Humanitarian disaster in Mariupol, Kherson as Russia’s war goes on - CDS
The invading Russian army continues to attempt to advance towards Kyiv, but is repulsed, advances in the south-east and regularly violates the ceasefire agreements
The Center for Defense Strategies, a Ukrainian think tank, has been operating since 2020. At the current stage of Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine it is sharing its expertise on a daily basis.
Below is the Center’s latest news update as of March 9.
Humanitarian disaster in Mariupol
Invading Russian forces have committed another appalling war crime in Mariupol – The Russian Air Force deliberately destroyed the city’s main children’s hospital in an airstrike.
Several bombs were dropped on the hospital. The building of the medical institution, including its pediatric, maternity and infectious diseases departments, was completely destroyed. An unknown number of women and children are currently under the rubble. As of 1700 on March 9, a total of 17 people were known to have died, and rescue work was continuing.
It is very difficult to find proper words to describe this atrocity. It is hard to imagine what kind of people could have taken the decision to bomb a children’s hospital. And it is more difficult to see Russian propaganda immediately washing off the negativity from this case. A famous Russian propaganda presenter has already said that the building was not a hospital and that the wounded people were actors.
Mariupol has been under siege for more than a week, during which time it has suffered the most violent airstrikes, shelling from multiple launch rocket systems and artillery barrages. The city is experiencing a full-scale humanitarian catastrophe. Due to the shelling, there are no communications, electricity, water, or gas. People collect rainwater and snow to cook over open fires. Communal workers are collecting bodies from the streets for burial in mass graves.
During these first two weeks of the war, 1,207 civilians are known to have been killed as a result of shelling and the deliberate targeting of civilians in Mariupol. Invading Russian troops are not allowing the evacuation of civilians from the city, and a humanitarian convoy is being prevented from entering the city. Several evacuation attempts have been foiled by Russian forces.
Russia has thwarted the evacuation of civilians from Kyiv Oblast (occupied villages and towns north of the city of Kyiv) and Kharkiv Oblast. The evacuation of civilians was planned for the following routes:
- Energodar – Zaporizhzhya;
- Sumy – Poltava;
- Mariupol –Zaporizhzhya;
- Volnovakha – Pokrovsk;
- Izyum – Lozova and Vorzel,
- Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin, Gostomel – Kyiv.
Russian forces are still failing to fulfill their obligations regarding ceasefires. A policeman was killed and two other people were injured in one ceasefire-breaking incident. The Russian army also blocked 50 evacuation buses in Stoyanka (Bucha District, Kyiv Oblast) and did not allow the convoy to pass. Negotiations involving the Red Cross failed. Due to the ongoing Russian shelling, only 250 people were evacuated from Izyum, Kharkiv region.
Additionally, the "green corridor" to Lozova could not be used, and people were taken to Slovyansk, a town in the Donbas. Due to the failure of the evacuation, a humanitarian convoy also failed to reach Izyum.
The Russian invaders have continued shelling the civilian population of Sumy. The bombing by the Russian Air Force killed civilians, including elderly people and children. About 5,000 people have been evacuated from the city.
Kherson residents are resisting the invaders, while Russian troops are trying to establish an administrative-police regime in the city. In Kherson Oblast, a Russian National Guard unit has illegally detained more than 400 citizens of Ukraine. The invaders have seized a pre-trial detention center. According to the information from the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights, it will be used to detain Ukrainian citizens. According to reports, the Russian troops have also seized the building of the Security Service of Ukraine in Kherson.
An attempt to evacuate civilians is also continuing under the auspices of the Red Cross from the city of Energodar (Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant), which has been under Russian control for five days. The invaders did not allow humanitarian aid (including insulin) to reach Energodar. The radiological building of the oncological center in Kharkiv suffered significant damage as a result of the shelling by the Russian army.
Russian naval forces seized and forcibly transported the civilian rescue ship Sapphire to the city of Sevastopol.
Victor Lyashko, head of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, said that Ukraine now has a shortage of medical workers, and they have to work in deteriorating conditions. He said that over a thousand foreign doctors are to arrive in Ukraine.
