Putin’s War: The Daily Ukraine Brief --- February 27th - 24hr to 3pm
Click here for a high-resolution map.
*Disclaimer: This map and the information below is informed by reliable and verified open sources, it is meant to convey the general disposition of Russian troops in Ukraine and should not be considered confirmed nor comprehensive. Importantly, do not use this map to plan evacuation routes through Ukraine.
Events of interest:
1. Yesterday, following a relatively strong push by Russian forces, Kyiv authorities announced that the city was entering a primarily defensive phase. Because of this, last night Ukrainian troops were stationed in defensive positions throughout the city, ready to repel an expected pre-dawn offensive by Russian forces. This offensive never came and there was only scattered fighting in the capital between Russian special forces soldiers or saboteurs who were present in the city and troops defending Kyiv. Following this, Ukrainian troops around the capital sought to expand their defensive line and pushed out into Kyiv’s outer suburbs. The satellite town of Irpin (roughly 10km from Kyiv’s outskirts) was reportedly recaptured by Ukrainian troops. Throughout the day destroyed and captured Russian armour has been filmed in this area, including a shockingly large column of Russian airborne troops that was destroyed in Bucha. Russian forces have also moved around the capital, sending mechanised troops South towards Bilohorodka and expanding their control around Kyiv. On the East of the city, Russian columns approached closer to Kyiv, but these movements will be detailed more in point 5.
2. Although an anticipated offensive on Kyiv did not materialise this morning, instead Russian troops conducted a major assault on the border city of Kharkiv. Russian forces were able to push from the NW axis of the city, advancing from the satellite town of Derhachi to the Shevchenskivskyi neighbourhood on the North-Western outskirts of Kharkiv. This offensive was repelled by Ukrainian troops once it reached high-density urban areas. By mid-morning, the city was mostly calm. One small, lightly armoured unit of Russian troops and vehicles pushed much further into Kharkiv (likely by mistake) and were attacked by Ukrainian forces in a neighbourhood near the airport. The vehicles were destroyed and the soldiers retreated on foot before being captured.
Russian forces have also sought to further isolate the city by advancing from the East, although these units have not yet reached the city from the East, they have reached the town of Chuhuiv, roughly 20km from the outskirts of Kharkiv. Previously along this axis, Ukrainian troops had destroyed a large reservoir in an attempt to slow Russian advances, however, they have since advanced past this obstacle.
During the offensive in Kharkiv this morning, Russian troops heavily relied on the use of unguided, cluster munitions against Ukrainian positions and urban areas. See this excellent article by Bellingcat. This potentially signals a shift in tactic from the Russian military, which has previously been relatively restrained in attacking civilian areas. Some have suggested that this is an effect of the Russian military largely being unable to capture any urban areas across Ukraine and a broader shift that we could see across Ukraine.
3. In Southern Ukraine, Russian forces were able to advance across the Dnipro river near Kherson city (see point 6) either overnight or in the early morning. This column reached the city of Mykolaiv. It clashed with Ukrainian units on the outskirts of town, with armour losses from both sides. Eventually, the attack was repelled. The single bridge crossing the Dnipro in the area is heavily contested and it is unclear whether this column continued North towards Nova Odessa (some unconfirmed reports have said this), if they returned to the Southern bank of the Dnipro river, or if they took refuge near Kherson (see point 6).
4. Russian forces also attacked near the city of Mariupol. Some reliable sources have claimed that the city is surrounded and isolated by Russian troops that have broken out of the Occupied Donbas, and troops from Crimea who rapidly advanced East along the Sea of Azov’s coast yesterday. This has not been visually confirmed, and no footage of clashes near Mariupol is available (just videos of rocket attacks - see point 2). There is certainly increased pressure on Ukrainian troops in that area, however, and a major breakout of Russian units from the Occupied Donbas could place Mariupol in a difficult position, without clear routes of resupply. Russian forces have captured the town of Berdyansk, roughly 65km West of Mariupol.
5. Russian armoured columns have advanced significant distances around the North of Ukraine, especially from Sumy and the Chernihiv region. These columns do not appear to have met much resistance and have made little attempt to secure the area behind them. They have avoided the city of Chernihiv and the fighting in Sumy city has been inconclusive. These armoured columns are likely looking to capture territory on the Eastern side of Kyiv to contribute to the surrounding of the city, with a town like Boryspil being a feasible goal. Currently they have been reported as far South as Kozelets, 50km North-East of Kyiv and 60km from Boryispil. There were unconfirmed and likely false reports of an airborne assault on Boryispil International Airport, this morning.
6. Near the city of Kherson, a large column of Russian support vehicles was destroyed at the Kherson Airport this morning by a Turkish Bayraktar UAV. This confirms that these drones are still operating over the skies of Southern Ukraine, and that Russian fire has not been able to destroy them. Bayraktar’s proved instrumental in Azerbijan’s recent invasion and occupation of disputed territory