Day 386 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Western Media reports of over 100,000 Dead Ukrainian Servicemen

World » UKRAINE | March 16, 2023, Thursday // 11:55
Bulgaria: Day 386 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Western Media reports of over 100,000 Dead Ukrainian Servicemen

Day 386 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • The war today: Ukraine shot down a Chinese drone over Donbas - with a Kalashnikov
  • Ukraine: Dozens of Russian attacks in the past 24 hours in Donetsk
  • Kremlin: Increased intelligence from Washington led to the drone incident
  • Ukraine: US drones and planes have been monitoring the Black Sea for a long time
  • Prigozhin: The leadership of the Russian army seems to want to kill me
  • Assad agrees to more Russian bases and troops in Syria
  • Slovak minister: If we give our MiG-29s to Ukraine, we get 0 million
  • EU buys military radar for Moldova as Russian missiles fly over the country
  • Politico: US prepares Ukraine for counteroffensive in May
  • The EU is under pressure about the Russian oil price ceiling

The war today: Ukraine shot down a Chinese drone over Donbas - with a Kalashnikov

The Ukrainian military shot down an upgraded Chinese-made Mugin-5 drone in the Donetsk region on the night of March 11, CNN reported.

According to the TV channel, on the night of Friday, March 10, against Saturday, the Ukrainian security service told CNN that its agents, located in the Russian-occupied territory, warned that Russia would launch a drone against the positions of the Ukrainian army. After that, the Service warned the Ukrainian military units located near Sloviansk in the Donetsk region about the same.

Around 2 a.m., servicemen from the 111th Brigade of the Territorial Defense of Ukraine heard the sound of an unmanned aerial vehicle and saw a flash of light in the sky. They opened fire on it with Kalashnikov assault rifles, CNN reported.

Mugin Limited, based in the Chinese city of Xiamen, confirmed to CNN that the drone was its product and expressed "deep regret" for the incident. The company has condemned the use of its products in war. Some tech bloggers call the Mugin-5 "Alibaba drones" after the Chinese business conglomerate. They can be bought for up to ,000 on Chinese websites, including Alibaba and Taobao.

Retired British Army officer and drone expert Chris Lincoln-Jones told CNN that the commercial drone used in the incident was not equipped with a camera, meaning it could not have been used for surveillance. In fact, it's like a "silent bomb," said the Briton. According to him, from a military point of view, the drone is cheap, and its use by Russia once again proves: "The Russian Federation is not a superpower, as the world thought."

Experts also believe that the drone has been upgraded, as evidenced by the bomb trigger made from 3D printed components.

The United States and its allies have repeatedly said in recent weeks that China is considering supplying arms to Russia. According to the American media, it’s about drones and even ammunition and artillery. Beijing denies.

Russian activity in the Black Sea

Ukrainian military registers atypical activity of the Russian military fleet in the Black Sea. This was said on the air of the national telethon broadcast by the Rada channel on March 16, the head of the United Press Center of the Defense Forces "South" Natalia Gumenyuk, quoted by the "Gordon" website.

We are closely monitoring the ship formation in the Black Sea and the actions of the enemy. Atypical activity and number of ship groups have been registered. There are now 20 units in the Black Sea, including four missile carriers, one of which is underwater; a maximum of 28 missiles can be ready to launch” Gumenyuk said.

According to her, many units of the enemy's auxiliary fleet were also spotted.

"They are trying to demonstrate their presence in the Black Sea as much as possible, where they can afford it and as much as the international community can allow them. They are trying to spread out, covering as much as possible the theater of naval operations in the Black Sea and are trying to hide their actions from us," Gumenyuk added.

Ukraine: Dozens of Russian attacks in the past 24 hours in Donetsk

Over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have carried out more than 70 attacks against the regions of Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdeevka and Mariinka, reported the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in its summary of the progress of the war.

The Russian Federation does not give up its intentions regarding the occupation of Ukraine and continues to conduct offensives, regardless of losses, the Ukrainian military also said. During the past 24 hours, three missile strikes were carried out, in particular on the civil infrastructure of the city of Kharkiv. Moscow is stepping up its push in a bid to capture the small town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine and secure its first significant victory in more than half a year.

