Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 476

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:

Zelensky says Ukraine will expel the ‘Russian evil’

President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukraine will “expel the Russian evil from our land” after six people were killed in overnight missile strikes in Odesa and the Donetsk region.

In a post on Twitter showing footage of destroyed buildings, Zelensky wrote: “Cities with ruins instead of life. Cities with flooded streets. Cities that exist only in fond memories. Cities where explosions now sound instead of children’s laughter.

“We will never forgive the pain that Russia has brought to our land. And we will expel the Russian evil from all our land, liberate every city and village of ours from the occupier and return justice to our people,” he added.

Ukraine tried to mount offensives on three fronts: Russia

The Russian Defence Ministry says Ukrainian forces unsuccessfully tried to mount offensives on the south Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk fronts in the last 24 hours.

In a statement, the ministry said Ukrainian forces had suffered heavy losses in men and equipment.

It added that its forces had also targeted Ukrainian weapons depots, reserve forces, and foreign mercenaries in overnight strikes.

Ukraine calls for stronger weapons sanctions after Russian missile bombardment

Kyiv urged stricter economic measures against Russia to restrict its supply of arsenal components, after a deadly cruise missile attack overnight in the southern city of Odesa.

Ukrainian officials said at least three people were killed in Russia’s assault on residential infrastructure, which left piles of debris in the port city.

Moscow’s military struck Odesa with Kalibr missiles, which have “at least 40 foreign components,” according to Ukraine’s presidential office.

“Sanctions need to be strengthened, in particular, against those who help a terrorist country to obtain weapons components,” Andriy Yermak stated.

Yermak did not specify which countries he was referring to, but Russia has been using Iranian-made weapons to carry out strikes.

Russia claims Ukraine shelled border regions of Kursk and Belgorod

Russia’s border regions of Kursk and Belgorod were shelled overnight by Ukrainian armed forces, Russian authorities said Wednesday.

The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said four districts were targeted overnight: the villages of Zhuravlevka and Novopetrovka and the Graivoron and Shebekino urban districts. Gladkov added no casualties were recorded.

Separately, the border settlements in the Glushkovo district of the Kursk region came under fire from Ukraine, Gov. Roman Starovoit said on his Telegram channel. The governor also gave the following details:

  • Two citizens sustained moderate shrapnel wounds as a result of an attack on the village of Glushkovo.
  • Several residential and administrative buildings, as well as cars, were damaged.
  • Part of Glushkovo and the village of Tyotkino experienced a power outage.
  • The border guards intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) intended for targeting the Glushkovo village.

Ukraine claims advances in southeastern Zaporizhzhia region

Ukrainian military officials have claimed “partial success” in attempted advances in Zaporizhzhia, as Kyiv stepped up its sweeping counteroffensive across southeastern parts of the country.

Fighting is ongoing in several areas including towards the coast of the Sea of Azov near Berdiansk, the contested village of Makarivka, as well as near the villages of Novodanylivka and Novopokrovka, according to Ukrainian military spokesperson Andriy Kovalov.

Kyiv’s officials claimed Moscow’s troops are stealing grain from Ukrainian farmers and loading into onto cargo ships in the port city of Berdiansk, to be shipped to Russian territory.

Ukrainian defense forces have advanced 200 meters to 1.4 kilometers (650 feet to 0.8 miles), and liberated about 3 square kilometers (one square mile) of territory, Kovalov said.

Kyiv has ramped up operations near the frontlines of Zaporizhzhia in recent weeks, attempting what is seen as a major military objective — breaking Russia’s land-bridge to annexed Crimea.

Meanwhile, Russia has launched a series of air strikes and shelling operations in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, and in the eastern Donetsk region. As many as 40 civilian buildings have been destroyed, according to Kovalov.

German government says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes Europe “vulnerable”

A top German government minister said Moscow’s war in Ukraine has made Europe more “vulnerable” to security threats, as Berlin announced a major overhaul of its national strategy on Wednesday.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz presented a wide-ranging paper alongside senior government officials, as they pointed to several factors detailing the government’s revised security plan at a press conference in Berlin.

Annalena Baerbock, the foreign minister, stressed that with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “Europe is also vulnerable.”

