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A detailed report on Ukraine's blood, sweat, and tears

Russia’s attack on Ukraine could last another week.

KYIV, Ukraine –In Kyiv, the night passed peacefully, shops and pharmacies opened in the morning, and transport was functioning.

At the moment the situation is tough. The fighting continues along the northern, eastern, and southern borders of Ukraine while Russian troops are anxious to grab important cities like Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Mykolaiv. After the failed blitzkrieg, Russians have been forced to change their plans and are now trying to encircle these cities to establish a siege.

Ukrainians are determined to defend their motherland like crazy until their last breath. It is also the very reason Putin hasn’t been able to take Kyiv in 12 hours as he anticipated.

According to some Ukrainian military analysts, Russian attacks may last one more week. As explained, the reason is the petering out of fuel, ammunition, food, etc. So, the peace negotiation has already started (although the first round was absolutely fruitless). But as the goal of Russian troops will not be achieved in a couple of days, there certainly will be a second meeting, and its outcome will be more positive.

Under the severe Western sanctions the Russian economy will collapse in a couple of months.

There are reports that the 60 kilometers (30 miles) long column of the Russian tanks, armored vehicles, and fuel tankers is about only 20 kilometers (10 miles) from Kyiv. They are not moving supposedly because of a blown bridge.

On March 1, the Kiev TV tower was hit by a missile. Five civilian passersby were killed.

Russians have taken the port and railway station in Kherson. Kherson port is one of the major Ukrainian seaports on the Black sea. Five Ukrainian and 12 foreign cargo vessels are blocked in the port. Also 17 foreign cargo vessels are blocked in nearby Mykolaiv port (still under Ukrainian control).

The Toll of War

According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), from February 24 to March 2, the losses of the Russian army were approximately:

  • personnel/troops - more than 5,840
  • destroyed and damaged aircraft - 30
  • helicopters - 31
  • tanks - up to 211
  • armored combat vehicles - 862
  • artillery systems - 85
  • means of air defense - 9
  • multiple rocket launchers - 40
  • tankers with fuels and lubricants - 60
  • unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) of operational and tactical level - 3
  • ships - 2
  • automotive equipment - 355

The head of the Sumy regional state administration said that Bayraktar (medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicle capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations) on March 1, destroyed two columns of the Russian military equipment, namely, a parking lot of about 80 units (half of them a Soviet truck-mounted 122-mm multiple rocket launcher “Grad”) near the village of Pustovoitovka, Romensky district. At the same time, about 100 units of Russian equipment, mostly tanks and armored personnel carriers, were destroyed near the village of Bishkin.

At night, in the Kiev region, Ukrainian air defense shot down two Russian fighters Su-35s. One Ukrainian fighter MiG-29 was also shut down.

Death Toll Mounts

The hospitals in Mazyr city, Belarus (which is the accomplice of Russia), are overflowing with wounded and dead Russian troops.

The Russian army is afraid of direct contact with Ukrainian defenders. Therefore, they turned to the criminal tactics of long-range shelling of peaceful cities, says Minister of Defense Mr. Reznikov. He also noted that strikes on residential buildings, schools, and maternity hospitals are “cowardly behavior of those who have no honor.”

Ukraine’s Survival Tactics

The Ukrainian army obtained a new batch of UAV from Turkey.

The Hungarian airline Wizz Air will give away 100,000 tickets free of charge to Ukrainian refugees currently in European countries. According to the low-cost carrier, tickets for Ukrainian citizens will be issued for short flights departing from Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania.

Though authorities have allowed law enforcement to shoot marauders on the spot in the cities of Ukraine, looters are dealt with by tying them to poles with cling film. This may seem more humane than shooting them, but the temperature in Ukraine is at freezing, so this punishment may be really severe.

In Kyiv, the group of marauders tried to plunder the International airport “Kyiv” using five stolen minibuses. They were caught on the spot killing one.

The hungry Russian troops are looting food from grocery stores and even from civilians. Ukrainian mobile operators turned off roaming for Russian phones, so Russians began robbing civilians of their phones to make calls to Russia.

Three villages near the outskirts of Kyiv flooded their meadows. When villagers saw that there was a threat, and there were a lot of suspicious cars and unknown people marking these meadows, they decided to flood the meadows. Now, if Russians try to land there, they will be stalled, because the meadows have become impassable.

In order to cut off Ukrainian army from the fuel supply, Russians bombed two oil depots near Kyiv. The workers of one of the oil depots managed to save some fuel in tankers.

