Ukraine Latest: Russia May Have Lost Half of Main Battle Tanks

Russia launched a new cruise missile barrage on Thursday against critical infrastructure facilities. Some three dozen missiles were launched from the air and sea; many were intercepted. It was the first major bombing in a week, but one of more than a dozen such attacks since early October.

(Bloomberg) — Russia launched a new cruise missile barrage on Thursday against critical infrastructure facilities. Some three dozen missiles were launched from the air and sea; many were intercepted. It was the first major bombing in a week, but one of more than a dozen such attacks since early October. 

Russia is likely to continue suffering mounting casualties as it recruits more ill-equipped and ill-trained soldiers and intensifies attacks in eastern Ukraine, according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. 

A UK-based think tank said Russia may have lost half of its main battle tanks in the past year. Google said Russian state-backed hacking attacks on Ukraine are near-constant. 

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

Key Developments

  • Putin’s War Is Crippling Ukraine’s Economy—Maybe Russia’s, Too
  • EBRD Warns on Sanctions Busting as Russia Neighbors’ Trade Booms
  • Russian Hackers Slammed Ukraine Last Year, Google Says 
  • Displaced Ukrainians Are Reinventing Their Lives
  • US Concerned Iran and Others Aiding Russia to Secure Chips
  • Ukraine Invasion Shows World’s War Machine Needs More Ammunition

On the Ground

One person was killed, eight injured and more than 80 residences damaged in Pavlohrad, in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, after Russian’s overnight missile attack. Ukraine’s air defenses downed fewer than half the 36 Russian missiles fired overnight. Air defense spokesman Yuriy Ihnat put out another urgent call for modern air defense systems. Russian forces on Wednesday continued offensive operations around Bakhmut, along the western outskirts of Donetsk City, and in western Donetsk oblast, said the Institute for the Study of War. 

(All times CET)

Ukraine Defense Chief Says It’s Adopting NATO Standards (7:41 p.m.)

Ukraine is committed to implementing NATO standards and is already using the military alliance’s logistics system, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said after meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, according to the Ukrainian military’s media center.

“It’s about minimizing planning time and maximizing the speed of exchanging of logistical plans and reports, both within the Defense Forces of Ukraine and our partners,” Reznikov said. “ It’s about transparency, accountability and complete openness on our part.”

Estonia Calls for 100 Billion Euros in Aid for Ukraine This Year (4:45 p.m.)

Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur made the call at a news conference in Tallinn with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Pevkur added that the Europe Union should jointly provide Ukraine with 1 million artillery rounds this year, in accordance with an Estonian proposal that the bloc’s member states are reviewing, and that NATO allies should increase their annual defense spending “closer to” 2.5% of GDP.

EU Must Spend $4 Billion on Ammunition for Ukraine, Estonia Says

Israel Says it Will Help Ukraine Build Missile Warning System (4:20 p.m.)

Israel will help Ukraine develop an early warning missile detection system and provide as much as $200 million for healthcare and other civilian projects, Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen’s said during a visit to Kyiv on Thursday.

Cohen’s announcement followed a meeting with his counterpart Dmytro Kuleba during the first high-level Israeli visit to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last year. “I am proud to stand with Ukraine in the face of these challenging times, and Israel is committed to continuing our support,” said Cohen, according to a statement from Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

Ukraine had been critical of Israel for failing to supply weapons and an air defense system.

Putin Hails Movement of Ukrainian Children to Russian Families (3:00 p.m.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the transfer of children from four occupied regions of Ukraine into Russian families, after a US report concluded that thousands had been placed in “political reeducation” camps including some subjected to forcible adoption that may constitute war crimes.

“The number of applications from our citizens regarding the adoption of children” from the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions is growing, Putin said in a televised meeting with Maria Lvova-Belova, the Kremlin’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights. Lvova-Belova, 38, who has at least 10 children, told the president that she had “adopted” a 15-year-old boy from Mariupol.

The meeting took place after the School of Public Health’s Humanitarian Research Lab at Yale University on Tuesday reported that at least 6,000 Ukrainian children aged from 4 months to 17 years had been placed in “political reeducation” camps in Russia and occupied Crimea, with some later adopted or sent to foster families.

The US government-backed report named Lvova-Belova as “one of the most highly involved figures in Russia’s deportation and adoption of Ukraine’s children.” She has been sanctioned by the US, the UK, the European Union, Australia and Canada for her role.

Wagner Leader Blames Russian Defense Ministry for Slow Bakhmut Offensive (11:51 a.m.)

Russian forces won’t be able to surround the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut earlier than March or April, said Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner mercenary group. He blamed “monstrous bureaucracy” in Russia’s defense ministry for the failure to make quicker progress. 

Prigozhin said in messages posted on Telegram that Wagner’s troops are facing “colossal” artillery fire in Bakhmut, where they’ve battled with Ukrainian forces for months. He claimed Russia’s military command is reluctant to expend ammunition while Ukrainian soldiers are being reinforced with new weapons and retain good morale. 

The mercenary leader, who’s risen to greater public prominence in Russia during the war, has long been an outspoken critic of the Defense Ministry’s conduct of the invasion.

Canada Pledges Additional Money for De-mining (11:40 a.m.)

Canada has pledged another C$7.5 million ($5.6 million) for Ukraine’s de-mining efforts, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Twitter following a meeting with Melanie Joly, Canada’s minister for foreign affairs. 