In his evening video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that another meeting was held in the Ramstein format - the tenth in a row. Ammunition, artillery, tanks, defense of Ukrainian skies were discussed. “This is especially important now, when we feel that Russian aggression is approaching the point where it can break”, Zelensky said, adding:

"There is no terrorist who builds his potential in facing the free world. Russia is no exception. We must constantly increase the pressure. Pressure in our defense, sanctions against Russia, destroying the ways in which the Russian state and its companies circumvent sanctions, political and legal pressure. The more we pressure them, the faster we will move towards restoring our territorial integrity and the international legal order."

Zelensky once again thanked all the countries that provide assistance to his country.

Canada announced yesterday that it will send nearly 8,000 artillery shells and a dozen air defense missiles as part of its next military aid package to Ukraine.

Kremlin: Increased intelligence from Washington led to the drone incident

"Intensified" intelligence gathering by Washington against Russia, as well as "non-observance of Moscow's declared restricted flight zone" led to the drone incident, the Russian defense minister said in a conversation with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin, according to a statement by Ministry of Defense.

The American MQ-9 drone was flying in the international airspace over the Black Sea in accordance with international law. Several times before the collision, Su-27 fighters dumped fuel and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless and unprofessional manner. This incident showed a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.

Since Russia considers the Crimean peninsula as its territory, Moscow is expanding its understanding of its territorial waters, in violation of international law.

US Air Forces in Europe conduct these routine flights throughout Europe over sovereign territory and in international airspace in coordination with applicable host nation and international laws.

Ukraine: US drones and planes have been monitoring the Black Sea for a long time

US drones have been guarding and scouting in the Black Sea since the beginning of the Russian hybrid aggression, before the invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Air Force announced to UNIAN. This happened with the consent of Kyiv, and along the line of demarcation in Donbas and the Black Sea.

"To control the situation, maintain stability and NATO partners in the region, the US uses reconnaissance aircraft in the Black Sea - RC-135 and H10 Poseidon," explained the spokesman of the Ukrainian Air Force, Col. Yuriy Ignat.

These are scout pilots, and yesterday Russian Su-27 fighter jets shot down an American MQ-9 Reaper drone in international waters after dousing the unmanned aircraft with fuel and jamming its propellers, the Pentagon said.

Col. Ignat also specified that the US immediately sent a new drone to maintain surveillance in the region.

The Americans described the behavior of the Russian pilots as "unprofessional" and summoned Putin's ambassador to Washington.

As expected, the Russian Ministry of Defense denies that there was "any contact" with the American drone - according to them, it made a sharp maneuver and fell alone into the sea.

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov declared the drone a "provocation".

"What are they doing thousands of kilometers from the US? The answer is obvious - they collect intelligence, which is then used by the regime in Kyiv to attack our forces and territory," Antonov said.

Warning from Washington

The US warned Russia not to escalate the situation after the US armed forces announced that they were forced to crash their unmanned aerial vehicle in the Black Sea after a Russian fighter jet intercepted it over international waters and damaged its propeller, DPA reported, quoted by BTA.

The US State Department summoned the Russian ambassador Antonov to protest to him about the incident, which took place over waters near Ukraine.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later dismissed Moscow's version and told CNN that the US government intended to release footage of the collision between the drone and the Russian plane.

Kirby added that such "inappropriate, dangerous and unprofessional behavior by Russian airmen" could lead to unwanted incidents "between the two armies that are clearly not operating together in Ukraine, but are certainly operating close to each other in the region."

"And we don't want this war to escalate beyond what it has already done to the Ukrainian people," he warned.

Kirby also said the U.S. has taken measures to prevent other countries from reaching the remains of the drone.

British Defense Minister Ben Wallace called on Moscow to respect international airspace, Reuters reported.

"The key here is that all countries respect international airspace, and we call on Russia to do the same," Wallace told Reuters at the Japan Defense Exhibition (DSEI) in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo.