Over 120,000 people crossed the western border of Ukraine in the past 24 hours, which is 10% less than on March 7.
Security of energy and nuclear power plants
Zaporizhzhya and Chornobyl NPP staff are being held hostage by Russian invaders. There are reports that some employees of Zaporizhzhya NPP have been tortured (we will clarify this information in due course). In addition, there are reports that Russian troops plan to use the staff of the nuclear power plant for propaganda purposes.
The Chornobyl nuclear power plant is completely de-energized and cannot be repaired as a result of the hostile actions of the occupants. Diesel generators will provide power to the plant and its facilities for 48 hours. The cooling system of the spent nuclear fuel storage will then be turned off, resulting in radiation leakage (about 20,000 spent fuel assemblies are kept at the storage facility). The current shift of staff of the nuclear power plant has been on duty for almost two weeks, since the Russian army took over the plant.
The IAEA has lost communication with the monitoring equipment that ensures that all nuclear materials remain in place at the Chornobyl NPP. At the same time, the organization reported on its official Twitter page that it has not observed any critical safety violations at the plant.
There have been reports that Russia is redeploying an aircraft from the Far East to a special unit of the armed forces that services the nuclear reactors of nuclear submarines. This may be among preparations for a provocation at Zaporizhzhya NPP (or South-Ukrainian NPP) – for instance, artificial damage to the reactor operation support systems, which will lead to a local release of radioactive materials (f. ex., cooling circuit). This could be used as an essential element of pressure on the political leadership of Ukraine and the international community.
On the evening of March 9, bombs were dropped on residential buildings in the city of Zhytomyr.
Ukraine in general
Foreign volunteers who have come to fight for Ukraine can obtain citizenship in the future (Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine).
The crime rate has dropped by 6-7 times in Kyiv since the beginning of the Russian invasion, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank approved more than $489 million for a development policy loan called “Financing of Recovery from Economic Emergency in Ukraine – FREE Ukraine” between Ukraine and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The U.S. Congress increased its assistance to Ukraine to $13.6 billion. Part of it will go to an airplane deal.
The UK Defense Secretary reported that UK Government is considering the possibility of sending high-velocity Starstreak missiles to Ukraine. The day before, the President of Ukraine addressed the House of Commons, giving a powerful speech and appealing for help. London’s decision to provide air defense weapons to Kyiv comes as Ukraine suffers criminal attacks on its cities by Russian aircraft and missiles, while NATO refuses to provide a no-fly zone over the country.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that allies are helping Ukraine uphold its right to self-defense as enshrined in the UN Charter, and an attack on the territory or forces of countries supplying weapons to Ukraine will be seen as an attack against the entire alliance. The United States will shift two Army Patriot air defense batteries from Germany to Poland. These steps came as an answer to Moscow’s threats to take measures against countries that provide their territory for the operation of warplanes to participate in Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Earlier, Poland made the unexpected announcement that it will move 23 of its MiG-29 fight jets to Ramstein airbase to be transferred to the United States, which will then be given to Ukrainian Air Defense Forces.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that the United States is working with Poland on this issue, but moving the fighter jets to Germany does not seem to be sound or justified. Warsaw is interested in strengthening Ukraine’s air defense capabilities, but is also working to ensure the swift restoration of its own defense capacities via receiving, most likely, F-16s from the United States. It also treats seriously Moscow’s threats that it will respond directly to a potential move of fighter jets to Ukraine.
The EU has agreed on a new package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus, to be approved at its summit on March 11. In particular, these will include cutting three Belarus banks off from the SWIFT payment system, expanding the list of oligarchs under sanction, and restrictions on shipping. Further sanctions against Russia and its satellites will aim at closing gaps that allow previously introduced sanctions and restrictions to be circumvented.
EU leaders will also agree on political decisions, like determining that Russia’s aggression “constitutes a tectonic shift in European history,” which requires states to “take more responsibility for security and take further decisive steps towards building our European sovereignty.”
