Former Defense Intelligence Agency Officer Rebekah Koffler discusses why peace talks are unlikely between Russia, Ukraine, and the U.S., on'Varney & Co.' As we have welcome the New Year, many on both sides of the Atlantic are wondering whether the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the biggest war in Europe since World War II, will come to an end this year. The largest country on the continent, Ukraine, is being depopulated, having lost more than 100,000 of its citizens to death or injury. Europe itself is being destabilized by financial woes and influx of refugees from war-torn areas. Contrary to the hopes of many, not only will 2023 not bring peace, it will likely see the most bloodshed yet, as the key warring parties – Moscow, Kyiv, and Washington, D.C. – are all postured for decisive escalation. Here's why we are probably entering the "hottest" phase of this war.
Several blasts shook Kyiv on Monday, days after Russia blamed Ukraine for drone attacks on its Crimea fleet in the Black Sea. At least five explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital between 8:00 am (0600 GMT) and 8:20 am, according to AFP journalists. Kyiv had already been hit on October 10 and 17 by drones. After Monday's blasts, mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a Telegram message: "An area of Kyiv is without electricity and certain areas without water following Russian strikes." Monday's attack on the Ukrainian capital comes after Russia pulled out of a landmark agreement that allowed vital grain shipments via a maritime safety corridor.
Russia's blockade of grain exports makes it "impossible" for fully loaded ships to leave port, Ukraine charged Sunday after Moscow claimed drone attacks on its Crimea fleet had exploited the grain corridor safe zone. Kyiv's maritime grain exports were halted after Russia pulled out of a landmark agreement that allowed the vital shipments. The July deal to unlock grain exports signed between Russia and Ukraine and brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, is critical to easing the global food crisis caused by the conflict. "(A) bulk carrier loaded with 40 tons of grain was supposed to leave the Ukraine port today," Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted. "These foodstuffs were intended for Ethiopians, that are on the verge of famine. But due to the blockage of the'grain corridor' by Russia the export is impossible," the Ukrainian minister said.
A little before 7am on Monday, people in Kyiv heard a whining sound overhead before identifying where it was coming from – a group of "kamikaze" drones flying into the city. Drones have been widely used on both sides of the Ukraine conflict, but these were the first Russian attacks that deployed swarms of the aircraft. Videos and images began to circulate on social media of the drones flying directly over urban infrastructure such as power stations, residential buildings and railways as civilians and soldiers tried to shoot them down with guns. About 28 were launched on Monday morning in Kyiv. At least four civilians were killed after one of the aircraft hit a residential building.
Ret. Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg joined'Your World' to discuss NATO holding nuclear exercises and recent Iranian-made'kamikaze' drones striking Kyiv. Russian drone and missile attacks have destroyed nearly a third of Ukraine's power stations, but Ukrainian forces continue to gain ground President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Tuesday. Russia has launched barrages of missiles, shells and other ordnance into Ukrainian cities in a campaign that started after the bombing of the Kerch Bridge on October 8. The attacks have targeted population centers, parks and infrastructure as Ukraine's cold winter approaches. "Since Oct 10, 30% of Ukraine's power stations have been destroyed, causing massive blackouts across the country," Zelenskyy announced Tuesday.
The Ukrainian army's astute use of drones has been a cornerstone of its defence against the powerful Russian invader, but experts say their role is beginning to fade as heavy artillery takes over. In the early phase of the war, Ukraine's sky seemed filled with the remote-controlled aircraft deployed by President Volodymyr Zelensky's army to spy on the enemy, or go on the attack. During Moscow's early advance on Kyiv "it would have been extremely challenging for Ukraine to block (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's army without drones", said Paul Lushenko, a US Army Lieutenant Colonel and PhD student at Cornell University. "They could compound or exacerbate Putin's strategic and logistical challenges," he told AFP. The Turkish-made Bayraktar drone, known as TB-2, already famous worldwide, added to its stellar reputation during the defence of Ukraine's capital. On top of providing intelligence on Russian movements, drones also helped Ukraine offset much of its air force's weakness compared to that of Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin instated a new commander to lead operations in Ukraine as officials warn Moscow is looking to shift its focus in eastern Ukraine after more than six weeks of war. Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, commander of Russia's southern military district (SMD), will now lead the invasion, first reported the BBC late Friday. Image released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense on Thursday Feb 17, 2022 shows the frontline of Donbas, a conflict area with the Russian-backed separatists, during President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's visit to the Donetsk region in the east of Ukraine. Dvornikov not only has known experience in Russia's campaign in Syria, but also led military exercises in southern Russia last year, right along Ukraine's border with the Donbas region. A western official told the outlet that the change in command will improve Russia's flagging invasion after it failed to take the capital city of Kyiv despite weeks of shelling and attempts to push ground forces across the country.
From a huge Russian military convoy snaking its way to Kyiv to missile strikes and refugee crossings, commercial satellite imagery of the Ukraine conflict is helping lift the fog of war, illuminating for the public what was previously the domain of spy agencies. Technologies that can pierce cloud cover and work at night are also coming to the fore, as a growing army of open-source intelligence analysts offer near real time assessments of battleground developments. "Governments are no longer the only place to go for high precision satellite data," Craig Nazareth, a former US intelligence officer turned scholar at the University of Arizona, told AFP. Thanks to the explosive growth of the private satellite industry, the volume of imagery is greater and turnaround time faster compared to prior conflicts, such as Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. While most Western governments have their own sophisticated satellite assets, their classified nature means the images can't be shared.