An Update on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, 4 January 2023
As has become customary, the end of each year now features a bombardment of “Top 9” posts on social media. This is a trend that I don’t mind as it provides a quick glimpse into the recent year. When I downloaded my top 9 one of the images that featured was the Ukrainian capital Kiev in flames (see below). This image was one of the first to be shared following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it is hard to believe that today the war still rages on.
I remember vividly how I felt that day and how I truly thought the world would step in and reality would return.
The world has stepped in, which I doubt Russian President Putin expected, but the world has joined in slowly as everyone struggled to comprehend that war had once again come to the European continent.
When I last wrote about the conflict 40% of Ukraine’s power systems had been destroyed as Russia began a campaign against the countries critical infrastructure. Much of the capital remains without essential services but the resolve of the people remains.
An image that circulated the internet during December was of Kiev decorated for Christmas. Indeed, a picture tells what a thousand words could only try to illustrate but it also shows the resolve of the people that they remain unwilling to give in. We lost contact with our family in Ukraine months ago and are still awaiting news. We hoped that Christmas would bring answers to those, who like us, didn’t know what horrors our family and friends have had to witness. Instead the war continued.
It is this defiance and the support of the world that has been Russia’s undoing. In early November, President Putin passed a decree that allowed people convicted of serious crimes to be mobilised for the Russian army. Excluded are people who have committed sex crimes involving children and treasonous crimes. Everyone else can now be utilised in the campaign. This is so hard to believe but is it a sign that Russian manpower is crumbling? Later reports have suggested that almost half a million mercenaries have been engaged by the Russian-backed Wagner group with these contractors being drafted from all over the world, mainly countries sympathetic and friendly to Russia.
On 11 November Ukrainian troops liberated the city of Kherson which had been the scene of several fierce attacks. Just a few days later Russia launched close to 100 missiles across Ukrainian cities with one crossing into Poland killing two citizens.
Kherson would not remain safe from further Russian attack though and on Christmas Eve, 24 December, Russian forces shelled Kherson targeting a shopping centre and market, killing 10 and injuring 55. On the same day Russian troops moved towards Ukraine’s northern border from inside Belarussian territory.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, on the 15 December Ukrainian President Zelensky suggested that Russia start to withdraw its troops ahead of the religious season. In response Putin stated that there would be no ceasefire, not unless Ukraine accepted that the territory being held by Russia was now Russian territory permanently.
In the immediate lead up to Christmas, on 22 December, Putin was quoted calling the conflict a “war” while speaking to journalists. This was in direct contrast to earlier in the month on 7 December when Putin stated that what he calls the “special military operation” is taking longer than expected.
Back in March 2022 a censorship law was passed in Russia that forbid the conflict being called a war, so it appears that Putin has broken his own censorship law which has his critics calling for him to be imprisoned for treason as per the law.
The new year, 2023, saw Ukraine strike first, at 00:01 precisely, killing 400 Russian soldiers and injuring a further 300 (according to Ukrainians reports) in a missile strike on Makiivka which is in Russian held Donetsk. The site of the attack was a Russian military camp for new conscripts Russian reports suggest just 63 were killed but that American arsenal was used. Their figure was later updated to 89 and Russian media has blamed the conscripts use of their mobile phones for drawing Ukrainian attention to their position. Despite the camp being in an undisclosed location and phone usage banned it it said that conscripts ignored this order and so the mass appearance of mobile usage in the area is what alerted Ukrainian forces to their presence. Yes, it seems Russia is blaming their own new conscripts for this attack.
No matter what side is the perpetrator this war is senseless and the longer it continues the worst it becomes. I hope 2023 brings a return of common-sense and an end to the bloodshed.
*This blog has been put together with multiple current news sources such as the BBC World News Podcast, local nightly news and media outlets such as News.com
Articles and Websites:
"Ukraine War in Maps: Tracking the Russian Invasion", BBC News (15 August 2022), <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60506682>
"War in Ukraine", BBC World News (multiple articles), <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-60525350>
War in Ukraine (website of the War in Ukraine hosted by Ukraine), <www.war.ukraine.ua>
"Global Conflict Tracker", Council on Foreign Relations (Updated 12 May 2022), <https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/conflict-ukraine>
Disclaimer: The observations and comments made in this blog are made after reflecting on the news stories and histories I read. History plays a big part in how I understand the present so my comments largely take into account history and the role it has in the present. After all, those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.