Displaying items by tag: War
There were about 70,000 people living in Bakhmut before the invasion, but only a few thousand remain in the devastated city, once best known for its salt and gypsum mines and huge winery. The US believe over 20,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the battle for Bakhmut and another 80,000 wounded. Ukraine has not released figures on its Bakhmut casualties, but there have been heavy losses. Capturing Bakhmut would bring Russia slightly closer to its goal of controlling all of Donetsk region, one of four regions annexed by Russia following referendums widely condemned outside Russia as a sham. Russia's Wagner mercenary group has started withdrawing from Bakhmut and has vowed to transfer control of the city to the Russian army by 1 June, but Kyiv says it still controls pockets of the city.
Ukraine: weapons and counterattacks
The conflict in Ukraine is about to enter a new high-intensity phase as Kyiv’s troops gear up for an anticipated counteroffensive. Ukraine’s persistent lobbying of allies has yielded significant results as NATO members have gradually relented about supplying high-tech weapons. The fighting in the coming weeks is likely to be bloody, as Ukraine aims to take back territory which Russia captured in the opening weeks of the invasion. A mix of complex weapons from across the world will require the adept handling of logistics if the offensive is to keep up its momentum, and supply and repair are vital for any advance to be successful. The Ukrainian military will have its work cut out. Russian forces have had months to prepare for the series of battles that could define the nature of the war. Both sides realise what is at stake. Russia will not give up its ground easily, despite talk of low morale among its forces.
PM meets Zelenskyy at Chequers
The UK has agreed to send hundreds of long-range missiles and armed drones to Ukraine. This is on top of last week's decision to provide Kyiv with Storm Shadow cruise missiles. These moves mean the UK is going further than any other country in providing weapons with the potential to tip the war in Ukraine's favour. President Zelenskyy met Rishi Sunak at Chequers for two hours of talks as part of his tour of Western allies in preparation for the much-anticipated counter-offensive against Russia. If Ukraine can destroy Russia's command centres, logistics hubs and ammunition depots in occupied territory, it may prove impossible for Moscow to continue resupplying its frontline troops. Mr Zelenskyy said the Ukraine and UK are ‘real partners’.
Ukraine: hope amidst muddled messages
Whole towns flattened into fields of dirt, brick, and branches. People emerge from underground shelters to search for food and relief supplies. One country sent tanks. One country didn’t. Russia is winning. No, Ukraine is winning. Reports coming out of Ukraine are muddled. Different narratives spotlight different elements of the war. Yet the ones who feel forgotten are the Ukrainian families huddled in basements. The local churches are stepping up with aid to places where news cameras won’t go. The Holy Spirit is sending believers with the hope and help of Jesus Christ. Pray for more Christians to arise as messengers of His hope to the hopeless. Ask God to strengthen the Church as it becomes the hands and feet of Jesus, meeting physical and spiritual needs. Pray for increased opportunities for Ukrainians to discover and follow Christ.
Russia / Ukraine: nuclear power plant concerns
Ukraine is expected to attempt to retake Moscow-held Zaporizhzhia territory. The Russian-installed governor of the partly-occupied province ordered 18 settlements near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to evacuate. The UN's nuclear watchdog is concerned about the facility’s safety. Russian passport-holders were taken to cities on the coast of the Sea of Azov. The International Atomic Energy Agency expressed deepening concern after Russia fired 30+ shells at a Ukrainian-held town near the plant. The nuclear reactors are shut down, but staff and their families remain. Ask God to comfort them in this stressful situation. Meanwhile Ukraine released a video of white fire from phosphorus munitions in the besieged city of Bakhmut, accusing Russia of using incendiary weapons. International law prohibits using any incendiary weapons, and if chemical weapons are used it is a war crime.