Russia has 28 Kalibr missiles in the Black Sea

According to a report by the Ukrainian command, there are currently 13 Russian warships in the Black Sea, 4 of which carry a total of 28 Kalibr missiles.

One Russian ship is in the Sea of Azov, and 7 in the Mediterranean, three of which also carry another 20 Caliber.

These missiles are long-range - up to 2,000 km for ground targets, which means that practically at least half of Bulgaria is within their range. And they have all kinds of options - both conventional and nuclear.,

The Russian Federation continues to violate the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) by turning off the automatic identification system of civilian ships in the Sea of Azov, the VSU emphasizes.

Dangerous accident. The question now is who will reach the wreckage first

Russian and NATO aircraft and naval vessels, manned and unmanned, move in close proximity to each other around Ukraine's Black Sea coast on any given day, figuratively speaking a "recipe for crisis" between the superpowers on the brink of war, the British newspaper The Guardian reported today. The stakes are raised by the fact that both countries have thousands of nuclear warheads as a weapon of last resort, and the risks are greatly increased by reckless behavior, the publication commented.

The current incident is more serious than previous close encounters between Russian and American aircraft because it resulted in a collision and a fall into the sea. It cost the US a machine worth about million and set off a race to get to the wreckage in the Black Sea first. If the Russians get there first, it will be an intelligence advantage, allowing their specialists to study the aircraft, the newspaper noted.

According to the Commandant of the US Marine Corps, General David Berger, scenarios like the downing of this drone are some of the biggest concerns for the US military because they can cause unpredictable events. He said this issue is also a concern in the Pacific region. In fact, the last time a US military aircraft was involved in such a collision was off the coast of China in April 2001, when a US IP-3 was shot down by a Chinese fighter-interceptor. The Chinese fighter jet crashed into the sea, and the American spy plane had to make a forced landing on Hainan Island, which caused a diplomatic crisis, according to the Guardian.

The incident with the American drone in the Black Sea will not lead to a direct conflict between Russia and the United States or to a dangerous escalation between them, given the previous experience with such interceptions and the restrained position of the administration of President Joe Biden, the Washington Institute for the Study of War wrote in its summary today.

Prigozhin: The leadership of the Russian army seems to want to kill me

"The leadership of the Russian army seems to want to kill me."

This was hinted at by the head of the private military company (PMC) "Wagner" Yevgeny Prigozhin in one of his frequent interviews in recent weeks.

Although the businessman did not specify names, it is clear that it is about the Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and the head of the Russian army in Ukraine Valery Gerasimov, with whom he has been waging an open verbal war for months.

In his interview, Prigozhin claimed that the successes of "Wagner" caused "envy" and because of this, his mercenaries were subjected to "shell hunger".

"Our actions today cause envy, because new offensives are announced every day and then disappear without a trace. I know why they fail. Because the system of government must be built by hand. And not from distant instructions. That's because we have successes, but in other places the successes are not what they want to be (...) The task is simple: PMC 'Wagner' should not under any circumstances take over Bakhmut. Because in Soledar we have already had enough, the whole country supported PMC 'Wagner' Naturally, 'shell hunger' is the basis so that PMC 'Wagner' does not take over Bakhmut."

But "Putin's chef" is confident that "Wagner" will take over Bakhmut anyway.

"Not because Prigozhin wants it. And not because Prigozhin has any, excuse me - great political ambitions and he must capture Bakhmut in order to promote himself".

According to Prigozhin, "we must prove to the whole world that Russia can".

"What's the difference? Bakhmut, Vuhledar, Avdiivka or the Svatov-Kreminna line. It doesn't matter what it is, let's take something! That's why I think that 'shell hunger' is the first part of the Marleson ballet (in Russian it is used to denote a series of grotesque events) And I'm not just talking about 'shell hunger', it's about cutting off airplane flights, removing military telephones that I can't use to call anyone and no one he can call me. Leave my phone alone!"

Prigozhin even invited the Russian commanders to put on a listening device.

