Russia steps up attacks in southern and eastern Ukraine – Eurasia Review
Ukraine reported heavy Russian missile and rocket strikes in the east and south on Saturday. A missile strike on the northeastern city of Kharkiv injured three civilians, its governor said, although Russia’s main attacks appear to be focused on the eastern industrial region of Donbass.
Ukrainian officials reported strikes in Luhansk and Donetsk, while Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Moscow was pulling reserve forces from across Russia and bringing them near Ukraine.
The operational pause announced by Russia a few days ago has not materialized, according to Ukrainian officials in Donbass.
Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told the Telegram messaging service that a Russian missile hit Druzhkivka, a town behind the front line, and reported shelling in other population centers.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Telegram that Russian forces were “firing along the entire front line”, although a subsequent Ukrainian counterattack that hit arms and ammunition stores forced Moscow to stop his offensive.
Russia, which claimed control of the entire Lugansk province last weekend, denies targeting civilians.
To the south, the BBC reported, Ukrainian forces were fiercely defending Mykolaiv, a strategic river port on a key route to Odessa, which is Ukraine’s main export hub. The Russian Navy is still preventing Ukraine from shipping grain from Odessa.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has urged residents to leave the Russian-occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south. The warning seemed to announce new Ukrainian counterattacks.
Russia is unlikely to withdraw from a strip of land on Ukraine’s southern coast and defeat Ukrainian forces in the entire eastern region of Donbass, Russia’s ambassador to Britain told Reuters on Saturday. .
When asked how the conflict might end, Russian Ambassador Andrei Kelin said it was difficult to see Russian and Russian-backed forces withdrawing from southern Ukraine and that Ukrainian soldiers would be pushed back from all over Donbass.
“We are going to liberate all of Donbass,” Kelin told Reuters in an interview at his London residence. “Of course, it is difficult to predict the withdrawal of our forces from the southern part of Ukraine because we have already experienced that after the withdrawal the provocations start, and everyone gets shot and all that.”
The Ukrainian government did not immediately comment on the Russian ambassador’s remarks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Ukraine will never accept Russian occupation of its territory and will continue to fight until the last Russian soldier is expelled from Ukraine.
Earlier Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he discussed Russian aggression in Ukraine during more than five hours of talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during which he shared of his concerns about Beijing’s alignment with Moscow.
The meeting came as officials attended a meeting of G-20 foreign ministers on the Indonesian island of Bali.
“I again shared with the State Councilor that we are concerned about the alignment of the PRC with Russia,” Blinken said at a press conference after the talks, referring to the People’s Republic of China. The senior US diplomat said he did not believe China was behaving neutrally, as it had supported Russia at the United Nations and “amplified Russian propaganda”.
Blinken said Chinese President Xi Jinping made it clear during a call with President Vladimir Putin on June 13 that he stood by his decision to form a partnership with Russia.
US officials have warned of the consequences, including sanctions, if China offers material support for the war that Moscow calls a “special military operation” to downgrade Ukraine’s military. Kyiv and its Western allies say the invasion is an unprovoked land grab.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian soldiers are in Britain receiving training in the frontline skills needed to fight the Russian forces that have invaded Ukraine. Around 1,000 Ukrainians in Britain, the first of around 10,000 expected to take part in the scheme drawn up by the British military.
“Using the world-class expertise of the British military, we will help Ukraine rebuild their forces and step up their resistance as they defend their country’s sovereignty and their right to choose their own future,” he said. said British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who met some of the Ukrainian troops.
New weapon pack
On Friday, US officials unveiled a new $400 million military package for Ukraine, including four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and 1,000 rounds of “precision-capable” artillery ammunition. of 155 mm, a type which has not been supplied to Kyiv so far.
In addition to new HIMARS and precision artillery shells, the new US security package also includes more ammunition for the eight HIMARS already in Ukraine, tactical vehicles, demolition munitions, counter-battery systems and spare parts to help Ukrainian forces maintain systems that become heavy duty.
“These [weapons systems] are accurate,” a senior US defense official said, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity under rules set by the Pentagon. “We expect them to be put to good use by Ukrainians given their success so far.”
Zelenskyy thanked the Biden administration on Twitter for the military equipment, which he called priority needs.
“It gives Ukraine precise targeting, precise capability for specific targets. It will save ammunition. It will be more effective through precision,” the US official said. our support for Ukraine in this battle in the Donbass.”
US officials were quick to praise Ukrainian forces for the way they incorporated a previous shipment of eight HIMARS in their efforts to slow the Russian advance into Donbass.
VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this story.