head.

Moldova temporarily closes its airspace due to security reasons. Moldova closed its airspace for more than three hours on Feb. 14 “to ensure the safety and security of civil aviation,” the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reported. The airspace was reopened at 2:47 pm. The incident comes a day after Moldovan President Maia Sandu said Russia was planning a coup d’état in Moldova involving attacks on government buildings.

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