"Listen to what I'm saying, call me sometimes and say, 'Prigozhin, you're a bitch, go away!'

And he wonders if his accidental death is planned in the near future:

"Would the reason be that when my pilot takes off in the air he can't warn the air defense systems not to shoot me down because I'm flying? Why did you cut them off? Kindergarten! Don't be children, war is very serious business! But no they give us shells so we can't do anything, so we can be like everyone else. And if I say: 'Thank you founding fathers, thank you for everything', what is that? Sarcasm. Once again Prigozhin with his rude manner is trolling the respectable persons" .

Assad agrees to more Russian bases and troops in Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday he would welcome any Russian proposals to create new military bases and increase troop numbers in the Middle Eastern country, and stressed that Russia's military presence there must become permanent.

Assad, who met President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on Wednesday, backed Russia's war in Ukraine and told Russia's state news agency RIA that Damascus recognizes illegally annexed Ukrainian territories as part of Russia. "These are Russian territories, and even if the war had not happened, these are historically Russian territories," Assad said in an interview with the RIA news agency.

"We think that the expansion of the Russian presence in Syria is a good thing," he also said in the conversation. "Russia's military presence in any country should not be based on something temporary. We believe that if Russia is willing to expand its bases or increase their number, it is a technical or logistical issue."

Along with the Khmeimim airbase, from which Russia launches airstrikes in support of Assad, Moscow also controls the Tartus naval facility in Syria, its only Soviet-era naval base in the Mediterranean. Russia's Defense Ministry said in January that Russia and Syria had restored the Al Jarrah military air base in northern Syria to be used jointly. The small base east of Aleppo was captured by Islamic State militants in 2017.

When Russia intervened in the Syrian civil war in 2015, it helped tip the scales in Assad's favor, ensuring the Syrian leader's survival despite Western demands for his ouster.

His years as president have been marked by the conflict, which began in 2011 with peaceful protests before spiraling into a multi-faceted conflict that has devastated the Middle Eastern country and attracted both foreign friends and foes.

Assad has regained control of much of the country with the help of Russia and Iran, aided by the fact that his allies have always been more committed to his survival than his enemies to his defeat.

Slovak minister: If we give our MiG-29s to Ukraine, we get 0 million

If Slovakia provides its decommissioned MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, it will receive financial compensation of 0 million from its allies, Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said, as quoted by the and TASS news portal.

"For its fighters, Slovakia would receive from the US and other allies 900 million dollars in the form of cash and military equipment," the minister announced. He added that members of the Slovak government believe that the best solution would be to provide the fighters to Kyiv.

Nad announced yesterday that the cabinet may decide on sending MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine at one of the upcoming meetings. Prime Minister Eduard Heger expressed confidence that Kyiv will receive the military aircraft. The issue was discussed by the Defense and Security Committee of the Slovak Parliament. No such decision was made at today's government meeting, TASS reported, referring to Slovak radio.

According to Slovak media, the country has 11 MiG-29 fighters, 10 of which could be sent to Ukraine, and one could be kept as a museum exhibit.

EU buys military radar for Moldova as Russian missiles fly over the country

The European Union will pump 40 million euros into Moldova's military as Russian missiles fly over the country for strikes on Ukraine and pressure grows from pro-Russian forces to topple the government.

A significant portion of this new aid will go towards a long-range mobile ground-based radar to help control airspace, EUobserver reported. It cites an internal EU document which says the rest of the funds are earmarked for "light tactical off-road vehicles and pick-ups", buses, trucks, forklifts, communications equipment and hardware, and anti-hacking programs.

The money will come from the so-called European instrument for peace - a fund of the member countries in the amount of 8 billion euros mainly to support Ukraine.

Procurement under the package for Moldova will be led by the Estonian Defense Investment Centre, which is the procurement arm for the Baltic country's armed forces.

The cited document says that on a bilateral basis the authorities in Chisinau receive aid from Great Britain, the United States, Germany and Romania.

Moldova has also said it plans to buy "an airspace surveillance radar system in addition to the radar so proposed."

