Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 340

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine on February 24 after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

Ukraine’s military and Russia’s Wagner private military group both claim control of Blahodatne

Ukraine’s military and Russia’s Wagner private military group are both claiming to have control in the area of Blahodatne in the eastern part of the Donetsk region.

“Units of Ukraine’s Defence Forces repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of … Blahodatne … in the Donetsk region,” Ukraine’s armed forces announced in its daily morning report, adding its forces also repelled attacks in 13 other settlements in the Donetsk region.

The Wagner Group, designated by the US as transnational criminal organisation, said on the Telegram messaging app on Saturday that its units had taken control of Blahodatne.

US military officials ‘urging Pentagon to send F-16s to Ukraine’

US military officials are reportedly urging the Pentagon to supply F-16 jets to Ukraine so the country is better able to defend itself from Russian missiles and drones.

A senior US Defense Department official told Politico, “I don’t think we are opposed.”

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the publication that no final decision had been made.

It comes just weeks after the US committed to sending a $2bn package of weapons to Ukraine, including the the Patriot missile system.

Ukraine imposes sanctions against 182 Russian and Belarusian companies

Ukraine has imposed sanctions against 182 Russian and Belarusian companies, and three individuals, in the latest of a series of steps by president Volodymyr Zelensky to block Moscow’s and Minsk’s connections to his country.

“Their assets in Ukraine are blocked, their properties will be used for our defence,” Zelenskiy said in a video address.

The sanctioned companies chiefly engage in the transportation of goods, vehicle leasing and chemical production, according to the list published by the Ukraine’s national security and defence council.

The list includes the Russian potash fertiliser producer and exporter Uralkali, Belarus state-owned potash producer Belaruskali, Belarusian Railways, as well as Russia’s VTB-Leasing and Gazprombank Leasing, both dealing with transport leasing.

Ukraine has sanctioned hundreds of Russian and Belarusian individuals and firms since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Ukraine official says ‘fast-track’ talks under way for missiles, planes

Ukraine and its Western allies are engaged in “fast-track” talks on the possibility Kyiv receiving more long-range missiles and military aircraft, a top Ukrainian presidential aide has said.

On an online video channel, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, stated Ukraine’s supporters in the West “understand how the war is developing” and the need to supply aeroplanes capable of providing cover for the armoured fighting vehicles.

That comes after the US and Germany pledged at the beginning of the month to send the long-sought combat vehicles.

Podolyak added that some of Ukraine’s Western partners maintain a “conservative” attitude to arms deliveries, “due to fear of changes in the international architecture.”

Zelensky: ‘Neutral flag of Russian athletes is stained by blood’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has once again called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headed by Thomas Bach not to allow Russian athletes to compete at Summer and Winter Games.

“It is obvious that any neutral flag of Russian athletes is stained by blood,” said the president on social media.

The statement came after the IOC leadership announced its intention to open up opportunities for athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate under a neutral flag.

US Treasury official to warn against sanctions evasion on Middle East trip

The US Department of the Treasury’s top sanctions official will warn countries next week that they could lose access to G7 markets if they do business with entities subject to Washington’s sanctions.

Treasury official Brian Nelson will travel to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey the week of January 29 and meet with government officials, as well as businesses and financial institutions, according to a statement.

“Individuals and institutions operating in permissive jurisdictions risk potentially losing access to G7 markets on account of doing business with sanctioned entities,” the Treasury announced.

Russia deliberately misrepresenting casualty numbers: UK intelligence

British intelligence has announced Russia is deliberately misrepresenting the number of its casualties in its invasion of Ukraine.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Defence in London pointed to an attack on a Russian military shelter in the Donetsk region on New Year’s Eve.

Russia reported the deaths of 89 soldiers. British intelligence reports, however, say it is highly likely that there were more than 300 victims.

UK officials added that illustrates the “pervasive presence of disinformation in Russian public announcements”.

Moscow says 14 killed in Ukraine attack on Luhansk hospital

Russia’s defence ministry has accused Ukrainian forces of attacking a hospital in the eastern Luhansk region, leaving 14 dead and injuring 24 others.

The ministry said in a statement that on Saturday morning in the town of Novoaidar, “the Ukrainian armed forces deliberately attacked the building of a district hospital” with a US-made HIMARS multiple-launch rocket system.

The ministry added that 14 were killed and 24 wounded among the “hospital patients and medical staff”.

There was no immediate response to the allegations from Ukraine.

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