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One month of resistance. The morning of February 24 has started with the sounds of explosions. Ukraine was expected to survive for a maximum of 72 hours after the Russian invasion.On March 24, Ukraine is still resisting. United like never before.
Foreign policy. Big talks on March 24. Three summits are taking place in Brussels today – NATO, European Council and G-7 Summit. On top of the agenda – the situation in Ukraine and providing further support there. President Zelenskyi will deliver a video address at the NATO meeting. The UN Security Council declined to support the Russian-drafted resolution for aid and civilian protection in Ukraine. One of the key reasons being this document did not mention a word about Moscow’s role in the war. Only Russia and China voted for the resolution, while the rest of 13 members abstained. Poland has expelled 45 Russian diplomats. The Polish Internal Security Agency (ABW) reportedly identified 45 individuals who had diplomatic status but at the same time were employed by the Russian Special Forces. Meanwhile, following its expulsion from the Council of Europe on March 16 2022, the Russian Federation will cease to be a High Contracting Party to the European Convention on Human Rights on September 16 2022.
Belarus. Belarus has given 72 hours to 12 Ukrainian diplomats to leave the country, forcing the Consulate General of Ukraine in Brest to close down due to the shortage of staff. Around 4 of the Ukrainian diplomats will remain working in Minsk. Belarus explains the reason for the decision as ‘unfriendly actions’ from the Ukrainian side. While Russia tries to get the Belarusian army officially involved in the war, the Belarus military remains reluctant to join the war. Russian special service officers conduct ‘individual interviews’ with privates to convince them, and those who are unwilling to join are checked for ties to the opposition. Belarusians are offered $1000-1500 a month for participating in ‘special tasks’ along with future military training in Russia. The General Staff of Ukraine underscores that military invasion from the Belarus border remains a high possibility.
War crimes. Defining and processing ‘war crimes’ and ‘war criminals’ requires some time-consuming legal groundwork within the system of bureaucratic red tape. However, some first steps in this direction were made concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Yesterday, the U.S. government formally concluded that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. The statement did not mention Putin directly, but referred to ‘members of Russia’s forces’. The Polish Seim has also approved a resolution on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and human rights violations committed by Russia in Ukraine.
Meanwhile in Russia. Reportedly, some of the key top officials have been missing for some time or quit their positions. President Vladimir Putin’s climate envoy, Anatoliy Chubais, has reportedly quit his position, becoming Russia’s senior-most government official to quit over the war in Ukraine. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has not publicly appeared for around 12 days, even though he is a very public figure. He has been mentioned on news in regard to the signed decrees, as well as award ceremonies, but no photos or videos of him are available. Russian media actively spreads disinformation about the potential chemical and biological weapons production in Ukraine. The reason behind this could be that Russia prepares the ground to justify its own usage of chemical weapons.
Cities under the attack. Russian troops were pushed back several miles to the east of Kyiv, however they kept on digging in, taking more defensive positions to the northwest of the city. According to Oleksii Arestovych, Advisor to the President of Ukraine, around 12 000 Russian militants remain around Kyiv. 70-80% of Irpin is back under Ukrainian control, though the street fighting continues. In Chernihiv, Russian troops fired at the local food companies’ facilities, damaging the ammonia pipeline. The situation remains under control, however, further damages might cause leakages there. Since yesterday evening, Russian troops have been actively firing at the civilian infrastructure. In the Luhansk region, residents of Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Rubizhne, Kreminna, Novodruzhesk, and Voivodivka came under fire. Currently, 35 settlements remain without electricity and 23 houses are damaged or completely destroyed in the region. Rubizhne, Luhansk region remains under regular fire — during the night missiles and phosphorus bombs shelled the city once again. Since the beginning of the war, 1143 buildings have been destroyed in Kharkiv. 998 of them are residential buildings. Kharkiv downtown has been actively shelled with missiles launched from the Black Sea. In occupied Melitopol, the occupiers are building a military base for launching rockets. Due to close proximity to civilian infrastructure, people are used as human shields there.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces destroyed a large Russian landing ship “Orsk” in temporarily occupied Berdyansk.
Crimea. Russia restricts departure from occupied Crimea through the Crimean bridge. It will also restrict the ferry service and flights from the peninsula to Russia. A formal reason for such actions is to fight against Ukrainian saboteurs and prevent possible ‘terrorist attacks’. However, it is likely to prevent civilians from fleeing the peninsula which might spread panic.
Abduction. Russian occupiers kidnapped a 75-year-old man from his home. He turned out to be the father of Svitlana Zalizetska, a journalist, director of the “Holovna Gazeta Melitopolya” (Melitopol Main Newspaper) and the RIA-Melitopol website, who had left Melitopol earlier. The kidnappers demanded the journalist to return to the city and surrender herself to the occupant, only then her father will be released.
Cargo blockade. Transport Ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland have urged the EU to ban Russian and Belarusian cargo transportation by road and sea. The aim is to prevent the existing prohibitions from being easily circumvented, and it is therefore proposed to combine and increase measures for road and sea transport.
Sanctions. Bloomberg reports that the Biden administration and European Union are close to a deal aimed at decreasing Europe’s dependence on Russian energy sources.
Digital security. Anonymous continues its cyber resistance. Yesterday, it announced the hacking of the Central Bank of Russia. More than 35 000 files are going to be released within 48 hours with some secret agreements among those documents.
Media. Oksana Baulina, Russian independent investigative journalist was killed in Kyiv suburbs during the shelling yesterday. Baulina, who previously also worked for the Russian opposition leader Navalny, was killed along with another civilian while filming the shelling by Russian troops. Since the beginning of the war at least five journalists have lost their lives.
Culture. Russian invaders destroyed the building of the Arkhip Kuindzhi Art Museum in Mariupol — the original artworks of Ivan Aivazovsky, Mykola Glushchenko, Tatiana Yablonskaya, Mykhailo Deregus and other masters were kept there.
Solidarity with Ukraine. In his night address, President Zelenskyi called on people across the world to express their support of Ukraine on March 24 and thereafter: “That’s why I ask you to stand against the war! Starting from March 24 – exactly one month after the Russian invasion… From this day and after then. Show your true spirit! Come out from your offices, your homes, your schools and universities. Come in the name of peace. Come with Ukrainian symbols to support Ukraine, to support freedom, to support life.”
- 4554 people were evacuated from the hotspots in Ukraine yesterday.
- 264 civilians have been killed in Kyiv since the beginning of the war.
- 121 children have died and more than 160 children were injured.
- 58 ambulances were fired upon and six medics were killed.
- 1200 missiles were launched at Ukraine by Russian troops in just one month.
- General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the total estimated losses of the Russian military as of 6 a.m., March 24, 2022: personnel – around 15 800, tanks ‒ 530, APV ‒ 1597, artillery systems – 280, MLRS – 82, anti-aircraft warfare systems – 47, fixed-wing aircraft – 108, helicopters – 124, soft-skinned vehicles – 1033, light speed boats – 4, fuel tankers – 72, operational-tactical level UAV – 50, special equipment – 16.
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