The EU's concrete decision will be made in March or April and the delivery will be made very quickly, EU sources say.

The army of Moldova numbers about 6,500 people and is equipped with old Soviet weapons. Over the past two years, the EU has financed its modernization with 47 million euros, which is practically a doubling of the country's defense budget, which is constitutionally neutral.

From October 2021, the EU allocated more than €1 billion "to strengthen Moldova's resilience", including humanitarian programs and budget support to deal with the wave of refugees from Ukraine. EU cyber defense and counter-propaganda specialists are working with the government in Chisinau. The EU External Relations Office is preparing a concept for a new civilian mission advising Moldova on how to deal with the critical situation.

Politico: US prepares Ukraine for counteroffensive in May

Washington is increasingly concerned about dwindling supplies of ammunition and air defenses to Ukraine, and the US military is rushing to equip the battlefield and train Ukrainian forces at a rapid pace ahead of a major offensive against Russia expected by the end of spring, writes Politico.

The publication quoted US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as saying on Wednesday after a virtual meeting of the Multinational Defense Contact Group on Ukraine, where he said "Ukraine has no time to lose."

"We must deliver quickly and fully on our promised commitments," Austin said. "This includes bringing our armored capability to the battlefield and ensuring that Ukrainian soldiers receive the training, spare parts and maintenance support they need to use these new systems as soon as possible."

Publicly, senior officials say it is entirely up to President Volodymyr Zelensky when and where to launch the new offensive and whether to stay in Bakhmut or reposition his forces.

"President Zelensky is fighting this battle, and he's going to decide what's important and what's not," Austin said. But he noted that: "We are generating combat power to the extent that we believe it will provide them with opportunities to change the dynamics of the battlefield, at some point down the road, whatever it is."

As spring approaches, US officials are increasingly concerned about Ukraine's dwindling supply of ammunition, air defenses and experienced soldiers. Moscow and Kyiv continue to throw bodies into the battle for a southeastern city that the US does not consider strategically important. But the Pentagon says that regardless of Kyiv’s battle strategy, the US wants Ukrainian soldiers to have the weapons they need to keep fighting.

Russia has spent months peppering Ukraine with missiles, trying not only to cause destruction but also to deplete Ukraine's air defense reserves. Ukrainian soldiers speak of acute shortages of basic ammunition, including mortars and artillery shells. Politico, citing American sources, suggests that more than 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers, including the most experienced, have died over the course of a year.

Many of these losses, the publication adds, occur in Bakhmut, where both sides suffer huge casualties. Led by soldiers from the Wagner mercenary group, Russia besieged the southeastern city for nine months, reducing it to ruins. Ukrainian forces have refused to surrender, with President Volodymyr Zelensky insisting that defending Bakhmut is key to holding other eastern cities.

"The Russians clearly want to push forward to the borders of Donetsk all the way to the west, and to do that they need to take control of Bakhmut and the road network that runs along it," said Dara Massicot, a senior policy researcher at the RAND Institute. Austin himself recently told reporters that Bakhmut has "more symbolic value than strategic and operational value."

US officials are more focused on preparing Ukraine for a major spring offensive to retake territory they expect to begin in May. Hundreds of Western tanks and armored vehicles, including for the first time eight armored vehicles that can build bridges and allow troops to cross rivers, are traveling to Ukraine for the offensive. The US and European partners are also sending massive amounts of ammunition and 155mm rounds, which Ukraine has identified as its most urgent need.

US aid packages "since four or five months ago have been targeted at what Ukraine needs for this counteroffensive," a US official said. The Americans are careful not to tell Kyiv how to fight the war, and senior Pentagon sources said on Wednesday that equipment and training provided by Washington would allow Ukraine to win the war - wherever and whenever it chooses to do so.

"Significant ongoing efforts are being made to build up the Ukrainian military in terms of equipment, ammunition and training in various countries to enable Ukraine to defend itself," said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

"Increased Ukrainian capacity will allow the Ukrainian leadership to develop and execute various options in the future to achieve their goals and bring this war to a successful conclusion," Milley said.

