Sunday, June 23, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 466

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine in February 2022 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:

Several drones tried to attack Crimea: Local leader

Five drones were shot down overnight over Russia’s Crimea, and four others were intercepted by means of electronic warfare and forced to land, the region’s leader Sergey Aksyonov has stated.

One of the destroyed UAVs crashed in the city of Dzhankoy in the north of the peninsula, Aksyonov said. Windows were shattered in three homes and several cars as a result, he added.

Another unexploded unmanned aircraft was discovered on the territory of a private house, according to the Crimean leader. Some 50 people had to be evacuated from the area before the drone was deactivated, he wrote.

“There were no casualties or injuries as a result of the overnight attack. I ask everyone to remain calm and trust only reliable sources of information,” Aksyonov said.

A week ago, six UAVs were intercepted using electronic warfare, or shot down above the peninsula. In early May, at least ten drones targeted Sevastopol, but the assault was repelled by Russian forces.


Ukrainian official: At least 20 people, including children, wounded in Russian attack near Dnipro

A Russian attack left at least 20 people wounded in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region Saturday, said Serhii Lysak, the head of the region’s military administration.

Five children are among those injured, Lysak added.

Lysak stated the explosion rocked Pidhorodne — a riverfront town outside Dnipro, the region’s administrative center and one of the largest cities in Ukraine. The blast hit a two-story residential building, trapping people under the rubble, according to the regional leader.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also blamed Russian forces for hitting the buildings, saying via Telegram that people were still buried in the wreckage.

Ukrainian State Emergency Services announced two buildings caught fire after they were hit, but one of the blazes was already extinguished


Wagner chief again criticizes Russian military and says his fighters may go to Belgorod

The head of the Wagner private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed in a Telegram post Saturday that unidentified Kremlin factions “are destroying (the) Russian state” and trying to sow discord between him and Chechen leadership and its fighters.

Prigozhin said a conflict with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov arose — but has since been settled — because of the Wagner chief’s criticism toward Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

Prigozhin claimed that he criticizes the defense minister and the chief of the general staff because “they don’t do their job correctly.”

Prigozhin repeatedly berated Russian military leadership during the grinding battle in the eastern city of Bakhmut, accusing top brass of not providing enough ammunition.

“They didn’t supply us with shells, and this is the reason why so many of my people got killed,” he stated Saturday.

But Prigozhin said he never talked negatively about the Chechen leader or his “Akhmat” detachment. He also added he is not interested in “stirring up ethnic conflicts.”

Prigozhin also commented on developments in Belgorod, the region that borders Ukraine and has seen recent shelling and cross-border incursions, which he called “a clear attempt to capture that area.”

He criticized the Russian Defense Ministry over the handling of the incursions, which Moscow blames on Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have insisted that the groups going across the border are anti-Putin Russian nationals acting independently.

“The Ministry of Defense is not in a state to do anything at all as it de-facto doesn’t exist — it is in chaos,” Prigozhin stressed.

“Dangerous games have become commonplace in the Kremlin towers,” the Wagner chief continued, referring to unidentified Kremlin factions.

“They have been playing games for a while now not understanding what they are doing. They are simply destroying the Russian state today,” he added.

“If the Ministry of Defense doesn’t stop what is happening in the Belgorod region soon enough, don’t stop that chaos that is happening around capturing of Russian Federation territory, then we (Wagner units) will certainly come to the Belgorod region and we will protect our people,” Prigozhin said, adding, “we won’t wait on the invitation.”


Russia continues to suffer “significant” losses near Bakhmut: Ukraine

Russia continues to suffer “significant losses” during fighting around Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the Commander of Ukraine’s Ground Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said Saturday after visiting troops on the front line.

“The enemy continues to suffer significant losses in the Bakhmut direction,” Syrskyi said on the messaging app Telegram.

“Defense Forces (of Ukraine) continue to fight. We will win,” he added.

Syrskyi’s comments came after Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Russian private military company Wagner, said that 99% of his troops had left Bakhmut after handing over their positions to soldiers from the Russian military.

Bakhmut has been the site of one of the bloodiest battles between Russian and Ukrainian forces since the Kremlin launched its invasion last year. Prigozhin claimed victory and control of the city last month, though Ukraine says it continues to have a foothold on the southwestern edge of the city.

Reports suggest that front lines in and around the city have been largely static. In early May, while Wagner forces were pushing westward out from the center of Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces had been making limited territorial gains on higher ground to the northwest and southwest of the city.

In its daily operational update, Ukraine’s Armed Forces claimed on Saturday that Russia’s attempted offensive actions near Ivanivske, a small town around 5 miles west of Bakhmut, were unsuccessful.

Kyiv announced that Russian forces had carried out air strikes on nearby Bila Hora and Chasiv Yar, as well as a missile strike on the town of Druzhkivka, in the same part of the Donetsk region.


Growing number of attacks bring the war to Russian territory

Russian officials have reported deadly attacks in at least four locations in the Belgorod region and Ukrainian-aligned Russian units are ramping up their incursions, bringing the war to Russian territory.

At least seven people have been killed by shelling in Russian border regions since Friday, according to Belgorod’s regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov.

Two men and a woman were killed in a barrage of 18 rockets fired on the village of Sobolevka, Gladkov said in a series of posts on his Telegram channel. A gas pipeline and a power line were also damaged in the strike.

Sobolevka, which is located in the Valuisky city district, is the easternmost location to have been struck over the past two weeks. A rail line runs through the village and enters Ukraine in Russian-occupied territory south of the attack, suggesting it may have been targeting Russia’s supply lines.

To the northwest along Russia’s border with Ukraine, two women were killed in the village of Maslova Pristan when their car was hit by fire, Gladkov said. Two other women were killed in separate shellings on nearby villages.

Two units responsible for recent assaults on the border regions – Freedom for Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps – are made up of Russian soldiers opposed to President Vladimir Putin. Though not officially part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, they effectively fall under the command of Ukraine’s security forces.

While the cross-border attacks have a military impact, forcing Russia to consider redeploying resources to protect what have been shown to be weak borders, they also appear designed to have an impact on Russian morale.

Legion spokesperson Alexei Baranovksiy appeared on Ukrainian television Saturday and was asked about the aims of the incursions.

It was not about trying to “die heroically,” he stated.

“This is a task to distract the Russian army from other directions; it is a task to gain combat experience, to show Russia that resistance (against Putin) is possible, and it is necessary to join it,” Baranovskiy added.


Kremlin says France can hardly be a ‘moderator’ in Ukraine conflict

France can hardly be a “moderator” in the Ukrainian conflict due to its active participation in it, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Peskov told Russian state television reporter Pavel Zarubin that, at the same time, President Vladimir Putin is open to any contacts in order to achieve Russia’s goals.


Kiev dismisses Indonesia’s ‘strange’ Ukraine peace plan

Ukraine’s defense minister has rejected a peace plan proposed by his Indonesian counterpart to end the war between Kiev and Moscow.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, who was attending the two-day Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore, dismissed the proposal suggested by Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, describing the peace plan as a “strange” and “Russian plan”.

“It sounds like a Russian plan, not an Indonesian plan,” Reznikov stated, adding, “We don’t need this mediator coming to us (with) this strange plan.”

The Indonesian defense minister had suggested an “immediate cessation of hostilities,” a ceasefire “at present positions,” and demilitarized zones that would be guaranteed by peace observers from the United Nations peacekeeping forces.

The former army ex-special forces general also proposed holding a “referendum in the disputed areas” under the auspices of the UN.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo traveled to Kiev and Moscow and met the countries’ leaders last year, while his country chaired the G20 bloc of major world economies.

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