The new security elements included enhanced environmental policies, better cooperation with African countries, improved food security and an updated military program.

The war in Ukraine shifted the security landscape in Europe, with the military threat posed by Russia triggering a wave of countries on the continent to rethink their long-term priorities.

Sweden must do its part if it wants NATO approval: Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Sweden must do its part if it wants Turkey to ratify its NATO membership before a summit in July.

“Sweden has expectations. It doesn’t mean that we will comply with them,” Erdogan said in remarks released by his office.

“For us to meet these expectations, first of all, Sweden must do its part,” he added.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the military alliance last year in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While Finland joined the bloc in April, Sweden still awaits approval from Hungary and Turkey. New members require unanimous approval.

Russian attacks kill at least 3 civilians in Donetsk: Ukrainian official

Three people were killed and three others wounded in Donetsk following “morning shelling” by Russian forces early Wednesday, the eastern region’s military chief said.

In a statement on Telegram, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region military administration, said initial information indicated rocket attacks killed two and injured two others in Kramatorsk, while one person died and another was wounded in Kostiantynivka.

The attacks caused “significant damage” to dozens of homes in the two cities, Kyrylenko stated.

Rescuers were working at the impacted areas, he added.

In an earlier statement, Ukraine’s air force said Russian forces had launched six Kh-22 air-launched cruise missiles targeting Donetsk from Russia’s neighboring Rostov region.

Ukraine’s air force says it shot down 12 out of 20 Russian missiles and drones launched overnight

Russia launched cruise missiles and drones at targets across Ukraine overnight, Ukraine’s air force said Wednesday.

In a statement, the air force said 12 out of 20 missiles and drones fired by Russia were intercepted by Ukrainian air defenses.

Russia fired four Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea in the direction of Odesa, three of which were shot down, it said.

Ukrainian authorities announced earlier that at least three people were killed and 13 others were wounded in the attack on the southern port city.

Russian forces also launched six Kh-22 air-launched cruise missiles from Tu-22M3 long-range bombers targeting Donetsk from Russia’s Rostov region, according to Ukraine’s air force.

The impact of those missiles is unclear at the moment.

Russia also launched 10 attack drones on southeastern Ukraine, nine of which were shot down, the air force said.

“The Air Force, in cooperation with the air defense of the Ukrainian Defense Forces, destroyed 12 air targets during this night attack: three Kalibr cruise missiles and nine Iranian Shahed-136/131 attack drones,” the air force statement added.

Russian missile attack kills at least 3 in Odesa: Ukraine’s military

At least three people died and 13 others were wounded on Wednesday after Russia fired four cruise missiles from the Black Sea at Ukraine’s southern port city of Odesa, Ukrainian authorities said.

In a statement, Ukraine’s Operational Command South announced the strikes killed at least three people and injured seven others at a retail chain warehouse. Victims might still be trapped under the rubble there, it said.

Six other people were injured at another location in the city center, where the attack damaged a business center, an educational institution, a residential complex, restaurants and shops, the statement added.

The attack comes after 11 people were killed, including a child, in Russian missile strikes on the central city of Kryvyi Rih on Tuesday, according to Ukrainian officials.

Ukrainian military accuses Russian forces of blowing up small dams in areas Kyiv is on offensive

A Ukrainian military official has reiterated accusations that Russian forces are blowing up small dams in areas where Ukrainian troops are on the offensive.

Major Vladyslav Dudar, a representative of the Environmental Safety and Mine Action Department of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, said Russian troops had mined a large number of “hydraulic structures” in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.

“They are now blowing up small hydraulic structures in various settlements every day,” Dudar stated, adding that the results were not large-scale and affected the agricultural land of one or two villages, according to Ukraine’s Military Media Center.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian military announced Russian forces had blown up a small dam at a reservoir near the village of Novodarivka in the Zaporizhzhia region, leading to flooding on both banks of Mokri Yaly River.

Novodarivka is one of several villages in the area that the Ukrainians have claimed in recent days amid offensive operations along several points of the frontlines in southern Ukraine.

This comes after the collapse of the much larger Nova Kakhovka dam last week. Kyiv and Moscow have traded accusations over the dam’s destruction, without providing concrete proof that the other is culpable. The dam was occupied by Russia at the time of its collapse. It is not yet clear whether the dam was deliberately attacked or whether the breach was the result of structural failure.

