The situation as of 8:00 a.m. on February 20, 2023
- Russian troops continue a large-scale offensive in the eastern direction. The most critical is the situation near Bakhmut, where the gradual advance of Russian troops threatens to cut the communication lines of the Ukrainian garrison.
- Russian troops have adjusted the tactics of missile attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, using missiles in small numbers and mostly at night.
- At the meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (Ramstein-9), the partners confirmed their readiness to transfer more air defense systems, tanks, artillery, and shells, as well as to organize further training for the Ukrainian military.
Russian troops keep advancing on the territory of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions of Ukraine. Their attacks on the northern (Kupiansk, Kreminna) and southern (Vuhledar) frontlines are not successful. The most intense fighting is taking place in the area of Bakhmut, where Russian troops are advancing from the north while attacking the city’s eastern outskirts. There was also a slight advance of Russian troops near Donetsk (in the areas of Marinka and Avdiivka).
Russian troops continue to launch missile attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. During the week, they changed their tactics, preferring smaller-scale but more frequent attacks. On the night of February 16, 32 missiles were fired at Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian air defense shot down 16 of them, but the rest hit energy facilities and oil refineries in several regions of Ukraine (Lviv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, and Dnipropetrovsk regions). On the morning of February 18, Russian troops fired 4 missiles from the Black Sea. 2 missiles were shot down by air defense forces; the rest hit civilian infrastructure in Khmelnytskyi (residential buildings and three educational institutions were damaged). At least 2 people were injured as a result of the attack. In addition, Russian troops began to actively use false targets – balloons – to mislead and identify Ukrainian air defense positions.
Russian troops do not stop shelling the border and frontline territories of Ukraine. Over the past week, civilian casualties amounted to at least: in Donetsk region – 19 people killed and 35 people wounded; in Kherson region – 9 people killed and 25 others wounded; in Kharkiv region – 2 people killed and 8 people wounded. Shelling continues in Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Sumy, Chernihiv and Mykolaiv regions.
The mine threat in the de-occupied territories remains pressing: over the past week, at least 1 person was injured as a result of a mine explosion in Kharkiv region.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION, POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS
The report, which was based on the results of a study by the non-governmental American organization Conflict Observatory, described a wide network of Russian-controlled camps and other institutions in occupied Crimea and the Russian Federation that are used to relocate thousands of Ukrainian children, “politically re-educate” them, and adopt them. Since the full-scale invasion, the confirmed number of Ukrainian children in 43 such institutions has reached at least 6,000. The report notes that the forced transfer of children from one group to another may be considered a violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine issued a statement condemning Russia’s blocking of the rotation of IAEA experts to the temporarily occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and calling on the international community to expand sanctions against the Russian nuclear industry.
President Zelenskyi enacted the National Security and Defense Council’s decision to impose sanctions on 333 individuals associated with the Russian banking sector and the Moscow Stock Exchange.
Foreign aid has provided 68.8% of the sources of financing for the state budget deficit since the beginning of 2023. As of February 15, 2023, the state budget received UAH 171.9 billion from international partners. The largest share is accounted for by macro-financial loan assistance from the EU (€3 billion) and grant assistance from the US ($1 billion). Overall, the IMF estimates that Ukraine needs between $40 billion and $48 billion in external financial assistance in 2023.
Since early February, Ukraine’s power system has been operating without a significant power shortage. This is due to the completion of repairs to previously damaged facilities, a decrease in the number and intensity of Russian shelling, increased production at hydro and solar power plants, and electricity imports from the European Union.
FOREIGN POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT
On February 14, a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group – Ramstein-9 – took place in Brussels. The meeting was attended by representatives of 54 countries, as well as Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. According to General Mark Milley, 11 countries promised tanks for Ukraine, 22 – infantry fighting vehicles, 16 – artillery and ammunition, and 9 more – air defense systems.
Following the meeting, Italy and France announced the transfer of new SAMP/T air defense systems to Ukraine, while France and Australia agreed to provide Ukraine with additional 155-millimeter caliber ammunition. Norway will send 8 German-made Leopard 2 tanks and other equipment to Ukraine for a counteroffensive, while the Netherlands will provide Ukraine with ammunition and spare parts for Leopard 2 and will join the training of Ukrainian tankers. Greece provided Ukraine with another military aid package, which included 20 BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles and other ammunition.
In addition, during a meeting of NATO defense ministers, European countries agreed on an initial package of support under the International Fund for Ukraine (IFU) worth more than $241 million, which will help significantly strengthen Ukraine’s combat capabilities. The Norwegian parliament approved the allocation of 75 billion kroner ($7.4 billion) to Ukraine as part of a five-year military and humanitarian support package.
The annual Munich Security Conference, a high-level forum for discussing threats to global security, was held on February 17–19. The President of Ukraine delivered a video address at the conference, calling on the world to speed up the provision of weapons and military equipment to Ukraine to win the war.
World leaders continue to visit Kyiv personally to demonstrate their support for Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyi held meetings with Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, leader of the Labour Party and the official opposition in the UK Keir Starmer, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Prime Minister of Sweden Ulf Kristersson, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada Mélanie Joly.
The Head of State also had phone conversations with President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Prime Minister of Norway Jonas Gahr Støre and President of the Philippines Bongbong Marcos.
The Slovak Parliament adopted a resolution condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine and defining the current Russian regime as a terrorist one and Russia as a country that supports terrorism.
The information in the newsletter is collected from official sources—reports of state authorities of Ukraine, Ukrainian and international news agencies. The accuracy of the data is carefully checked by the project team and corrected in case of fake news.