Day 731 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Two Years Of Total War

World » UKRAINE | Author: Nikola Danailov |February 24, 2024, Saturday // 11:07
Bulgaria: Day 731 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Two Years Of Total War

Day 731 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • Ukraine today marks two years since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion
  • Four Western leaders in Kyiv for the 2nd anniversary of the start of the war
  • The Ukrainian Armed Forces hit the largest steel plant in Russia with drones
  • Ukraine says it shot down a Russian A-50 aircraft over the Black Sea
  • Russia will pay an increasing price for its actions
  • Europe and the world need Ukraine to win


Ukraine today marks two years since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion

Ukraine today marks two years since the start of a full-scale Russian invasion, and a number of foreign dignitaries and officials are expected to visit the capital Kyiv in a show of solidarity as Ukrainian forces suffer from ammunition and weapons shortages and continued supplies of Western aid is in question, the Associated Press reported.

A gloomy mood hangs over the country as the war against Russia enters its third year and Kyiv's troops face increasing challenges on the front line amid dwindling ammunition supplies and personnel problems, the agency noted. Ukrainian forces pulled out of the strategic town of Avdiivka in the east of the country, handing Moscow one of its biggest victories.

The anniversary comes after President Volodymyr Zelensky fired top military commander Valerii Zaluzhnyi and replaced him with Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi. This was the most significant change in the high command since the start of the full-scale invasion.

Russia still controls roughly a quarter of the country's territory after Ukraine's summer counteroffensive failed to live up to expectations and did not lead to major breakthroughs on the front, AP said. Meanwhile, millions of Ukrainians continue to live in precarious conditions in the crossfire of the fighting, and many more are under Russian occupation. Most of them are still waiting to be released.

Foreign officials are expected to arrive in the capital, Kyiv, to meet with Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials and express their continued support for the country in its fight against Moscow's troops and as it prepares to join the European Union.

Four Western leaders in Kyiv for the 2nd anniversary of the start of the war

Four Western leaders, including the prime ministers of Italy, Canada and Belgium, arrived in Kyiv to show solidarity with Ukraine on the second anniversary of the Russian invasion. Italy's Giorgia Meloni, Canada's Justin Trudeau, Belgium's Alexander De Croo and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen traveled together to the Ukrainian capital tonight by train from neighboring Poland. Meloni is expected to host a video conference later in the day that will include G7 leaders, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invited to join the discussion.

Last night, in his traditional video address, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said that new agreements are being prepared with foreign partners that will increase the capabilities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Yesterday, Denmark followed Britain, Germany and France in concluding a long-term security agreement with Kyiv. The Netherlands is also expected to sign such a document. The Ukrainian president also emphasized the importance of the new package of US military aid for his country worth 60 billion dollars, the adoption of which is delayed in Congress.

Meanwhile, Canada, in coordination with the United States and Great Britain, Australia and the European Union announced that they were imposing sanctions on people and organizations linked to Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. In response, Russia announced that it was expanding the list of people banned from entering the country.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces hit the largest steel plant in Russia with drones

Strong explosions erupted last night in the Russian city of Lipetsk. According to the residents of the city, the explosions can be heard and seen from the area of the Novolipetsk metallurgical plant, the largest steel producer in the country.

Prior to the start of the fireworks, local people heard the sound of drones in the darkness of the night.

According to the residents of Lipetsk, after the drone attack, a heavy fire started on the territory of the metallurgical giant. At least three explosions were heard. According to "Ostorozhno Novosti", one victim is known. Workers from the plant were taken to a shelter, local residents wrote.

The governor of the Lipetsk region, Igor Artamonov, declared in the middle of the night that there were no casualties and that the fire was only in one workshop and was allegedly quickly extinguished.

According to eyewitnesses, the impact from the drone hit the "Agglomeration" workshop. This could make it difficult for the plant to operate for at least a month.

"I can see from the video that the explosion is where the agglomeration and ore preparation workshop is," said a former plant employee.

According to Baza, an open coal warehouse was on fire at the enterprise, and the explosion affected the coke and chemicals workshop, where the refrigeration units are located.

