July 20. 2024. 11:13

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Ukraine military says Russian offensive near Yahidne unsuccessful

Ukraine’s military said on Sunday that Russia conducted unsuccessful offensives near Yahidne over the past day, after Russia’s Wagner mercenary group claimed to have captured the village in eastern Ukraine near the focus on intense fighting.

The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in a morning update that Russia keeps concentrating its offensive efforts along the entire Bakhmut front line, were Yahidne is located.

The months-long struggle for Bakhmut, where only about 5,000 of 70,000 residents remain, has seen some of the bloodiest attritional fighting of Russia’s year-old invasion.

Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday his forces had captured Yahidne. On Friday, he had claimed control of Berkhivka, an adjacent village on the outskirts of Bakhmut.

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Ukraine military says Russian offensive near Yahidne unsuccessful

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But the Ukrainian bulletin said attacks were continuing, citing “unsuccessful offensives” near six settlements, including Yahidne and Berkhivka, in the Donetsk region, which Moscow claims to have annexed.

[ EU vows to increase pressure on Moscow ‘until Ukraine is liberated’ ]

The US is sending support to Ukraine which aims to put it in a strong position against an expected Russian spring offensive, President Joe Biden told ABC News.

Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports of either side.

Ukraine’s Sunday bulletin said Russian forces had shelled the areas of 22 settlements along that part of the front line in Donetsk over the past day, while Ukraine had repelled 71 in Donetsk and elsewhere along the frontline.

The fierce battles along the front lines in Ukraine’s south and east, especially near Bakhmut, now consist of crawling attempts by each side to move the line, sometimes just a few metres at a time.

[ G20 meeting in India ends without consensus on Ukraine war ]

Russia has made progress towards encircling Bakhmut but failed to capture it in time to deliver a victory for Russian president Vladimir Putin to announce on Friday’s anniversary of his invasion.

Meanwhile, Mr Putin cast the confrontation with the West over the Ukraine war as an existential battle for the survival of Russia and the Russian people – and said he was forced to take into account Nato’s nuclear capabilities.

A year since ordering the invasion of Ukraine, Mr Putin is increasingly presenting the war as a make-or-break moment in Russian history – and saying that he believes the future of Russia and its people is in peril.

Ukrainian former professional boxer Wladimir Klitschko is to become one of the first drivers of the newly delivered German Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine.

“They have one goal: to disband the former Soviet Union and its fundamental part – the Russian Federation,” Putin told Rossiya 1 state television in an interview recorded on Wednesday but released on Sunday.

Nato and the West dismiss such a narrative, saying their objective is to help Ukraine defend itself against an unprovoked attack.

Mr Putin said the West wanted to divide up Russia and then control the world’s biggest producer of raw materials, a step, he said, that could well lead to the destruction of many of the peoples of Russia including the ethnic Russian majority.

“I do not even know if such an ethnic group as the Russian people will be able to survive in the form in which it exists today,” Mr Putin said. He said the West’s plans had been put to paper, though did not specify where.

The United States has denied that it wants to destroy Russia, while US president Joe Biden has warned that a conflict between Russia and Nato could trigger a third World War, though he has also said Mr Putin should not remain in power.

Mr Putin said the tens of billions of dollars’ worth of US and European military assistance to Ukraine showed that Russia was now facing off Nato itself – the Cold War nightmare of Soviet and western leaders.

Ukraine says it will not rest until every last Russian soldier is ejected from Ukraine, including from Crimea which Russia annexed in 2014.

Mr Putin’s existential framing of the war allows the 70-year-old Kremlin chief to gird the Russian people for a much more deeper conflict while it also allows him much greater freedom in the types of weapons he could one day use.

Russia’s official nuclear doctrine allows for the use of nuclear weapons if they – or other types of weapons of mass destruction – are used against it, or if conventional weapons are used, which endanger “the existence of the state.”

Mr Putin has signalled he is ready to rip up the architecture of nuclear arms control – including the big powers’ moratorium on nuclear testing – unless the West backs off in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, he sought to underscore Russian resolve in Ukraine by suspending a landmark nuclear arms control treaty, announcing new strategic systems had been put on combat duty and warning that Moscow could resume nuclear tests.

Mr Putin said Russia would only resume discussion once French and British nuclear weapons were also taken into account.

Russia, which inherited the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons, has the world’s biggest store of nuclear warheads. It has more warheads than the United States, France and Britain combined, says the Federation of American Scientists.

“In today’s conditions, when all the leading Nato countries have declared their main goal as inflicting a strategic defeat on us, so that our people suffer as they say, how can we ignore their nuclear capabilities in these conditions?” Mr Putin said.

Mr Putin said the biggest result of the past year was the unity of the Russian people. – Reuters