The UK Government plans to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year and end Russian gas imports, which account for 4% of the UK supply. Gradually, yet steadily, Moscow is losing its lucrative European markets, and thus, the possibility to corrupt European elites and influence European politics.
According to JP Morgan, U.S. sanctions caused 70% of Russian seaborne oil tankers to struggle to find buyers, while Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, estimated that over half of the oil exported from Russian ports remains unsold. Loss of markets and accompanying losses reduce the resources of Putin’s regime.
Western politicians are continuing to discuss the question of introducing a no-fly zone (NFZ) over Ukraine or a part of Ukraine (known already as a limited NFZ). The public is pressuring leaders to discuss introducing a limited NFZ for humanitarian purposes, for instance – over western Ukraine, large cities, and NPPs. It can be created by Ukrainian and Ukrainian partners’ aircraft and air defense systems. A refusal to introduce a humanitarian no-fly zone will lead to:
- more victims among Ukrainian civilians;
- a massive influx of Ukrainian refugees to the EU - up to 10 million in 2-3 months;
- potential disasters at NPPs;
- possible expansion of military activities to NATO;
- deterioration of the economy and social standards, reputational losses for European states’ governments.
The invasion of Ukraine has already led to economic collapse in Russia. The international rating agency Fitch has downgraded Russia's long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating from B to C, which implies the inevitability of a sovereign default. The Central Bank of the Russian Federation has imposed strict currency restrictions on the sale, purchase, and exchange of financial assets.
This will also have an impact on the financial system of Belarus, in the banks of which Russians will start actively buying up currency. This will lead to another devaluation of the ruble and the freezing of accounts in Belarusian banks.
Banks in Russia have begun to offer new deposits in Chinese renminbi. In response to Japan's claims regarding the Kuril territory in Russia’s Far East, Putin signed legislation on tax breaks for new organizations registered in the Kuril Islands. They will not pay income and property taxes, land and transport taxes for 20 years from the date of registration.
The withdrawal of hundreds of international companies from Russia has had a significant impact on the labor market. More than 150,000 people lost their jobs on March 10 and March 9. The withdrawal of business and the ban on social networks means the suspension of advertising campaigns, which in 2021 were estimated to be worth almost $2 billion on the Russian market.
The volume of shipping in the vicinity of Russia's seaports has decreased by 30% (The Wall Street Journal). The number of downtime ships tripled on March 8 compared to February 28.
Russian media are changing their rhetoric regarding the war in Ukraine, releasing narratives on the “success of Russian troops in preventing aggression against military formations” of the CDDLO (Certain Districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) and Ukraine's readiness to consider the issue of adopting a “neutral status.”
Russia's Ministry of Defense has officially acknowledged that conscript soldiers are fighting in Ukraine. The Russians also admitted that some of their soldiers have been captured by the Ukrainian military.
The enemy has significantly reduced its pace of advance, but has not yet given up the offensive operation. Russian troops are demoralized; soldiers surrender or desert en masse. They keep concentrating their main efforts on encircling Kyiv, capturing Sumy,Kharkiv, Mariupol, and Mykolaiv; as well as creating a land corridor between occupied Crimea and Russia.
No active operations were reported, but there is still a high probability of sabotage acts at military facilities and civilian infrastructure in the Rivne and Lviv oblasts by special covert reconnaissance units of the invaders.
The enemy operates with individual units from the 29th, 35th, and 36th General Army, the Pacific Fleet, and the Airborne Troops. According to available information, the enemy is regrouping now to prepare for another attempt to take Kyiv. The enemy is attempting to resume offensive actions close to Fastiv near Kyiv, despite previous unsuccessful attempts.
The enemy is trying to resume its offensive using individual units of the 2nd and 41st Combined Arms Armies and the 90th Tank Division of the Central Military District. It crossed the Trubezh River using one battalion tactical group (BTG). It also blocked the E95 highway near Zalissya National Nature Park. In order to restore the combat readiness of the group, a BTG from the 55th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 41st General Army of the Central Military District has been moved to Ukraine from the operational reserve
The enemy is trying to hold the line from Severodonetsk to Sumy with individual units of the 1st Tank Army, the 20th General Army, the 6th General Army of the Western Military District, and the 14th Army Corps of the Northern Fleet. The enemy’s main efforts are concentrated on attempting to cordon off the city of Kharkiv and reaching a line along the Dnipro River.