Ukraine: Bakhmut defenders losing support
Ukraine’s call for more weapons and ammunition to bolster the defence of Bakhmut has grown louder. A year ago they fired all forty barrels of their rocket launcher in one go. Now they can only afford to fire a few at a time at Russian targets. They haven't got enough ammunition for their weapons but are still called on to provide fire support to Ukrainian forces desperately clinging on to the edges of the town, which Russia has spent months trying to capture. Russians are getting closer to their goal, but at enormous cost. On 1 May a top Ukrainian general said that over 20,000 Russian fighters have been killed in Ukraine since December. Some of the Ukrainian Grad missile supplies are coming from the Czech Republic, Romania and Pakistan. Ukraine is frustrated that it can't provide more support to their fellow fighters being killed in Bakhmut.
Ukraine: children's innocence stolen
Russians are kidnapping Ukrainian children and adopting them into Russian families where they are brainwashed. Last May, Putin simplified Russian adoption laws to enable these illegal adoptions. A majority of the children have living parents or relatives: they were illegally and forcefully separated from them when their parents were taken into 'filtration camps'. NGOs are trying to return these children to their families, and the international community calls this a war crime. The number of children who have been proven by name is 16,121, according to Orphan’s Promise. The Russian commissioner for children's rights said over 300,000 children have been taken to Russia, given Russian citizenship and adopted into Russian families - illegally. A Ukrainian human rights lawyer has said, ‘A mother and her four-year-old daughter were separated at a filtration camp. She had to give her daughter to some woman she didn't know, and we don't know what happened to her.’
Ukraine: beheading video
Ukraine’s president Zelensky has urged world leaders to act after the emergence of footage showing Russian soldiers beheading a Ukrainian prisoner of war. A second video shows the beheaded corpses of two Ukrainian soldiers next to a destroyed military vehicle. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, it has committed widespread abuses. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Putin’s alleged war crimes. Ukraine’s foreign minister tweeted, ‘A horrific video of Russian troops decapitating a Ukrainian prisoner of war is circulating online. It’s absurd that Russia, which is worse than Isis, is presiding over the UNSC’ - referring to the UN Security Council, where Russia took up the rotating presidency this month. ‘The terror group Isis released a number of videos showing beheadings when it controlled swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria. Russian terrorists must be kicked out of Ukraine and the UN and be held accountable for their crimes, and the International Criminal Court must ‘immediately investigate yet another atrocity of the Russian military.’
Putin wanted ‘total cleansing’ of Ukraine
Vladimir Putin planned ‘total cleansing’ of Ukraine with house-to-house terror to subdue its people. Chilling emails leaked from within Russia’s FSB intelligence service talk about orders ‘from the very top’ for civilians to be taken to concentration camps in a bid to conquer Ukraine. The emails were leaked to Russian human rights activist Vladimir a week after the International Criminal Court charged Putin with war crimes for alleged deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said that there have been over 16,000 forced deportations carried out by Russia. Meanwhile Russia’s push for the key Ukrainian city of Bakhmut has stalled, despite their claims in early March that the city was surrounded on three sides. Ukraine’s commander-in-chief said that the fight for Bakhmut is stabilising and his troops’ have held back Moscow’s forces. Ukraine is now signalling a counteroffensive to take back territory lost to Moscow. The Wagner mercenaries are losing considerable strength.
Russia: Wagner and FSB
Wagner is giving ‘career talks’ in Russian schools to recruit young soldiers. Wagner, Putin’s private army distributed questionnaires entitled ‘Application of a Young Warrior’ to collect pupils' details. Moscow attempted to win the Bakhmut conflict with a ‘human wave’ of battalions of convicts, followed by elite Wagner troops. Half are now dead. This initiative will not replace the convict recruit pipeline. Wagner made slow gains at an immense cost. Pray for the ‘career talks’ to fall on deaf ears as adults to protect vulnerable teenagers. Meanwhile on 16th March a short circuit appeared to have caused a fire, which ignited fuel tanks in a building used by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB). The FSB is Russia's internal security service, responsible for counterintelligence, border security and counter-terrorism. There has been a spate of arson attacks on government buildings, such as enlistment and conscription offices since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.