EU’s Sanctions Envoy to Brief Diplomats on Russia Penalties

David O’Sullivan, the EU’s ambassador for sanctions enforcement, is planning to meet with the bloc’s ambassadors in Brussels on Feb. 22 to discuss sanctions implementation against Russia and new restrictive measures, said people familiar with the matter.

The talks, expected to take place during an informal breakfast, will come as the bloc is preparing its 10th package of sanctions, which it aims to finish by Feb. 24, one year since Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Russia Has Lost Half Its Tanks in Ukraine, UK Think-Tank Says (10:40 a.m.) 

Russia’s military has lost at least half of its tanks since it invaded Ukraine almost a year ago, according to a report by the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. 

About 50% of Russia’s pre-war fleet of T-72B3 and T-72B3M tanks, and many of its T-80s, have probably been lost, the think-tank said in a report published on Wednesday. Moscow has brought in older equipment as replacements. 

Russia in 2022 probably also lost 6% to 8% of its active tactical combat aircraft inventory, IISS said. 

Google Says Russian Hackers Have Slammed Ukraine (10 a.m.)

State-sponsored hackers have inundated Ukrainian targets with a “near-constant digital attack” since last February, Alphabet Inc.’s Google said in a new report ahead of the Munich Security Conference that starts on Friday. 

Google’s threat analysis group (TAG) said Russian government-backed attackers have increased their attempted hacks on Ukrainian users by 250% in the past year compared with 2020. Ukraine’s ministries of defense and foreign affairs were among the top targets.  

Stoltenberg Urges Turkey to Green-Light Nordics Into NATO (10 a.m.)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged Turkey to approve accession of Sweden and Finland to the military alliance, even as Turkey’s foreign minister said Sweden needs to do more to crack down on terrorism.

“They’ve both made big steps since we signed the joint memorandum of understanding,” Stoltenberg said of the Nordic countries at a a joint presser with Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara. The NATO chief also condemned the recent burning of Islam’s holy book in Stockholm while adding that Sweden has been able to prevent other demonstrations. 

“We can separately evaluate the membership process of Finland and Sweden,” Cavusoglu said. 

Worst Is Over in Russia’s War on Ukrainian Energy, Operator Says (9:23 a.m.)

The worst damage wrought by Russia’s campaign to destroy the Ukrainian energy grid is probably over because of improved air defense and Moscow’s deteriorating ability to strike, the head of the nation’s grid operator said. 

Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the chief executive officer of NPC Ukrenergo, said that the approaching end of winter will offer relief even as Russia continues to send salvos of missiles and drones to target infrastructure. 

Norway Agrees to $7.4 Billion Support Over Five Years (9:10 a.m.)

Norway’s government and a broad majority of the parties in the parliament have agreed on a 75 billion-krone ($7.4 billion) five-year program to support Ukraine. 

There is also broad agreement on the provision of additional assistance to developing countries affected by the global ramifications of the war in Ukraine. 

The pledge follows a push from European officials for Norway to share its windfall export gains from higher gas prices. Ukraine’s president addressed Norway’s parliament on Thursday morning. 

Ukraine Power Systems Hold Up After Overnight Attacks (9 a.m.) 

Ukraine’s electricity generation continues to cover demand and certain reserves of power capacity are now available, Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said on the ministry website.

The nuclear plants in Ukraine-controlled territory are producing more than half of all electric power in the country, he said.

Volodymyr Kudrytskiy, CEO of Ukrenegro, said at a press conference in Kyiv that no new electricity cuts are expected for now. 

Ukraine Downs 16 of 36 Russian Cruise Missiles (8:11 a.m.)

Ukraine’s air defense downed 16 out of 36 Russian missiles fired overnight on Thursday, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said on Telegram.

The missiles were fired from strategic bombers near Kursk and the Caspian Sea in Russia, as well as from fighter jets near the Russia-occupied Ukrainian city Melitopol, and from ships in the Black Sea.

Missiles struck the north and west of the country, as well as in Dnipropetrovsk and Kyrovohrad regions, said chief of Ukrainian presidential office Andriy Yermak. 

Israel’s Foreign Minister Visits Kyiv (8 a.m.)

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen arrived in Kyiv, the first high-level visit by an Israeli official to Ukraine since the invasion. He’s expected to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart and with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. 

Cohen will visit Bucha, Babyn Yar and mark the reopening of Israel’s embassy. “During the past year, Israel has stood by the Ukrainian people and by the side of Ukraine,” he said.

Russian Air Sorties Have Increased in Past Week, UK Says (7:30 a.m.)

Russia’s sortie rates have increased in the past week after a period of quieter activity, but it has deployed a similar number of planes in the Ukrainian operation for months, the UK defense ministry said. 

Moscow’s combat jets “operate almost exclusively over Russian-held territory, preventing them from carrying out their key strike role effectively,” the ministry said in a Twitter thread. 

EBRD Warns on Sanctions Busting Involving Russia’s Neighbors (7 a.m.)

Booming trade flows with Russia’s neighbors may be a sign that sanctions imposed in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine are being avoided, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Read more: EBRD Warns on Sanctions Busting as Russia Neighbors’ Trade Booms



(An earlier version erroneously reported which senior official is scheduled to meet with EU ambassadors.)

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