Day 398 of the Invasion of Ukraine: First British Challenger Tanks have arrived in Ukraine

World » UKRAINE | March 28, 2023, Tuesday // 11:06
Bulgaria: Day 398 of the Invasion of Ukraine: First British Challenger Tanks have arrived in Ukraine

Day 398 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • The Russians - less than a kilometer from the center of Bakhmut
  • Belarus said it decided to accept Russian nuclear weapons after pressure from NATO
  • Vuhledar-2: The Russians are embarrassing themselves near Avdiivka
  • Zelensky: The Russians are holding the Zaporizhzhia NPP hostage. Worse has never happened in world energy
  • "No one expected such powerful support": The first British Challenger tanks have arrived in Ukraine
  • Poland expands production of ammunition for Ukraine
  • Russia has warned Armenia not to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court
  • A UN expert suggested that Russian soldiers participate in the Olympic Games
  • Politico: Putin bluffs with Belarus nukes to distract from combat failures
  • Boycott of the UN Security Council against the presidency of Russia
  • Russia's brains are running away from Putin


The Russians are less than a kilometer from the center of Bakhmut

This was announced by the American Institute for the Study of War. Experts indicate that the head of the private military company "Wagner" Yevgeny Prigozhin visited the building of a local school, which is located less than a kilometer southeast of the Bakhmut Municipal Council.

The Russians also advanced from the northwestern part of the city, through the industrial zone and along "Zelenaya" and "Aleksandra Kolpakova" streets - a few kilometers from the center of Bakhmut. During the assault, the mercenaries from "Wagner" were assisted by regular units of the Russian army.

The Institute for the Study of War suggests that some of the most combat-ready units of the group may be transferred in the direction of Avdiivka.

"The Russian military leadership in recent weeks may have decided to send certain Wagner units to the Avdiivka region to support the depleted and low-quality units of the DPR that are trying to capture this settlement. If such Wagner fighters really are fighting near Avdiivka, this may explain the Russian Federation's limited tactical successes in the area over the past week," the ISW report said.

Russian drones attacked Kyiv

Late on Monday, March 27, Russia again attacked Ukraine and its capital Kyiv with drones and combat aircraft, Ukrainian media reported.

They reported two guided aerial bombs and 15 Iranian Shahed-136 and Shahed-131 drones, of which Ukrainian air defenses shot down 14.

One fell into a private enterprise in the city of Dnipro and caused a large fire.

Russia tests supersonic anti-ship missiles in the Sea of Japan

The Russian Navy fired supersonic anti-ship missiles at a training target in the Sea of Japan, the Russian Defense Ministry said today, as quoted by Reuters.

"Ships of the Pacific Fleet fired Mosquito cruise missiles at a training target in the waters of the Sea of Japan," the Russian ministry said in a statement on Telegram. "The target, located at a distance of about 100 kilometers, was successfully hit with a direct hit with two Mosquito cruise missiles," the statement added.

The P-270 Mosquito missile is a medium-range supersonic cruise missile that can destroy a ship at a distance of up to 120 km.

Russia announced the launch of the anti-ship missiles a week after Russian strategic bombers flew over the Sea of Japan for more than 7 hours. Moscow said it was a matter of "scheduled flights", recalls Reuters.

Belarus said it decided to accept Russian nuclear weapons after pressure from NATO

Belarus said it had decided to accept Russian tactical nuclear weapons after years of pressure from the United States and its allies aimed at changing its political and geopolitical direction, Reuters reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Moscow would deploy tactical nuclear weapons in its staunch ally Belarus in the future.

The Belarusian foreign ministry justified its decision to cooperate with Russia in a statement on Tuesday, saying Minsk was acting to protect itself from the West.

"Over the past two and a half years, the Republic of Belarus has been subjected to unprecedented political, economic and informational pressure from the United States, the United Kingdom and their NATO allies, as well as the member states of the European Union," the statement said.

"In view of these circumstances and the legitimate national security concerns and risks arising from them, Belarus is forced to respond by strengthening its own security and defense capabilities," it added.

Minsk said Russia's nuclear plans would not run afoul of international non-proliferation agreements because Belarus itself would not have arms control.

Vuhledar-2: The Russians are embarrassing themselves near Avdiivka

The Russian occupiers are stepping up their attacks on Avdiivka, trying to encircle the city in Donbas. However, their progress is quite insignificant and comes at the cost of huge losses of armored vehicles.