NLMK produces at least 18% of all steel in Russia and is a key part of the NLMK group of Vladimir Lisin, one of the richest men in Russia (about 80% of all production). The plant supplies steel, alloys and rolled products to the Russian defense industry, which produces ballistic and cruise missiles. It is one of the key enterprises of the strategic industry.

Ukraine says it shot down a Russian A-50 aircraft over the Black Sea

The Air Force of Ukraine announced the downing of a Russian A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft over the Black Sea, Radio Freedom reported.

The plane was destroyed as a result of a joint operation of the Air Force and Ukrainian military intelligence. The Ministry of Defense of Russia did not comment on this information. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov succinctly stated that the Kremlin does not have such information.

This is the third loss of a Russian A-50 aircraft so far. The first such aircraft was shot down by Belarusian partisans at Machulishchy Air Base in February 2023, and on January 14 this year, the Ukrainian Air Force shot down an A-50 and an Il-22.

The A-50 radar detection and control aircraft is the Russian equivalent of the Western air defense system and is extremely important to the Russians. It is used to control attacks by Russian strike aircraft and to detect Ukrainian aircraft in the sky.

The cost of one modernized A-50 exceeds 330-350 million dollars, for its service 19 crew members are needed (5 pilots, 11 radio and 3 engineering and technical personnel). Until last year, it was known about the existence of only 6 such aircraft in the Russian Air Force.

According to the latest data from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russia has lost 331 aircraft since the start of the full-scale invasion. Moscow has not reported any losses of equipment.

Russia will pay an increasing price for its actions

Joint statement by Charles Michel - President of the European Council, Ursula von der Leyen - President of the European Commission and Roberta Metsola - President of the European Parliament.

Today we mark a tragic anniversary - that of Russia's full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine in clear violation of international law and the UN Charter. Two years of violence, brutality, terror and destruction. We will never forget the initial shock of the attack - the horror of the events in Borodyanka, Bucha, Mariupol.

Yet, despite the ongoing atrocities and suffering inflicted across the country, Ukraine is standing firm. The heroic Ukrainian people demonstrated faith and determination to defend their homeland and fight for their freedom and our common European values.

The European Union will always support the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. The illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol 10 years ago marked the beginning of Russia's ongoing aggression against Ukraine.

Russia and its leadership bear full responsibility for this war and its consequences on a global scale, as well as for the serious crimes committed. We remain determined to hold them accountable, including for the crime of aggression.

Every day, Ukraine faces the constant brutal and indiscriminate attacks of its aggressor. More than ever, we remain united and true to our promise to support Ukraine for as long as necessary. For the people of Ukraine, peace and security in Europe and the rules-based international order to prevail.

The European Union will continue its strong and unwavering political, military, financial, economic, diplomatic and humanitarian support to help Ukraine defend itself, protect its people, cities and critical infrastructure, restore its territorial integrity, return thousands of deportees children and end the war.

The European Union has decided to open accession negotiations with Ukraine and will help it on its way to membership. The future of Ukraine is in the European Union. It will continue to provide Ukraine with regular and predictable financial support. The €50 billion financial assistance package for the period 2024-2027 will help Ukraine meet its immediate needs, rebuild its economy and society, modernize its institutions and consolidate democracy and the rule of law.

We will continue to meet Ukraine's urgent military and defense needs, including the supply of urgently needed ammunition and missiles. We have taken unprecedented action at EU level to increase the production of the European defense industry and will continue to increase its capacity, which will allow us to strengthen our military support and cooperation with Ukraine, while strengthening our defense readiness and European sovereignty. We are also working on future security engagements that will help Ukraine defend itself, counter destabilization efforts, and deter future acts of aggression.

Russia and its leaders will pay an increasing price for their actions. Together with our partners, we have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia and its belligerents, and we remain ready to increase pressure on it to reduce its ability to wage war. We have also taken the first concrete steps to redirect the windfall proceeds from frozen Russian assets to support Ukraine. We will continue our targeted actions to further isolate Russia on the international stage.

