Wed, 24 July 2024

Russia-Ukraine war: Day 197

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  • Ukraine has recaptured more than 700 sq km of its territory in the east and south during a lightning counteroffensive, a Ukrainian general said on Thursday, offering the first official assessment of the operation. The gains, if confirmed and held, would be a serious blow for Russia, which Western intelligence services say has suffered huge casualties. They would also represent a big boost for Kyiv, which is keen to show its Western backers that it can change the facts on the ground by force, and deserves continued support.

  • Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov told a news briefing that Ukrainian forces had advanced up to 50 kilometres (30 miles) behind Russian lines and recaptured more than 20 villages in the Kharkiv region.
  • An official representing the Russian-controlled Donetsk People’s Republic said on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces “encircled” Balakliia, an eastern town situated between Kharkiv and Russian-occupied Izium. Ukrainian forces also appeared to have reclaimed the town of Verbivka in the Kharkiv region.
  • US intelligence says Ukrainian forces are making “slow but meaningful progress” on the battlefield. “We’ll see how things pan out,” defence undersecretary Colin Kahl said. “But I certainly think things are going better on the Ukrainian side right now in the south than is true on the Russian side.” 

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets children during U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to the children’s hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine September 8, 2022. Genya Savilov/Pool via REUTERS
  • Shelling resumed near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Wednesday. Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces of firing on the city of Nikopol, across from the plant, as well as in Enerhodar, where the power plant is located. “Employees of communal and other services simply do not have time to complete emergency and restoration work, as another shelling reduces their work to zero,” the Ukrainian mayor of Enerhodar, Dmytro Orlov, said on Telegram.
  • The United Nations said there were credible accusations that Russian forces have sent Ukrainian children to Russia for adoption as part of a larger-scale forced relocation and deportation programme.
  • The body of a British aid worker who was captured by Russian proxies in April has been handed to Ukraine with “possible signs of unspeakable torture, according to the country’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba. Paul Urey, 45, from Warrington, Cheshire, was captured along with another Briton, Dylan Healey. The two men were charged with “mercenary activities” by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, but in July the Russian proxy authorities announced that Urey had died as a result of “illness and stress”. Kuleba said Urey’s body had been returned, showing possible signs of torture.
  • Vladimir Putin has threatened to tear up a fragile Ukraine grain deal allowing exports from the Black Sea. During a bellicose speech at an economic conference in Vladivostok, Putin said he would speak with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, about “limiting the destinations for grain exports”, claiming that only two of 87 ships leaving Ukraine with grain had gone to developing countries. Data from the UN showed the claim was false by a factor of at least 10. Erdogan in turn decried what he described as Western “provocations” against Russia.
  • Putin also threatened to cut off all deliveries of gas, oil, and coal to Europe if they imposed a price cap on Russian energy imports. “Will there be any political decisions that contradict the contracts? Yes, we just won’t fulfil them. We will not supply anything at all if it contradicts our interests,” he said, according to a Reuters translation of his remarks. “We will not supply gas, oil, coal, heating oil – we will not supply anything.” Recalling a Russian fairytale, he said that Europeans could “freeze like the wolf’s tail”.
  • Putin declared that Russia had “lost nothing” in launching a war on Ukraine during a belligerent and defiant speech at the Russian Eastern Economic Forum on Wednesday. “We haven’t lost anything and we won’t lose anything,” he said, when asked about the cost of the invasion. “The main gain is the strengthening of our sovereignty.”
  • He also called Western Sanctions imposed on his country a “threat to the entire world”, adding that efforts to isolate Russia were “impossible” amid a pivot towards Asia. In his Vladivostok speech, Putin also called the Ukrainian government an “illegitimate regime”, saying it was founded after a “coup” in 2014.
  • Russian officials announced that Putin would meet his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, next week in Uzbekistan.

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