These are the conclusions shared by British intelligence in their new report on the war in Ukraine.

It says:

"Russia's 10th Tank Regiment likely lost most of its tanks in its attempt to encircle Avdiivka from the south. The regiment is part of the 3rd Army Corps - the first major new formation created by Russia to support the invasion of Ukraine since August 2022 onwards".

According to numerous open source reports, the said unit has serious discipline problems and low morale. Invaders of the 3rd Army Corps were trained in Belarus, however, the formation showed limited combat effectiveness.

"The 10th Panzer Regiment's losses are likely to be mainly due to tactically flawed frontal attacks similar to those seen in other recent failed Russian armored attacks such as those near the town of Vuhledar," summarized British intelligence.

In a March 23 report, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported that the Russians had changed their priorities. They have slowed down their advance in Bakhmut and have focused on deploying maneuvers in other directions, including Avdiivka.

Serhiy Cherevaty, spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), said that the occupiers are acting more cautiously in the area of the town - conducting reconnaissance and conducting massive artillery fire.

The head of the military administration of the town of Avdiivka, Vitaly Barabash, announced a ban on visits to the town from March 27. It also applies to volunteers and journalists.

Zelensky: The Russians are holding the Zaporizhzhia NPP hostage. Worse has never happened in world energy

Holding a nuclear power plant hostage for over a year is surely the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of European or global nuclear power.

This was stated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after his meeting with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - Raphael Grossi. Last week, the IAEA warned that the safety of the Zaporizhzhia NPP was not guaranteed, and Grossi said we were "playing with fire".

Zelensky told Grossi that the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant cannot be guaranteed until Russian troops leave the site, Reuters reported.

In March 2022, Russian troops captured the largest nuclear power plant in Europe - the Zaporizhzhia NPP, already in the first weeks of the war. The Kremlin shows no signs of relinquishing control over it. Russian officials say they want to connect it to the Russian power grid.

"Without the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and personnel from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and adjacent areas, all initiatives to restore nuclear safety and security are doomed to failure," Zelensky told Grossi.

Grossi commented that he and Zelensky had an "exchange of views" regarding the protection of the plant and its personnel. A team of observers from the UN agency has been stationed at the headquarters since September.

The head of the IAEA has repeatedly called for a security zone around the site and is trying to negotiate with both sides, but said in January that reaching an agreement was becoming increasingly difficult.

Zaporizhzhia is one of four regions that Moscow claims it annexed in September after referendums condemned by the international community. Russia considers the site to be its territory, which Ukraine rejects.

"No one expected such powerful support": The first British Challenger tanks have arrived in Ukraine

The first British Challenger tanks have arrived in Ukraine, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced late last night, AFP reported.

Reznikov posted a photo of the tanks on Facebook and announced that British Challengers, American Strykers and Cougars, and German Marders have already been included in the composition of the Ukrainian units. Ukrainian ministry spokeswoman Irina Zolotar confirmed that the tanks" Challenger" are already in Ukraine, without specifying their exact number at this stage.

"One year ago, no one could have imagined that the support of the partners would be so powerful that the whole civilized world would decide to fight back against the bloody aggressor, the terrorist state of the Russian Federation. This year, everything changed. Ukraine changed the world. Resilience of the Ukrainian people and the skills of our army have proven that Ukraine will win. And we are already winning," Reznikov wrote.

Ukrainian soldiers have undergone training in Britain to learn how to handle the 14 tanks supplied by London to Ukraine to counter the Russian invasion, the British Ministry of Defense said earlier yesterday. Their training began shortly after the UK announced in early January that it would deliver the tanks.

London had previously mentioned a March delivery without giving further details on the delivery schedule. Ukrainian soldiers trained in this way, the number of which was not specified, are returning to their country "better equipped, but no less threatened", said British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. "We continue to stand by them and do everything we can to support Ukraine for as long as necessary," he added in his statement.

Poland expands production of ammunition for Ukraine

Poland will increase the production of munitions to support Ukraine's military actions within the framework of a European Union program to supply Kyiv with artillery shells, said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, AA reported.

"The most urgent need of the Ukrainian forces is ammunition. That's why we at the EU Council decided to create this program, which will be financed by the union," Morawiecki said during a visit to a facility in the southeastern Podkarpackie province where ammunition for Ukraine is being produced.

