Monday, June 17, 2024

Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 523: Five killed, dozens injured in Russian missile strike against Ukraine’s Kryvyi Rih

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:

Death toll from Kryvyi Rih attack rises to five: Zelensky

At least five people have been killed, including a mother and her child, after a Russian missile strike in Kryvyi Rih hit a residential building.

On Telegram, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “The [rescue] work is difficult – parts of the building’s structure were falling down. The terrorists also targeted the university building and the administrative building. As of now, five people are reported dead, including a child and her mother.

“My condolences! Dozens of people are injured and traumatized, all of them are being provided with the necessary assistance,” he stated.

The president added that 350 people are involved in the rescue efforts.


Kryvyi Rih attack a ‘genocidal everyday reality’: Official

The head of Volodymyr Zelensky’s office called the attacks on Kryvyi Rih a “genocidal everyday reality” and asked for air defence systems.

Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on social media: “This is already a kind of genocidal everyday reality … Kryvyi Rih. A Russian missile destroys another residential building. 53 injured. Four killed. Among them are a 45-year-old woman and a 10-year-old daughter.”

“International law will never work if the aggressor does not see a real power behind it. The power begins with closing the Ukrainian skies with missile defence and air defence systems,” he added.


Around 180,000 tons of grain destroyed by Russia: Ukraine

Ukraine’s foreign ministry announced Russian air strikes destroyed an estimated 180,000 metric tons of grain crops in the space of nine days this month.

Since quitting the Black Sea grain deal last week, Russia has conducted several air strikes on Ukrainian ports.


Kremlin warns of security guarantees for Ukraine

The Kremlin warns of a deteriorating security situation in Europe as negotiations continue around possible future Western security guarantees for Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said possible bilateral security guarantees for Ukraine would upset the principles of international relations.

“In our opinion, this will only lead to a further deterioration of the security situation on the European continent,” Peskov stated.

Kyiv hopes to start security talks this week with the United States before joining NATO at a later date.

Russia has repeatedly claimed that its security is threatened by Ukraine’s aspirations to join the European Union and NATO.


More than 700,000 Ukrainian children taken to Russia since start of war: Russian official

More than 700,000 Ukrainian children have been taken to Russia since the beginning of the war, according to Maria Lvova-Belova, Russian ombudsperson for children’s rights.

“Since February 2022, the Russian Federation has received about 4.8 million residents of Ukraine and the Donbas republics, of which more than 700,000 are children,” she said in a report Monday.

The report claims most of them arrived “with their parents or other relatives.”

Lvova-Belova is one of the two Russians that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague issued a warrant against in March, alleging their responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation and transfer of children during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin is the second individual they charged.

According to the document, about 1,500 students of institutions for orphans or those left without parental care came to Russia, and 288 children from the occupied Donetsk region were subsequently placed under guardianship in foster families of Russian citizens.

“Children from the LPR [Luhansk People’s Republic] returned to their institutions, but subsequently 92 children left without parental care, at the request of the authorized bodies in the field of guardianship and guardianship of the Republic, were placed under guardianship in Russian foster families,” it added.


Death toll from Kryvyi Rih missile attack rises to 4 and 53 injured: Ukrainian official

Russia used two ballistic missiles to target Kryvyi Rih, the head of the city’s Defense Council, Oleksandr Vilkul, told CNN on Monday.

“This is a classic terrorist act. This is not the first time a residential building in Kryvyi Rih has been hit with missiles when they hit civilians directly,” Vikul told CNN over the phone.

“Today they hit with ballistic missiles. There were two missiles, two hits,” he stated.

At least 4 people were killed and 53 were injured in the attack.

“As of now, there are 53 wounded, including three children. Three of the wounded are in serious condition, one is in a very serious condition in the hospital,” Vilkul said.

“As of now, 4 people have died – two men and a family – a mother and a 10-year-old girl. The rubble has not yet been cleared, so, unfortunately, these numbers may grow,” he added.

Vilkul went on to describe a chaotic scene with search and rescue services still active.

“I just returned from the scene a few minutes ago. Search and rescue operations are ongoing there. The building collapsed – a piece of the structure fell down,” he continued, noting, “We have set up headquarters near each of the attack sites with food, water and medical assistance. We are providing accommodation for people.”


Kremlin will monitor Ukraine peace negotiations in Saudi Arabia

The Kremlin has said it will be “monitoring” upcoming peace talks on Ukraine expected to take place in Saudi Arabia, between Kyiv and the heads of several western and developing nations.

The Kremlin spokesperson reiterated Russia’s claim that it does not have any “prerequisites” when it comes to a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian conflict, but accused Kyiv of not wanting peace.

“The Kyiv regime does not want and cannot want peace as long as it is used solely as a tool in the war of the collective West with Russia,” presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists during a call on Monday.

“Is it possible at the moment to reach a peaceful settlement with the participation of the Kyiv regime and its current position, the answer is unequivocal: no, it is impossible,” he continued.

“We have repeatedly said that any attempts to promote a peaceful settlement are worthy of a positive assessment,” he added.

Saudi Arabia is set to host Ukraine peace talks including Western and several developing countries, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, said on Sunday. Yermak did not provide specific dates for the summit.

