Overview

·       Ukraine launches huge wave of drone attacks across Russia

·       Kyiv targeted by biggest aerial assault in months

·       U.S. pledges another $250M in military aid to Ukraine

·       About 120 children and parents ordered to evacuate near fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region

·       Ukrainian forces push forward near Bakhmut and Robotyne

·       Only about a dozen donated Leopard 2 tanks have been damaged so far

·       Pro-Ukrainian sentiment muzzled in occupied cities, Deputy Defense Minister says

·       AFU releases extraordinary video of Ukrainian drone blowing up a Russian howitzer

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·       Zelensky addresses nation on Day of Remembrance

 Ukraine launches huge wave of drone attacks across Russia

Ukrainian drones targeted several regions across Russia overnight, from an airport near the Estonian border to the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea.

The most significant strike appears to be at the airport in Pskov. Kremlin media citing emergency services said four Il-76 transport aircraft, the workhorse of the Russian military, were damaged in the attack.

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 20, 2024
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ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 20, 2024

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Andriy Yusov, a representative of Ukrainian intelligence (HUR) however, told Kyiv Post the four aircraft had been “destroyed.”

He added: “We do not comment on the [number of drones used], but it will increase.”

Kyiv targeted by biggest aerial assault in months

Two people have been killed in what authorities have described as the “most powerful” aerial attack on Kyiv since the spring.

Ukraine said its forces had downed more than two dozen Russian cruise missiles and 15 attack drones overnight.

"Twenty-eight cruise missiles and 15 attack UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) were destroyed," the Air Force said in a statement, adding that Russian forces had deployed a total of 44 projectiles.

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Debris from the interceptions fell on the city causing casualties.

Russia claims it has destroyed four Ukrainian boats

Russia said on Tuesday its forces had destroyed 4 Ukrainian boats carrying up to 50 troops in the Black Sea.

An aircraft “destroyed 4 high-speed military boats with landing groups of Ukrainian special operations forces with a total number of up to 50 people” in the Black Sea around midnight Moscow time, Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement on Telegram.

US announces $250 million in military aid package

The US State Department on Tuesday announced a new $250 million aid package to Ukraine, including mine clearing equipment, missiles for air defense, ammunition for artillery and HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), and over three million rounds of small-arms ammunition. The funding already had been approved by the US Congress.

According to Reuters, more than $43 billion in US military aid has been provided to Ukraine since Russia'’ invasion began, and US President Joe Biden earlier this month asked Congress to approve an additional $24 billion in assistance.

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Operations – Zaporizhzhia and Donestk Regions

Footage examined on Tuesday indicates that Ukrainian forces have advanced south of Bakhmut and about five kilometers southeast of Robotyne. Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun reported that Ukrainian forces continued to secure positions in Robotyne and are demining the area.

He added that Ukrainian forces could bring more troops there and would have greater opportunities to maneuver.

Ukrainian Combat Footage Archive posted a short video of the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade’s ambush on Russian troops.

https://twitter.com/Teoyaomiquu/status/1696562849559073216

The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Bohdanivka (8 km northwest of Bakhmut) and Ozarianivka (14 km southwest of Bakhmut).

Meanwhile, a Russian milblogger claimed that Chechen Spetsnaz units and other Russian divisions have advanced to the heights near Klishchiivka.

Elsewhere, on Tuesday a Ukrainian drone attack on a gathering of occupation authority officials in the Zaporizhzhia region has struck “more than 30 traitors,” Kyiv’s security services have claimed.

A Kyiv Post source in the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), said the strike targeted a gathering of “chairmen of precinct election commissions” in the city of Kamianka-Dniprovska on Tuesday.

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“More than 30 traitors, who were guarded by the Russian military, in particular, Kadyrov people, gathered,” the source told Kyiv Post.

“During the meeting, they wanted to organize the distribution of ballots and voting booths. The SBU ‘adjusted’ the plans of the occupiers with the help of attack drones.”

Mandatory evacuation of children from the southern Zaporizhzhia region

The head of Zaporizhzhia region military administration, Yurii Malashko, announced Tuesday that local forces already have begun evacuating children from towns near the front lines in the southern part of the district.

In all, about 50 children and about 70 accompanying adults are under the evacuation order. The towns and villages in question are in the Vasylivka and Polohy areas.

“This will be a mandatory, forced evacuation,” Malashko said. “There are an average of 90 to 120 attacks per day, and these are the settlements that are constantly under fire.

“Given that our information campaign that was continuously conducted didn’t give the desired results — and due to the unconscionable negligence of parents, children suffered first of all — we decided to require a mandatory evacuation, he added.

Operations – Luhansk Region

In a post on Telegram on Wednesday morning, Commander of the Ground Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrsky, said the “situation on the Eastern Front remains difficult.”

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He added: “Our units continue to hold back the enemy’s offensive in the Kupyansk-Lymansk direction. The fiercest battles are taking place in the areas of the settlements of Raigorodka and Kovalivka, where the enemy, despite losses, is trying to break through the defenses of our troops, using assault units on armored vehicles.

“At the same time, the enemy is regrouping, introducing new units from the territory of the Russian Federation with the aim of increasing the number and fighting capacity of its troops.”

AFU posts impressive video of drone attack on Russian position

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), Valerii Zaluzhny, on Tuesday released a stunning video on Telegram of a Russian self-propelled howitzer detonated by an armed drone.

The location of the drone strike was described only as “one of the hottest areas of the front.”

Very few donated Leopard 2 tanks lost in counteroffensive

According to Forbes, Ukraine has so far lost only five of the 71 tanks donated to them from Poland and Germany. At least ten of the German-made tanks have been damaged during the summer counteroffensive, but Ukrainians are repairing them in Poland and Germany.

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Forbes further projected that it is possible that all 20 soldiers escaped their vehicles before they burned or exploded.

“You can replace a piece of metal, even if it’s expensive, but you can’t repair a human life,” Ukrainian soldier Olexandr Solonko said.

Occupying forces try to stifle pro-Ukrainian sentiment

Russian invaders have been increasingly trying to suppress patriotic expression in occupied territories through “repressive measures and special propaganda actions,” Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Hanna Maliar said Tuesday in a post on Telegram.

For the past month, Russian-installed authorities in the Zaporizhzhia region, for example, have intensified the introduction of a Russian grant program entitled “Russia: country of opportunities,” which, under the guise of supporting talented local youth, involves aggressively imposing pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian sentiments on them, Ukrinform reported.

Zelensky addresses nation on Day of Remembrance

“Today, many of us are thinking of our loved ones, relatives and friends who are now at war. Who are now risking their lives every day, every hour for the sake of Ukraine,” President Zelensky said in his daily remarks.

“Every such day is a reminder for our entire nation. For everyone who works for the state. It is a reminder of what makes up our country. Ukrainian families whose sons and daughters perished in battles. For them, for the parents of Ukrainian heroes, the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine is now a reminder of their child, of his or her feat for the sake of the country. A child whose father died at the front defending Ukraine... Loved ones who will never meet again because the war took away a life that became the life of Ukraine...

“It is a duty to be worthy of the path Ukraine is on.”

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