He said that the cabinet will announce a special long-term plan to stimulate the production of ammunition in Poland, which will contribute to meeting both the country's own needs and those of Ukraine.

It is no secret that the current capacity in Europe is insufficient, Morawiecki said.

He emphasized that both private and state enterprises will participate in the plan.

Last week, the EU reached an agreement to send Ukraine one million rounds of ammunition over the next 12 months. EU countries will donate ammunition to Ukraine from their own stockpiles and will also jointly purchase new ammunition for the country.

Russia has warned Armenia not to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court

Russia has warned Armenia that there will be "serious consequences" if Yerevan accepts the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which issued an arrest warrant against President Vladimir Putin, Reuters reported yesterday, citing RIA Novosti.

The ICC issued the order this month, accusing Putin of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine, a war crime (and one of the elements of genocide). The Kremlin condemned the decision, calling it political and saying it had no force.

Armenia is a traditional ally of Russia, but their ties have been strained since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Yerevan is moving closer to acceding to the Rome Statute, which would place the country under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

RIA Novosti quoted a Russian Foreign Ministry source as saying that Moscow considers Armenia's plans to join the ICC "unacceptable". Russia has warned that if the Armenian authorities continue to follow this plan, which must be approved by the Armenian parliament and the Constitutional Court, it will lead to "extremely negative consequences".

A UN expert suggested that Russian soldiers participate in the Olympic Games

A United Nations (UN) expert has sparked outrage by claiming that Russian soldiers who fought in Ukraine should be allowed to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics. Alexandra Xanthaki, reporting to the UN for cultural rights, made this statement at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

She angered Ukrainian athletes by saying that only Russians directly involved in crimes against humanity or war propaganda should be banned from international sports.

"I don't think it makes sense to exclude all Russian soldiers and all Russian military," Xanthaki told athlete representatives from most of the 206 national Olympic committees. "It is discriminatory because there were many other athletes from other countries in active military operations and they were never excluded."

"However, any athlete must be disqualified if found guilty of cruelty, serious human rights violations during wartime, including crimes against humanity and genocide. They can also be disqualified if found guilty of propaganda of war, but on an individual basis."

Xanthaki’s remarks come at a time of great debate over whether Russian athletes should be allowed to compete in Paris. More than 30 countries have spoken out against it, while the IOC believes there cannot be total isolation for Russians.

Ukrainian skeleton competitor Vladyslav Geraskevych, who attended the call, said: "Her comments sounded quite crazy. And it was clear from the questions she received that many other people were shocked that she was advocating a way for Russians to compete despite their illegal war."

Heraskiewicz, who held up a "No War in Ukraine" banner at last year's Winter Olympics before the invasion of his country, said Xanthaki’s knowledge of the sport also appeared limited.

Currently, athletes from Russia and Belarus are withdrawn from international competitions. However, it was recently decided that they could participate in the Asian Games, opening the door for them to qualify for Paris 2024.

Politico: Putin bluffs with Belarus nukes to distract from combat failures

According to three senior officials briefed on the discussions following Moscow's latest threat, US and European officials believe Vladimir Putin has no intention of deploying nuclear weapons in Belarus anytime soon.

Putin announced on Saturday that he plans to ship weapons across the border to be stored in a facility under construction that will be ready in July. If this happens, for the first time since the 1990s, Russia's nuclear weapons will be outside the country's territory. Putin did not give a specific time frame, but Western officials said they had no evidence to suggest he was planning missions in the near future.

"Indications are that the Russian president made the threat to try to intimidate Ukrainians and distract from the Kremlin's losses on the battlefield," the officials said, quoted by Politico.

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had seen no signs — such as satellite images or other information — that Russia was moving forward with an immediate plan to deploy nuclear weapons.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby made similar comments to reporters on Monday. "We haven't seen any movement of tactical nuclear weapons or anything like that since that statement, and we certainly haven't seen any indication that Mr. Putin has made any decision to use weapons of mass destruction, let alone nuclear weapons on the ground of Ukraine," he said.

Assessments and comments from US and European officials appear to play down Putin's statements, although they have previously warned of the Russian president's possible use of nuclear weapons.

Belarus is among Russia's closest allies and supports Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The leaders of the two countries have previously talked about deploying advanced weapons, including nuclear, in Belarus.

