Russia cannot take control of Ukraine's skies

Russia’s armed forces cannot establish control over Ukraine’s skies.

It is in control of most of its airspace, the British Defense Ministry said today, adding that Russia had failed to effectively destroy the country’s air force or stop Ukraine’s air defenses, Reuters reported.

According to the ministry, Russia has very limited air access to northern and western Ukraine, and Russian military activities are mainly focused on southern and eastern Ukraine to provide support for Russian ground forces.

Russia continues to target Ukrainian military sites and logistics infrastructure across the country, according to British military intelligence. It also claims that most Russian airstrikes on Mariupol may have used gravitational bombs that are not precisely aimed, which reduces Russia’s ability to differentiate between strikes and increases the risk of civilian casualties.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s goals were much bigger than the war in Ukraine, the DPA reported. “The ultimate goal of the Russian leadership is not only to take over the territory of Ukraine but to dismember the whole of Central and Eastern Europe and strike a global blow at democracy,” Zelensky said in his traditional evening video address, published late last night in the Telegram. In the free world, virtually everyone understood that the invasion of Ukraine was just the beginning, the Ukrainian president added.

The Russian army relies on mercenaries from Syria and Libya

Between 10,000 and 20,000 mercenaries from the private military company Wagner, Syrian and Libyan fighters are fighting on Russia’s side in Ukraine, a European official was quoted as saying by AFP.

They “do not have vehicles or heavy weapons” and are coming to reinforce Russian troops, the European representative, who requested anonymity, told the media in Washington. He clarified that “transfers from areas such as Syria and Libya to the eastern region of Donbas” were found, where Moscow started a new phase of its attack. However, it is difficult to determine how many of these 10,000 to 20,000 fighters are Wagner mercenaries and how many are fighters from Syria or Libya.

In late March, the British Ministry of Defense announced that “more than 100 mercenaries” from Wagner were expected to be stationed in eastern Ukraine “to conduct combat operations.” Wagner is considered close to the Russian authorities. Its members are suspected of atrocities in Mali, Libya, and Syria.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had launched a major offensive in the region on Monday, a new strategic target for Russian forces following their withdrawal from the Kyiv region. Part of the territory has been under pro-Russian separatist control since 2014.

By 4 to 6 months, Russian forces are likely to control Luhansk Oblast, part of Donbas, and a small strip of land leading to Zaporizhia Oblast, the European envoy said. He added that he expected “complete destruction” of the besieged city of Mariupol and expressed concern that “this will be even worse than Bucha”. The European representative also said he expects talks between Russia and Ukraine to be completed by the autumn of this year.

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