Preparations for an attack on Sumy continue. The enemy is concentrating army aviation to support airborne operations.
East (Donetsk Oblast)
The invaders, using the forces of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps and separate units from the 150th Motorized Rifle Division of the 8th General Army, are trying to continue their offensive actions in previously selected directions in order to reach the administrative borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
The enemy holds the line from Kherson to Rozovka by means of individual units of the 49th General Army, the 22nd Army Corps, the 20th Motorized Rifle Division of the 8th General Army and Airborne units. Enemy attempts to cross the Southern Bug river were unsuccessful. In the Southern Bug Operational Area, the Russian occupants hold a line from Kherson to Kakhovka.
The Russian Federation is attempting to create a corridor from Transnistria to the Krasnodar region and cut Ukraine off from the sea. The enemy is pushing reserve forces from Crimea, regrouping existing units in southern Ukraine, and resuming an offensive in southern Ukraine to seize the seaports of Mykolaiv and Odesa. Strikes against Mykolaiv and a seaborne landing in Odesa (currently completing preparations near Crimea) are expected.
The involvement of Transnistrian troops (up to 8,000-10,000 men) is likely. It is possible that the Kyiv-Odesa highway will be blocked, which will make supply and evacuation difficult. According to U.S. estimates, the Russian armed forces have lost 8 to 10 percent of their military equipment since the start of the war in Ukraine, which amounts to 3 to 5 percent of Russia's overall military potential.
Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast
- Russian occupants launched three rockets at Boryspil in the Kyiv region. Two enemy missiles were intercepted by Ukrainian air defenses.
- In Kyiv, a Su-27 fighter jet shot down by the Ukrainian Air Force fell on a residential house near Osokorki metro station; the house was destroyed.
- The occupants targeted the regional cities of Mariupol, Kramatorsk, Volnovakha,Toretsk, Konstantinovka, Mikhailovka, Vladimirovka, and Novoluganskoye.
- Russian occupants shelled Severodonetsk three times, 10 people died, nine were wounded.
In the city of Malyn, Zhytomyr region, invading Russian troops bombed seven residential buildings and killed five people.
The situation on the border with unrecognized Transnistria is under control. Reconnaissance reports the movement of certain units, but their number is insufficient to endanger our borders.
Russian troops carried out an air raid on residential buildings in Sumy. The invaders dropped three bombs, killing 22 people, including three children from one family.
- The Russian military entered Skadovsk, took computers out of the city council and prevented residents from visiting the Shevchenko Monument.
- Due to fierce resistance from the citizens of Kherson, the occupying forces are trying to establish an administrative-police regime. For this purpose, Rosgvardia (Russian National Guard) units have entered Kherson Oblast and illegally detained over 400 citizens of Ukraine.
- Ukrainian television broadcasting has been restored.
- At least three bombs were dropped on the small village of Donets at night. Two civilians died, including a 7-year-old child.
There is no hot water supply in two-thirds of the city. The city is disconnected from the national energy grid. An autonomous power supply is in operation. There is no heating in about two-thirds of the city. Some areas are without cold water supplies. There was a direct strike in the heating network at the thermal power station. Four hundred people have been wounded, and 60 have been killed.
Total enemy combat losses from 24.02 to 09.03 as estimated on March 10 (updated):
Personnel - about 12,000 (up to +1,000 in the previous day);
Prisoners of war- up to 2,000;
Tanks - 303 (+8);
Armored combat vehicles (ACV) - 1,036 (+37);
Artillery systems - 120 (+3);
Multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) - 56 (+6);
Air defense systems - 27 (+4);
Airplanes - 48 (+2);
Helicopters - 80 (+22);
Motor vehicles - 474 (+20);
Light speedboats/ships - 3 (0);
Fuel tankers – 60 (0);
Operational-tactical drones – 7 (0).
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