We support the Ukrainian formula for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace based on the principles of the UN Charter and international law, as well as all efforts for a world peace summit with the widest possible international support.

Today, our flags will fly side by side as a symbol of our solidarity, commitment and determination.

Military support and security commitments will be provided or undertaken in full respect of the security and defense policy of particular Member States and taking into account the security and defense interests of all Member States.

Europe and the world need Ukraine to win

"February 24, 2022, when Russia sent hundreds of thousands of troops into Ukraine, marked the beginning of a major geopolitical earthquake. For two years, Europe lived with the grim reality of the continent's largest war of aggression since World War II and with massive, horrific atrocities.

What Russia is doing is a classic example of 19th-century imperial and colonial aggression. Ukraine is going through what many other countries have suffered terribly in the past. For Russia, this war was never about Ukraine's neutrality, NATO expansion, the protection of Russian speakers, or any other fanciful pretexts.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated that Ukraine does not exist as a country and that Ukrainian identity is artificial. War is solely for the destruction of an independent state, the conquest of land, and the restoration of dominion over a people determined to be masters of their own destiny. Russia's imperial ambition is no doubt familiar to many nations around the world that have previously been subject to colonial rule and oppression.

The consequences of Russian aggression against Ukraine are felt far beyond Europe. The war affected food security and energy prices and was accompanied by large-scale disinformation and political destabilization campaigns. These earthquake waves are truly global. Putin is increasingly imposing a world in which he believes that in relations only one should win, including through blackmail. He deployed the Wagner Group to Africa, destabilized other countries through coups, and engaged in economic coercion through the threat of famine - offering grain that he himself had in fact made scarce by systematically burning fields in Ukraine, attacking the infrastructure to store it, and blocking important sea routes for its export.

Therefore, war and its consequences affect every country. If Russia prevails, it will send a very dangerous message that 'power dictates the rules.' Any aggressive power in the world would be tempted to follow in Russia's footsteps. If aggression pays in the end, why shouldn't all those who have territorial claims to their neighbors make one? That is why it is in the interest of many Asian, African and Latin American countries that Ukraine wins the war.

After all, this war is not 'the West against the rest.' Supporting Ukraine is not a 'pro-Western' act. It is about rejecting war and terror. It is about protecting the principle of international relations based on mutual respect and supporting the right of Ukrainians to security and freedom. Ukraine and the European Union share a vision of international relations in the 21st century that is the exact opposite of that of Putin's Russia. Our vision is based on international law, respect and mutual benefit, not coercion, bribery and fear.

No one has a greater interest than ours in a speedy end to this war and the return of peace to our continent. To achieve this, Ukraine has proposed a ten-point peace formula - which the EU fully supports - and it not only envisages an end to hostilities, but also includes proposals to strengthen food security, nuclear safety, environmental protection, energy security, international justice, human rights and respect for the UN Charter.

This formula is the only serious peace proposal on the table, and we call on all parties committed to peace to join us in putting it into action. Ukraine is currently organizing a global peace summit in Switzerland and the EU is actively supporting this process. Leaders from around the world will work to reach an agreement on a common vision for a just peace in Ukraine based on the UN Charter. Russia will then be presented with this consolidated position, representing the global majority, with no choice but to engage in the process in good faith.

As the war enters its third year, our message is one of endurance in the face of aggression and terror. We cannot and will not allow aggression to be rewarded in the 21st century; instead, we will mobilize against it. The only way to achieve a just peace is to redouble support for Ukraine. The EU has done just that in recent months and is set to increase aid even further in 2024.

Our common goal is to ensure that Ukraine can turn the tide of the war in its favor so that a just peace is achieved as soon as possible. The support of the world is crucial to achieving this result. It is in everyone's interest that international law is respected and that cooperation is the highest priority. There must be no return to the dark past of military aggression, imperialism and colonialism - neither in Europe nor in any other region."

Dmytro Kuleba is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is Vice-President of the European Commission for a stronger Europe in the world.


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