More than 600 Ukrainians in February completed a five-week training program in Germany that included basic skills such as marksmanship, along with medical training and instruction in combined arms maneuvers with US-made Bradley fighting vehicles and Stryker armored personnel carriers. Those forces are now back on the battlefield, and a second batch of hundreds of soldiers is now going through the program.

Behind closed doors, U.S. officials are pressuring Kyiv to keep the artillery shells and fire in a more targeted manner. This is particularly worrisome in Bakhmut, where both sides are using up ammunition at a rapid rate.

"Some in the Pentagon think they're burning through ammunition too quickly," said retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former commander of U.S. Army Forces Europe. "Excuse me, they are in a massive battle for their country's survival against an enemy that has huge advantages in artillery ammunition and is not giving up."

Kyiv has not yet decided on a strategy for the spring offensive, but essentially has two options: move south through Kherson to Crimea, or move east from its northern position and then south, cutting off the Russian land bridge, U.S. officials say military.

The first option is not realistic, officials said, because Russia has entrenched its defenses on the east side of the Dnieper River and Ukraine does not have the manpower for a successful amphibious operation against such a force. The latter is more likely, Pentagon officials say.

In addition to sending weapons and providing training, senior US generals hosted the Ukrainian military in Wiesbaden, Germany this month for table-top staff exercises to help Kyiv launch the next phase of the war.

President Joe Biden last month ruled out sending F-16 fighter jets, and senior U.S. officials have repeatedly said the planes are not currently in the plans. But the Americans are working in other ways to strengthen Ukraine's air force, including trying to fit advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles on their Soviet-era MiG-29s and assessing the skills of Ukrainian pilots.

Two Ukrainian pilots recently completed an assessment at an Air National Guard base in Tucson, Arizona, for US military instructors to assess what training they need to better use the aircraft and capabilities the West has already provided, including bombs, missiles and targeting kits. The program included flight simulators, but the pilots did not fly in U.S. aircraft, officials said.

The attempt to mount AMRAAMs on the MiGs, if successful, could also significantly increase the ability of Ukrainian fighter jets to destroy Russian missiles, officials said.

The EU is under pressure about the Russian oil price ceiling

The countries of the Group of Seven want to keep the upper limit of the price of Russian crude oil at 60 dollars per barrel, reported the American newspaper "Wall Street Journal", quoted by Reuters.

The European Commission has alerted the bloc's members to the G7 position after US President Joe Biden told its chairwoman Ursula von der Leyen last week that there was no appetite in Washington to fix oil sanctions, added the article published on Wednesday.

"US President Joe Biden told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a White House Oval Office meeting last week that Washington has no desire to adjust oil restrictions," the newspaper's sources said.

As part of the sanctions against Russia, the EU joined in December the decision of the world's seven most developed economies to limit the price of Russian oil transactions for third countries that use tankers, insurance, banking and others services of companies registered in the EU, USA, Canada, Great Britain, Japan and Australia, when buying Russian crude oil.

This week, representatives of EU countries begin discussions on a possible revision of the Russian oil price ceiling. According to existing agreements, the review takes place every two months. In January, as a result of negotiations, it was decided to keep the ceiling at 60 dollars per barrel.

On Wednesday, the American agency "Bloomberg", citing informed sources, reported that Poland, Latvia and Lithuania are calling for a reduction in the price ceiling for oil from Russia, from to .45 per barrel, to fall below market prices and to hit Russian revenues harder.

According to the three European capitals, this would reduce Russia's income from oil sales by another 0 million.

The International Energy Agency reported on Wednesday that Moscow earned .6 billion from oil exports in February, a 42 percent drop from February 2022.

Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have consistently called for tougher sanctions against Russia. During negotiations on the price ceiling last year, their demands were ignored because of the position of Washington, which insisted that the limits be set at a level that does not threaten the supply of fuels on world markets.

European leaders will have the final say on the sanctions decision at their meeting in Brussels next week.

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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