A distraction for Bakhmut

The Russian president's latest comments come as the two sides battle for control of the city of Bakhmut. Both have lost significant numbers of soldiers and ammunition in recent weeks.

Putin's threats to send nuclear weapons to Belarus "are intended to distract from Russia's failures on the battlefield," the official said.

An adviser to Ukraine's defense ministry said the country's intelligence services were closely monitoring Moscow's actions, but said Ukrainian troops would continue to focus their efforts on countering Russian forces in the east of the country.

Russia claims that the capture of Bakhmut will pave the way for full control of the rest of the strategic industrial Donbas region bordering Russia, which is one of the main targets of the invasion. Ukraine claims that Bakhmut has limited strategic value, but is still fiercely resisting. Not everyone in Ukraine is convinced that Bakhmut's defense can continue indefinitely.

The battle for Bakhmut began about seven months ago, but in recent weeks Russian advances from three sides have left the defenders with only one exit to the west. A possible Russian defeat in the region would have serious consequences for the morale of both armies, with the battle for control of the city - the longest and deadliest in Europe since the Second World War - taking on a great symbolic importance commensurate with the high number of casualties inflicted and both sides. However, the British Ministry of Defense warned that there is still a threat of encirclement of Ukrainian forces by the Russians. Moreover, in its latest assessment of the course of hostilities, it emphasized that in recent days the Russians had achieved success in other parts of the front, further north and south of Bakhmut.

Putin's constant threats

In the past year, Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons several times. In a speech in September, he said NATO and the West were engaged in "nuclear blackmail".

"To those who dare to make such statements against Russia, I would like to remind that our country also possesses various means of destruction," he said. "And if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff."

Since then, warnings about Russia's possible use of nuclear weapons have subsided, and concerns among Western officials about Moscow's threats have also dissipated. One of the European officials said then that "this is another intimidation tactic by Putin".

Boycott of the UN Security Council against the presidency of Russia

Colombe Cahen-Salvador for Politico:

Can a war criminal head the UN Security Council?

On March 17, 2023, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for the "illegal deportation" of Ukrainian children, a war crime charge. And yet, on April 1, Putin's Russia will take over the presidency of the world's most powerful body.

While this sounds like a cruel April Fool's joke, it's not. And for 30 days - the length of the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council - the world will be collectively shamed for allowing Putin's imperialist Russia to assume that leadership role. Unless we do something to stop it, to show that this cannot be the common practice.

We are taught to view history in a very dual way - some resisted and some cooperated; or some did good and others bad. But the truth is, most of us are passive, either looking the other way or just waiting while having a polite dinner conversation about how disgusting current events are. We've all been guilty of it - but not this time. We certainly can't look away this time.

But while stopping Russia may seem like an impossible task, there is evidence that citizen-led campaigns can influence the work of international organizations. And while UN processes need deep reform, there is a way to uphold democracy in these halls of power.

Atlas, the global civil movement I chair, did just that in 2021, holding a sensational global primary to shake up the opacity of the UN Secretary-General selection process. And thanks to the concerted efforts of thousands of people around the planet, we got the General Assembly to take notice of our candidate for UN Secretary-General.

Likewise now, while scholars are researching and pushing the argument that an "aggressor" can't take the presidency, the world can still block Russia from doing anything within its month in a similar way.

Just think if Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, Saddam Hussein's Iraq or Augusto Pinochet's Chile had taken over the leadership of the Security Council - it would have been incredible. "I would be sick with rage," said my father, who had seen his own father deported to camps during World War II. And when I asked him if he thought such a thing would be possible, he replied, "People would never allow that to happen." Then I told him about Russia

The Security Council is not just a famous body that has the power of a "bully's tribune"; it "has the primary responsibility, under the Charter of the United Nations, for the maintenance of international peace and security". However, the body has long been a victim of stalemate, and its shortcomings have never been more apparent. As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: "Where is the security that the Security Council is supposed to guarantee? There is no security."

So Russia must be prevented from occupying Ukraine and dismantling what is left of the international order - starting with the presidency next month.

And in that vein, Atlas launched the "UN Boycott Against Russia" campaign, urging at least seven of the 15 member nations of the Security Council to boycott the body throughout April, thus blocking Russia from pushing through anything . The permanent members of the body can always veto matters of substance, but this does not apply to procedural matters, which only require an "affirmative vote of nine members" under the temporary rules of procedure and related procedural developments.

