Day 728 of the resistance: 470,000 Russians are fighting on the occupied territory of Ukraine

The Defence Intelligence of Ukraine reported on changes in enemy forces over two years of the full-scale war, Ukraine is about to receive F-16, the EU approved the 13th package of sanctions against Russia – media.

The Defence Intelligence of Ukraine reported on changes in enemy forces over two years of the full-scale war

Today, the ground part of the enemy grouping deployed in Ukraine is about 470,000 servicemen, and the group of troops covering the state border in the Belgorod, Kursk and Bryansk regions of the Russian Federation has also been reinforced before the “elections”.  

This was reported by the Deputy Chief of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, Major General Vadym Skibitskyi in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.

“What has changed over this time is the size of the troops deployed on our territory. Currently, the ground component, the ground part of the troops deployed in Ukraine, is about 470,000 servicemen. And this is only the ground component, I don’t include aviation, we don’t count the navy, which is also involved in conducting operations, in carrying out strikes,” Skibitskyi said.

The Major General also noted that a new component has emerged, which was not present at the beginning of the aggression (it was represented only partially, by battalions) – the Russian Guard groupings.

“Today, a grouping of the Russian Guard troops has been deployed in the temporarily occupied territories. These are almost 33,000 servicemen. These are the people who ensure the activity of the occupation authorities, protect strategic objects and, if necessary, can perform defense tasks in the temporarily occupied territories,” said Skibitskyi.

According to him, another change that has taken place over the past two years is the appearance of the so-called border-covering groupings. They are deployed in three Russian regions that directly border Ukraine: Belgorod, Kursk, and Bryansk. The Major General emphasized that this is related to the Russians’ fear that “we will be more active, we will carry out retaliatory actions on the territory of the Russian Federation.”

“Perhaps, it is necessary: to shift the war to Russia’s territory. There they amassed grouping of about 30,000 servicemen. Recently, they have also been reinforced by units of the relocated 116th brigade of the Russian Guards. Three battalions were relocated from our Mariupol to the Belgorod region. As they also admit, in order to guarantee the security and the elections of the ever-living Putin. These are the changes that have mostly taken place in the number of the ground component,” added the intelligence.

Skibitskyi also emphasized that an important change over the past two years is the isolation of the Black Sea Fleet, and all the main enemy warships are in Novorossiysk.

“They can only enter Sevastopol to replenish ammunition, reload or, if necessary, when they are on combat duty. Otherwise, all the Black Sea Fleet activity is off the Crimean coast or in the eastern part of the Black Sea. Today, we have fully ensured the ability to control in terms of fire, the ability to strike at the Black Sea Fleet if it enters the northwestern part. And this allowed us to resume the operation of the sea corridor,” he emphasized.

Furthermore, over the past two years, we have liberated a lot of territories that Russia aimed at since the very beginning of the aggression, the Major General added. And most importantly, Skibitskyi noted, the strategic goal of the Russian Federation, let alone the full occupation of Ukraine, has not been achieved.

“We have totally disrupted the plans that Russia had in February 2022,” he added.

Ukraine is preparing to receive F-16s

The Air Force says that no one knows exactly when Ukraine will receive F-16 fighters, but they expect to receive them as soon as possible. In an interview to Ukrinform, the spokesman for Ukraine’s Air Force, Yuriy Ihnat, informed that “Pilots are being retrained, the infrastructure is being adapted, some temporary shelters are being made, the runways are being improved. In war time, we cannot capitally build infrastructure for F-16 fighters according to standards of NATO states, but the planes can still take off from what we have. Right now, no one knows for sure when Ukraine will have F-16s. We expect to receive them as soon as possible.

I want to emphasize that Ukraine is switching to F-16s on an emergency basis, as no other country in the world has done. And everyone expects that if the planes will come, we will magically win a victory. You understand that first a small group of pilots will arrive, they will start working in the sky, of course, Russia will react accordingly. But the process of training pilots and increasing them in Ukraine will proceed gradually.” 

The officer emphasized that Ukraine will not receive 40, 70 or 120 aircraft at once. In addition, the F-16 fighters will not be of the latest modifications. But the process is ongoing; pilots are already performing flights in the sky with instructors, Ihnat assured. And all this happens in an accelerated manner.

The EU approved the 13th package of sanctions against Russia – mass media

The permanent representatives of the EU agreed on the 13th package of sanctions against Russia, which will be finally approved before the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The European Pravda writes about this citing Rikard Jozwiak, Europe Editor for RFE/RL.

 “EU ambassadors have just given the green light to the EU’s 13th Russian sanctions package. It should published just before the 24 February anniversary.”

On 20 February, Latvian Prime Minister Evika Siliņa stated that the European Union is already preparing a new package of sanctions against Russia, which may be announced this week.

Earlier it was reported that the US is planning to announce its own new package of sanctions against Russia due to the death of head of the Russian opposition movement Alexei Navalny in prison.

The European Union also promises to impose sanctions against those involved in his death. In addition, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, announced plans to rename the sanctions scheme for human rights violations in honor of Navalny.

Balkan Geopolitics Under the Shadow of Russian Influence

In the conditions of the Russian war against Ukraine, Kyiv needs to maintain international support for its struggle for survival. One of these areas of geopolitical partnership is the Balkan countries.

At the same time, Russia’s long-standing efforts to expand its influence in the region are a problem that threatens potential cooperation with Ukraine. Establishing robust mechanisms for information sharing and cybersecurity cooperation can help Ukraine and Balkan states mitigate Russian influence in the digital realm and enhance their collective resilience against cyber threats.

By jointly advocating for and supporting each other’s Euro-Atlantic integration efforts, Ukraine and Balkan states can collectively bolster their ties with Western institutions, promoting stability and prosperity in the face of Russian influence.


  • Yehor Brailian, PhD, Analyst at the Detector Media
  • Darko Obradovic, National Security and Hybrid Warfare Expert, Center for Strategic Analysis, Serbia
  • Samir Ibisevic, Political Expert, President of PROI