Ukraine Daily Summary - Thursday, February 16

Russia launched 32 missiles in Feb. 16 strike on Ukraine -- Wagner Group losing up to 80% of some assault units near Bakhmut -- Piecemeal tank delivery schedule can limit their effectiveness in Ukraine -- Western officials say new Russian offensive more aspirational than realistic -- Switzerland refuses to confiscate frozen Russian assets -- and more

Thursday, February 16

Russia’s war against Ukraine

A view of damage after shelling and artillery attacks as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, in Kherson Oblast, Ukraine on February 15, 2023. Kherson Oblast is under constant attacks by the Russian forces, including multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) attacks. (Photo by Gian Marco Benedetto/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Air Force: Russia launched 32 missiles in Feb. 16 strike on Ukraine. Ukrainian military downed 16 missiles in the early hours of Feb. 16 amid Russia’s 15th mass missile strike on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Ukraine’s Air Force reported that a total of 32 missiles had been launched against Ukraine.

Governor: Russian forces strike critical infrastructure in Lviv Oblast. Russian forces struck critical infrastructure in Lviv Oblast in the early hours of Feb. 16, regional Governor Maksym Kozytskyi reported on Telegram. There are no casualties, according to the governor.

Zelensky about Bakhmut: ‘It’s hard, but we are holding on.’ President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Feb. 15 that the most difficult combat situations are now near Bakhmut and Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast, but Ukrainian soldiers are holding on and inflicting maximum losses on Russian forces. He named the city of Bakhmut “a living fortress,” which is allowing Ukraine to prepare its troops for the liberation of Russian-occupied territories.

General Staff: 20 trucks full of wounded Russian soldiers reported arriving at hospital in Starobilsk. The surgical department of the hospital in the Russian-occupied town of Starobilsk in Luhansk Oblast is closed off to the public as it houses dozens if not hundreds of wounded Russian soldiers, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported on Feb. 15.

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CNN: Western officials say new Russian offensive ‘more aspirational than realistic.’ The U.S., U.K., and Ukraine do not believe that Russia has amassed the resources to make meaningful gains in its new offensive in eastern Ukraine, officials from the countries told CNN.

Defense Ministry: Wagner Group losing up to 80% of some assault units near Bakhmut. “Evacuation of the dead and wounded is limited or not carried out at all,” Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on Telegram.

ISW: Putin is unlikely to announce major new Russian mobilization initiatives in his Federal Assembly address on Feb. 21. Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to announce measures for further escalation of the war in Ukraine, major new Russian mobilization initiatives, or any other significant policy in his planned address to the Russian Federal Assembly on Feb. 21, a U.S. think tank has said.

Kyiv authorities: Russian spy balloons downed over capital. Ukraine’s air defense has detected about six Russian spy balloons over Kyiv and shot down “most of them,” Kyiv City Military Administration reported on Feb. 15. Russia’s aim may have been identifying and exhausting Ukrainian air defense forces, according to the report.

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Does Ukraine’s security council hold too much power?

Ukraine’s Security Council has regularly made headlines since Oleksiy Danilov took over as secretary of the previously neglected agency in late 2019.

Photo: Danilo Pavlov

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Piecemeal tank delivery schedule can limit their effectiveness in Ukraine

It took a year of pleading to get the Western allies to promise to send modern main battle tanks, which Ukraine sorely lacks.

Photo: Wojtek Radwanski / AFP via Getty Images

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Ukraine war latest: NATO to step up support for Ukraine ahead of counteroffensive

NATO members made new commitments to step up the support of Ukraine with heavy equipment and military training at the meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Feb. 15.

Photo: Omar Havana/Getty Images

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The human cost of Russia’s war

1 killed, 2 injured in Russian missile attack on Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Serhiy Lysak reported that a 79-year-old woman was killed amid a Russian missile strike on the city of Pavlohrad, located 75 kilometers east of the regional capital Dnipro.

New York Times: Analysis reveals US medic killed by guided missile in Bakhmut. A video taken of the attack that killed 33-year-old U.S. volunteer aid worker Pete Reed shows he was unarmed and killed by a guided missile almost certainly fired by Russian forces, the New York Times reported.

3 confirmed killed in Russian rocket attack on Pokrovsk. Eleven other people were injured in the attack, with one in a critical condition, Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram.

International response

German defense minister says Ukraine to receive fewer Leopard tanks than promised. Western allies will not be able to supply Ukraine with two full battalions of Leopard 2 tanks as they previously promised, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Feb. 15, according to Bloomberg.

Netherlands to provide Ukraine with ammunition for Leopard 2 tanks. The Netherlands will supply Ukraine with ammunition and spare parts for Leopard 2 main battle tanks, as well as participate in the training of Ukrainian tank crews, the Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren told De Telegraaf.

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Stoltenberg: NATO countries to increase support for Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Feb. 15 that the alliance members had pledged new commitments to support Ukraine with heavy equipment and military training at the meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers.

Sweden considers Ukraine’s request for fighter jets. Sweden received a request from Ukraine to transfer Gripen fighter aircraft, and it is being considered, Swedish Defense Minister Paul Johnson said on Feb. 15. But these aircraft are very important for Sweden’s defense, he said.

Switzerland refuses to confiscate frozen Russian assets. The Swiss government said confiscating Russian assets was against the country’s constitution and could “violate Switzerland’s international obligations,” the European Pravda media outlet reported on Feb. 15.

In other news

US concerned about reports of Russian plot to overthrow power in Moldova. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the U.S. is worried about reports of a Russian plot to overthrow power in Moldova.

European Parliament: Ex-President Saakashvili’s death in custody would be blow to Georgia’s democracy. Georgia’s continued failure to improve Saakashvili’s situation in prison is putting its reputation and EU aspirations at risk, the European Parliament said in a resolution passed on Feb. 15.

Investigation: Top official’s brother gets massive discount on real estate, pays with unknown funds. Ihor Smirnov, the brother of the deputy head of the President’s Office Andriy Smirnov, allegedly bought properties at a price significantly lower than the market with funds over his living standards, an investigation by Ukrainska Pravda revealed.

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Toma Istomina, Alexander Query, Francis Farrell, Dinara Khalilova, Lili Bivings, Olena Goncharova and Brad LaFoy.

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