As the war in Ukraine spills into the fourth week, here are five reports on the Russian invasion that shine a light on the strategies, failures and ground conditions in the war-torn country.
1. Protecting Odessa: The Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater in Ukraine is currently one of the most fortified heritage buildings in the country, as per a report in Washington Post. It said that the landmark theatre, which represents the port city’s rich history, is “a symbol of Odessa’s rich history, dating to when it was the crown jewel of Imperial Russia.” Earlier this week, Russian forces had shelled the Drama Theater in Mariupol, causing extensive damage to the building which housed hundreds of displaced Ukrainians. This has heightened fears that the Odessa theatre could be the next target, says the report.
A soldier stands guard over the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater, as #Ukrainians place sandbags and anti-tank barriers to protect historic landmarks in expectation of a Russian assault on the strategic Black Sea port city of #Odessa, Ukraine 📸: @peterson__scott #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/t9kqBzcm7p
— Getty Images News (@GettyImagesNews) March 15, 2022
2. Behind the death of Russian generals: In the four weeks since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, four Russian generals have been killed so far. A report in The Wall Street Journal argued that the death of the highly-trained veterans who have participated in Russia’s earlier wars in Georgia, Syria and Ukraine points to larger flaws in the Russian military’s battle strategies. Though Kremlin has not confirmed the deaths that the Ukraine military announced, the loss of the senior leaders has been reported in Russian media. Speaking to the WSJ, a military analyst attributed the high number of casualties in such senior positions to subpar radio communications, ambushes by the Ukrainian military and an unsatisfactory level of small-unit leadership which results in the presence of high-ranking general officers in much more forward positions in the Russian army.
Four Russian Major Generals have been killed in Ukraine so far:
•Andrey Sukhovetsky, killed February 28th
•Vitaly Gerasimov, killed March 7th
•Andrei Kolesnikov, killed March 11th
•Oleg Mityaev, killed March 14thhttps://t.co/eykwJOv0PY pic.twitter.com/PIttqlSMX5
— Alfons López Tena (@alfonslopeztena) March 17, 2022
3. Companies still in Russia: As sanctions kicked in, several world brands have exited Russia, at least temporarily, as a mark of protest against the invasion. However, there are a few familiar names that have chosen to plough on. In a speech earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called out food companies Nestle and Mondelez, consumer goods makers Unilever and Johnson & Johnson, European banks Raiffeisen and Societe General, electronics giants Samsung and LG, chemicals maker BASF, and pharmaceuticals Bayer and Sanofi, for not leaving the Russian market. Koch Industries, whose billionaire CEO Charles Koch is famous for funding conservative causes, dug into that position, saying Wednesday that it has two glass manufacturing factories in Russia that employ 600 people, and it’s not going to abandon that business.
Koch Industries shamefully continues to do business in Putin’s Russia—putting profits ahead of defending democracy
It must stop@SenateDems, @RonWyden, & I are exploring legislation to add Russia to existing laws denying foreign tax credits for taxes paid to North Korea & Syria
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 17, 2022
4. Brittney Griner’s detention extended: Russian media reported that the detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner was extended until May 19, a development that could see the two-time Olympic champion being held for at least three months before her case is resolved. The case of the 31-year-old Griner, one of the most recognisable players in women’s basketball, comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Griner was detained after arriving at a Moscow airport, reportedly in mid-February, after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges allegedly containing oil derived from cannabis, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
5. Putin and botox: Russian premier Putin may no longer be in a position to continue his use of Botox, as per a report in the British newspaper Independent. This comes after drugmaker Abbvie Inc, which owns Botox, announced that they are temporarily suspending operations for all aesthetic products in Russia due to the Ukraine invasion. Botox is usually used as a facial injection in small doses to relax the muscles and prevent lines and wrinkles. In the past decade, several media houses, including The Guardian and The Daily Beast, had reported on the world leader’s alleged use of the cosmetic product.