Curated news, analysis, and commentary about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, tactical situation on the ground, Ukrainian defense, and NATO. Additional topics include refugees, internally displaced personnel, humanitarian efforts, cyber, and information operations.
Photo: Javelin Close Combat Missile System – Medium (CCMS-M) is a man-portable, medium-range tactical missile system that is used to defeat main battle tanks and other armored vehicles. The Javelin system (US Army Acquisition Support Center) consists of a reusable command launch unit (CLU) and a modular missile encased in a disposable lunch tube assembly. Read more about the U.S. military program to arm Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank missiles. (Connecting Vets, Mar 2, 2022). (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army).
The Javelin (Wikipedia), along with thousands of other anti-tank weapons systems provided by NATO allies, has had a devastating effect on the Ukrainian battlefields against Russian tanks and armored vehicles. There will soon be about ten anti-tank missile systems for every one Russian tank in Ukraine (Secretary Blinken interview). Watch a 2-min long video featuring the Javelin (DVIDS, 2017).
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A Long War? Many international observers of the Ukraine War believe the stage is set for a long-term conflict in Ukraine. Putin’s goal of extending the Russian empire by incorporating all or most of Ukraine into Russia’s borders will not be side-tracked with the temporary set back his army has experienced during the ‘Battle for Kyiv’. During testimony before Congress this week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, predicted that the conflict will likely last years.
Ground Campaign. Russia has abandoned its planned capture of the capital of Ukraine. Its forces have retreated or been pushed back by Ukrainian forces from the Kyiv area. They have repositioned to the north across the Belarus border to refit, reorganize, and resupply. These units will likely move in a circular, clockwise direction into Russia, and then into the Donbass region to continue to fight.
Video – Armed Resistance in Ukraine. The concept of national resistance is where individual citizens participate in an organized struggle under state leadership to resist an aggressor attacking that nation. Ukraine has taken that concept and put it into action. Stephen J. Flanagan, a Senior Political Scientist, explains in this 2-minute long video. (Rand Corporation, March 30, 2022.
Kyiv. The region around Kyiv and most of the northern part of Ukraine has seen the departure of Russian units. Left behind is a path of destruction, burned out Russian tanks and APCs, boobytraps and unexploded ordnance, and dead Ukrainian citizens.
Kharkiv. The city was once again shelled during the night hours of Wednesday into Thursday morning (Apr 6-7). The second largest city of Ukraine, Kharkiv, is located in the northeast of the country.
Mariupol. According the the Mariupol City Council, Russia is using its crematoriums to erase evidence of its war crimes. The bodies of residents killed in the conflict are being collected and burned. The fight for the city is still ongoing, with Ukrainian defenders holding out long after most military observers had predicted its capture to the Russians.
Russian-Occupied Kherson. In Kherson the actions of the Russians have been brutal. Numerous protests have occurred in the city of almost 300,000 residents; activities that are usually broken by Russian soldiers firing live rounds, tear gas, and stun grenades. The Russians are hunting down the protesters and detaining them. There are numerous checkpoints, Russian looting of shops, and shortages of food. The Ukrainian army is attempting to mount a counter-offensive that will recapture the port city. “Tear gas, arrogance, and resistance: Life in Russia-occupied Kherson”, The Christian Science Monitor, April 6, 2022.
Situation Maps. War in Ukraine by Scribble Maps. Read an assessment and view a map of the Russian offensive campaign by the Institute for the Study of War. View more Ukraine SITMAPs that provide updates on the disposition of Russian forces.
Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Crisis
Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Crisis. Around 7.1 million people have been displaced internally in Ukraine. More than 4 million have fled the country seeking refuge in Europe. Another 4,000 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Wednesday (Apr 6), many from Mariupol. Ukrainians continue to flow across Ukraine’s western borders into neighboring countries. More than two million are now being hosted by Poland. The New York Times (subscription) reports that at least 2,000 Ukrainians are in Mexico along the United States border awaiting entry; a process that shouldn’t be too difficult as there about 100,000 people a month crossing the southern border.