The village of Ivankiv, in the Kyiv region, has been under occupation for six days. All exits have been blocked by Russian troops. Civilians are trapped and on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. The occupants killed the priest of the Orthodox church of Ukraine. The Russian occupants, without warning, opened fire on a peaceful car. The body still can’t be taken away because of the danger.

On March 1, near the village of Borodyanka, Ukrainian troops destroyed a column of Russian military equipment. The cars, in particular, were carrying ammunition for large-caliber weapons and food looted from Ukrainian grocery stores.

Impact on agriculture

There is no information about the scale of the damage done to the agribusiness. There are only scattered reports about problems.

For example, one dairy processing plant in Kharkiv has closed not because of some blast damage but because personnel, who were mostly of inhabitants of nearby villages, were unavailable. Plant managers had to give raw milk and the processed dairy with the short shelf-life away for free.

Another report said there is a horse farm that has no feed left, and animals are starving.

Thus, animal husbandry is maybe the most affected agricultural sector. Some animal farms already are on the occupied territories and may be cut off from processors. Some processors may be cut off from producers. Some producers are cut off from consumers, etc.

There are also logistical problems in some areas because of damaged roads and destroyed bridges. The situation, at least in the zones of hostilities, is dire.

The more intriguing situation is with crop production.

Of the total grain crop of 107 million tons harvested in 2021, Ukraine has exported about 40 million tons before the Russian invasion. By the previous forecasts, Ukraine planned to export 45 million tons of grains in 2021/2022 marketing year. At the moment, all Ukrainian ports are closed. In Kherson port, five Ukrainian and 12 foreign vessels are blocked. In Mykolaiv port, there are 17 blocked foreign vessels.

This means that about 5 million tons of grain stalled somewhere with no likely prospect to be exported. And ports certainly will not open until the war is over. One trading company claimed that it will destroy its port terminal in Odessa in case Russia has occupied South Ukraine.

There is also one more factor to consider: What condition will the port infrastructure be in when the war ends.

On March 1, Russian troops took the railway station and port in Kherson, which is one of the four major Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea. (The others are Mykolaiv, Odessa, and Illichivsk.)

Before the Russian invasion, Ukrainian agricultural producers planned to get up to 120 million tons of grains and oilseeds. Now this figure looks highly dubious. Even if Russia will have taken Ukrainian sea ports, they still will not be operational because there certainly will be an international embargo on shipments from these ports.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine introduced a lot of uncertainties to everything. The agricultural production under the state of war will depend on a number of factors:

●    How long will the war last?

●    What areas and regions will fall under Russian control?

●    Will there be enough supply of inputs, e.g. fuel, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.?

●    What will infrastructure conditions be in, e.g. roads, railways, river terminals, storage facilities etc.?

●    Will credits be available for producers?

●    Will Ukrainian ports that are now shut start operating, and if yes, when?

●    Will there be enough labor force?

Enough supplies, food?

One must note that Russians are trying to destroy the supply of petrol, kerosene, and diesel to damage the Ukrainian military. Also, keep in mind that most of Ukraine’s crude oil is from Russia.

Thus, everyone involved in the agribusiness is under great uncertainty.

One may only hope that not all Ukraine territory will fall under the Russian occupation, so there will be regions sufficiently safe to continue agricultural production. One may definitely argue that Western Ukraine and maybe big parts of Central and possibly Southern Ukraine will not be occupied.

Anyway this means that at least the domestic demand will be satisfied.

If there will be some commodities to export and Ukrainian sea ports still will be closed, there is an option for export/import via Romania and Poland. Though this option will be significantly more costly and time-consuming.

With Russian troops trying to surround big cities and cut them off from a food supply, a question arises: Will there be enough food available for city dwellers? At the moment, authorities claim that there is enough food for city dwellers at least with the basic assortment like bread, pasta, vegetable oils.

Authorities also claim that there is enough medication in hospitals and pharmacies. However, there are long lines of people trying to buy essential drugs and dressings.

There are reports that some 350,000 people are cut off from electricity without further details. This may well include a lot of people in rural areas.

The latest news from Kyiv

There is a ban on selling alcohol in Kyiv. The curfew is from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Public transportation is functioning but irregularly.

The underground subway stations are used as shelters 24/7.

Some food is now being rationed: bread, cereals, sugar, pasta, and vegetable oils are sold in quantities no more than two items of each per person.

Food prices are stable as authorities warned that unfounded price rise by sellers will be considered as sabotage.

The cigarettes are in short supply.

Ukrainian bookstore chains have stopped cooperating with Russia and withdrawn Russian books from sale: “No more books in the aggressor’s language!”

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Iurii Mykhailov is an agricultural journalist in Ukraine. He is a contributor to Successful Farming.

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