Given their previous support for Russia's temporary suspension from the UN Human Rights Council, among the countries most likely to support this effort are the three permanent members, the US, the UK and France. So are the five rotating members - Albania, Ecuador, Japan, Malta and Switzerland. And if seven of these eight countries do not show up for any of the sessions, it would mean that Russia's presidency would be completely meaningless.

This would also create a strong image.

Images can embody the spirit of an era, of challenge. From pictures of Berlin Wall climbers to Saudi Arabia launching its 'girls council' made up of 13 men. Moments sealed in time illustrate the constant struggle between light and dark, freedom and coercion. At this point, we have the power to show that democratic nations have taken a stand, and the photo of the empty Security Council Chamber can be our testimony to history.

However, this would only be a short-term solution.

In November 2023, the People's Republic of China will take over the presidency, meaning that another country recognized by the UN itself as guilty of abuses that could amount to crimes against humanity will lead it. And while this technique can be used as often as needed, more needs to be done.

The UN's lack of democratic procedures, its refusal to engage citizens and its inability to make binding decisions on many pressing issues - including responses to authoritarian leaders committing crimes around the world - must be overcome.

Unbelievable support has been given to the Ukrainians against the backdrop of Russia's constant aggressions and wars so far. And we must ensure that while Russia still has a seat at the table, it will sit there only with its partner in crime, China. We owe it to the people of Ukraine, Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang and all those tormented by authoritarianism.

We cannot stand passively or idly. This time, let's prove my father right.

Russia's brains are running away from Putin

After the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, not only independent journalists and young people fleeing the mobilization, but also scientists began to flee from Russia, reports Radio Freedom.

The "Project" publication names 28 famous scientists and professors from leading universities who left Russia after the outbreak of the war. Among them are world-renowned specialists, winners of numerous awards: the academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), president of the Moscow Mathematical Society Viktor Vasiliev, the corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the astrophysicist Yury Kovalev, the professors of the RAS - the astrophysicist Sergey Popov and the biologist Alexander Markov.

The total number of scientists who left is much higher. The organization Scholars at Risk alone has taken 200 people out of Russia, another 62 scholars were helped to leave by the German Alexander von Humboldt Fund. And there are now more than six thousand people in Telegram chats for scientists who need to be relocated, notes "Project".

"Whole scientific branches have stopped, research is simply not being carried out. We are set back years," Russian Academy of Sciences professor Sergei Popov told the publication.

In February 2022, he signed an open letter against the war and a few months later left Russia.

At the same time, according to the Project, no one persuaded the scientists to stay, on the contrary, the scientific and educational organizations themselves pushed out highly qualified specialists, including with the help of denunciations and espionage.

Thus, the historian Konstantin Pakhalyuk, who does not hide his anti-war position, had to leave the post of deputy director of the scientific department of the Russian Military Historical Society (RVIO). In mid-March, he was summoned to the presidential administration, where he was accused of ties to Israeli intelligence, the publication wrote, citing Pakhalyuk himself.

"Project" identifies the names of 20 leading university professors who opposed the war and were fired.

Out of the institute!

The students of the Yaroslavl Theater Institute, dissatisfied with the obligation to perform at a concert in support of the war, were forced to leave the educational institution, Radio Freedom also reports. It refers to a story of the students themselves to the Telegram channel "Внимание, новини".

According to the publication, the administration of the institute presented the students with a fait accompli: to perform at a concert on the occasion of the anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Four students expressed their displeasure, although they did not refuse to participate in the demonstration.

"Внимание, новини" published an audio recording, which is claimed to be a conversation between the rector of the university, Sergey Kutsenko, and students. To him, Kutsenko says that he also has the right to refuse to work with dissatisfied students. "Well, I don't like you! Well, you're not fit for the profession and that's it!" declared the rector. According to him, the word "loser" will not be checked by anyone, because everyone has their own taste, "and somewhere in another university they will like you, but here I don't like you". Kutsenko repeats several times that he will not receive anything for such a position.

As a result, students transfer to a university in another city. Kutsenko and his wife, who works as a course instructor, said they "don't want to work with traitors."

Novinite is still the only Bulgarian media that publishes a summary of events and highlights related to the conflict, every single day. Our coverage began on day one - 24.02.2022 and will not stop until the war has concluded. Despite the pressure, our independent media will continue to provide its readers with accurate and up-to-date information. Thank you for your support! #stayinformed

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