Europeans have been exceptionally welcoming to the Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion – many opening their homes to the refugees. Resources are appearing on the internet providing housing assistance to Ukrainian refugees. An interactive map by CrisisReady shows the population density changes in Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. The maps can be used as a “signal” about population changes related to the Ukrainian invasion.
UNHCR Operational Data Portal – Ukraine Refugee Situation (Updated daily).
Cyber and Information Operations
IO in Russia. The propaganda battle within Russia is being won by Putin. His popularity ratings in Russia has risen over the past few months. This is the result of a steady flow of disinformation from the Russian state controlled-media and the curb on private media organizations.
Informing Russians and Ending the War. Information operations will play a decisive role in the outcome of the war in Ukraine. Information can help the Russian population to realize the true case of the sanctions and the true cost of the war. But more needs to be done to get that message across to the people of Russia. Tod C. Helmus and Andrew Radin explain in “Keeping Russians Informed About Ukraine Could Help End This War”, The RAND Blog, March 14, 2022.
Shortwave Radio and the Narrative. FM and broadcast television can only travel to just beyond the horizon. However, shortwave can travel vast distances. A shortwave signal cannot be hacked, bombed, and is very difficult to jam. The BBC World Service has begun a daily shortwave broadcast directed to Ukraine but that can also be heard in southeastern Russia. Radio Free Europe played a key role in the Cold War providing truthful broadcasts to the Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Perhaps it is time for RFE to return to its roots and follow BBC’s lead in restarting shortwave services to Ukraine and southeastern Russia. “Why the BBC World Service’s New Ukrainian Shortwave Service Matters”, The RAND Blog, March 25, 2022.
Agricultural Commodity Prices Rise Worldwide. The last 18 months has seen wheat, corn, and vegetable oil prices rise dramatically around the world. The Russia’s invasion of Ukraine comes at a time when global food and energy prices are already elevated. Russia’s attack on Ukraine has disrupted Black Sea agricultural exports of fertilizer, grain, and other agricultural products. The prospects for spring planting and winter crop harvesting in Ukraine remain uncertain. Read an international agricultural trade report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service on how the Ukraine conflict is contributing to high commodity prices and food insecurity published on April 6, 2022.
U.S. Foreign Fighters. The U.S. State Department says that it is not a crime under U.S. law for an individual to go abroad for the purpose of enlisting in a foreign army. However, if recruited or hired in America then it could be a violation and result in the relinquishment of U.S. citizenship. In addition, DoS is advising against Americans to travel to Ukraine, noting that Russia intends to treat captured foreign fighters as ‘mercenaries’. Despite these warnings thousands of American citizens, most with military experience, are looking to go to Ukraine to participate in the fight against the Russian invasion. “Regardless of the Warnings: Some U.S. Veterans Look to Join the Fight in Ukraine: ‘This Is What I Do'”, People Magazine, April 4, 2022.
Security Assistance and Ukraine. Overhauling Ukraine’s procurement institutions has facilitated the recent surge of security assistance to Ukraine. A lot has changed from seven years ago when Russia’s military seized Crimea. U.S. security assistance provided from 2014 to 2020 ($2 billion) has certainly made a difference. “The Ukrainian Military Has Defied Expectations. Here is How U.S. Security Aid Contributed”, The RAND Blog, March 29, 2022.
SOF News welcomes the submission of articles for publication. If it is related to special operations, current conflicts, national security, defense, or the current conflict in Ukraine then we are interested.
Maps and Other Resources
UNCN. The Ukraine NGO Coordination Network is an organization that ties together U.S.-based 501c3 organizations and non-profit humanitarian organizations that are working to evacuate and support those in need affected by the Ukraine crisis. https://uncn.one
Maps of Ukraine
Ukraine Conflict Info. The Ukrainians have launched a new website that will provide information about the war. It is entitled Russia Invaded Ukraine and can be found at https://war.ukraine.ua/.
Ukrainian Think Tanks – Brussels. Consolidated information on how to help Ukraine from abroad and stay up to date on events.
Weapons of the Ukraine War.