Ukraine’s military has seen some gains in its offensive: Head of armed forces

The Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said Tuesday that the military has seen “certain gains” in its offensive and is “moving forward.”

He stated he informed the United States’ top General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the situation along the frontline in a phone call.

“Both defensive and offensive fierce fighting is ongoing in the East and South of our nation. We have certain gains, implementing our plans, moving forward,” Zaluzhnyi added.

Alliance of European countries announce new $116 million air defense package for Ukraine

A British-led defense alliance of several European countries announced a new $116 million package of air defense capabilities for Ukraine.

The defense ministers from the Joint Expeditionary Force — which includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom — made the decision on Tuesday after a meeting.

“The equipment, worth 92 million pounds ($116 million), will be procured in the coming months through the International Fund for Ukraine (IFU) to bolster Ukraine’s ability to protect its critical national infrastructure, civilian population, and front-line personnel,” the UK government said in a statement.

The package “will provide radars to help protect from indiscriminate Russian strikes as well as guns and a significant amount of ammunition,” it added.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken separately announced a new $325 million security assistance for Ukraine on Tuesday.

US secretary of state announces new $325 million security assistance package for Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new $325 million security assistance for Ukraine on Tuesday.

The latest package — the 40th presidential drawdown — includes “critical air defense capabilities, additional munitions for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, artillery rounds, anti-tank weapons, armored vehicles, and other equipment essential to strengthening Ukraine’s forces on the battlefield,” Blinken said.

“The United States and our allies and partners will stand united with Ukraine, for as long as it takes,” the statement read.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the US for the latest security assistance package in a tweet on Tuesday.

“Thank you @POTUS for another package of defense assistance,” he tweeted, “Weapons and military equipment worth $325 million is exactly what the [Ukrainian] Defense Forces need today. We appreciate the unwavering support of the friendly [American] people. And effective assistance in liberating the territories temporarily occupied by the Russian aggressor. Together we will restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity, preserve its independence and protect its democracy.”

NATO chief says Ukraine is gaining ground in its offensive

NATO’s secretary general says Ukraine is gaining ground in its offensive, a fact he said underscored the need for continued Western assistance.

“The Ukrainians have launched an offensive. It’s still early days, but they are making process. They are gaining ground. The more ground the Ukrainians are able to gain, the stronger hand they will have around the negotiating table,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated Tuesday at the White House following talks with President Joe Biden.

With Ukrainian gains on the battlefield, Russian President Vladimir Putin will recognize that he can’t win the war, the NATO chief added.

The main focus of the Oval Office talks was July’s NATO summit in Lithuania, including the need for members of the alliance to recommit to defense spending levels.

Biden says NATO allies have never been more united in meeting with secretary general

President Joe Biden welcomed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to the White House Tuesday, telling the European leader he’s done “an incredible job” leading the alliance.

“We saw each other last in Warsaw, and I think you said, and I agree, NATO allies have never been more united. We both worked like hell to make sure that happened and so far, so good,” he told Stoltenberg during a brief press spray in the Oval Office.

The president joked that, in invading Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hopes for a divided NATO backfired.

“I remember you and I talked—I think I said it to you, I know I said that Putin is making a mistake—he was looking for the Finland-ization of NATO, he got the NATO-ization of Finland, and hopefully Sweden,” Biden said.

“And your friendship and leadership has meant a great deal. We also strengthened NATO’s Eastern Flank, made it clear that we’ll defend every inch of NATO territory, and I say it again—the commitment of the United States to NATO’s Article 5 is rock solid,” he added.

Looking forward to next month’s NATO summit in Lithuania, Biden pledged the alliance would “be building on that momentum,” while touting support from Asian allies in Japan and South Korea.

And he offered effusive praise for Stoltenberg’s leadership on the European continent, noting, “In no small part because of your leadership, we’ve got, beyond NATO, another 30-something, well a total of 40 nations that are committed to the independence of Ukraine.”

“And I think it’s a real clear message—so God willing, we’re going to be able to keep this unity up, and thank you for your leadership,” he continued.

Biden did not respond to shouted questions on the Trump indictment.

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