Yermak stated that “each point of the Peace Formula is being discussed in an individual and group format with representatives of more than 50 countries of the world on an almost weekly basis,” referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s 10-point plan he presented to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last year. The steps include a path to nuclear safety, food security, a special tribunal for alleged Russian war crimes and a final peace treaty with Moscow.

Yermak said that the goal of the talks is “to unite the world around Ukraine.”


Russia says Ukraine’s drone strikes in its territory are “acts of desperation”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Ukraine’s attempts to attack Moscow with drones are “acts of desperation.”

Peskov’s comments came after Kyiv attempted several attacks on Russian territory using unmanned aerial vehicles over the weekend. Russia said Sunday it had downed or intercepted three drones over Moscow and another 25 over the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.

Hours after the attempted strike on Moscow, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine was succeeding on the battlefield and that war is “gradually returning” to Russian soil.

On his regularly scheduled call with journalists Monday, Peskov likened the drone attacks to “terrorist strikes.” He added that security measures have been in put in place in the Russian capital to minimize the risk from these types of attacks.


Ukraine makes modest gains in Bakhmut sector, hold off Russian attacks: Defense official

Ukrainian authorities on Monday morning reported modest territorial gains around the frontlines of the city of Bakhmut, as well as repelling Russian attacks elsewhere.

The Ukrainian Defense Forces freed two square kilometers (0.7 square miles) of territory in the Bakhmut sector over the past week, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said during a live broadcast Monday. That brings the total liberated area in eastern Ukraine to 37 kilometers 914 square miles).

She added Ukrainian troops are conducting successful offensives in areas south of the city of Bakhmut.

Maliar also stated Russia “continues to focus its main efforts on the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Mariinka directions, and heavy fighting continues,” reporting “more than 170 battles” in those areas.

Russia failed an attempt to push Ukrainian troops out of the Serebryansky forest in the Lyman sector, while Ukrainian defense forces were “holding back enemy troops effectively” in the Kupyansk sector, Maliar added.

Russian forces focused their main efforts on attacks in the Avdiivka and Mariinka directions within the Donetsk region but were also unsuccessful, she continued.

She said Ukrainian Defense Forces liberated Staromaiorske, in the Donetsk region, “under heavy fire from aviation and artillery.”

In the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukrainian forces have been “successful and are consolidating their positions” in the areas of Mala Tokmachka and Robotyne.

Since the beginning of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, 204.7 square kilometers (79 square miles) have been liberated, of which 12.6 square kilometers (5 square miles) were retaken over the past week.


Russia launches missiles strikes on central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih

Russia launched a pair of missiles at the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, killing at least two people and injuring another 20, Kyiv announced on Monday.

Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said a four-story school building was struck and parts of the fourth through ninth floors of a nearby residential tower were destroyed.

Klymenko also added it was likely people could be trapped under the rubble and that first responders were working at the scene. Klymenko warned residents to stay in shelters until the air raid alarm was turned off.

“We are trying to save as many people as possible,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter.

Zelensky stated the strike in Kryvyi Rih was part of a Russian bombardment in which “the enemy has been stubbornly attacking cities, city centers, shelling civilian objects and housing.”

“But this terror will not frighten us or break us. We are working and saving our people,” he added.


Ukraine to start talks with US on ‘security guarantees’: Kiev

Kiev and Washington will enter into talks on US security guarantees for Ukraine in early August, an aide to President Vladimir Zelensky, Andrey Ermak, told journalists. The negotiations are expected to start as early as next week, he added.

Ermak described the security arrangements as a temporary measure until Ukraine joins NATO, which he called “the most reliable security guarantee.”

According to the presidential aide, the set of measures, which will be listed in a future bilateral agreement between Kiev and Washington, will involve military and financial assistance for Ukraine, as well as “sanctions and punishment for the aggressor.”

The arrangements will include “clearly defined forms and mechanisms of support,” Ermak said, adding that Kiev expects the guarantees to ensure Ukraine’s “ability to win” the conflict with Moscow and contain what he called “Russian aggression” in the future.


Ukraine says it’s making “slow but steady” gains around Bakhmut, picking up ground each day

Ukraine’s forces are “gradually moving forward” around the battered city of Bakhmut, while also claiming some gains elsewhere on the eastern front, a military spokesperson told CNN on Sunday.

Surrounding Bakhmut, Kyiv’s military has generally been able to gain hundreds of meters per day and capture kilometers of territory each week, according to Serhii Cherevatyi, who represents the military’s eastern grouping.

“This is a tactic of slow but steady progress. We realize that we have comparable forces and means, and sometimes the enemy outnumbers us,” Cherevatyi said.

“We use the tactics of coverage, maneuvers, ambush and not direct frontal attacks. And so, we are gradually moving forward,” he added.

Bakhmut is one of the most fiercely contested cities in the conflict, with both militaries pouring significant resources into its capture. While the territory bears some strategic value, it also has become a powerful symbol in a war where Russian President Vladimir Putin has had few recent clear-cut victories.

In May, fighters with the Wagner private military group claimed to have captured the city and handed it over to Russia’s military. But in the time since, Ukraine has reported that heavy fighting continues in the area and claimed regular gains all around the city.


Moscow: Ukraine rejects mediation ideas, fixates on ultimatums to Russia

US may escalate Ukraine conflict during 2024 elections: Russian official

The United States may aggravate the Ukrainian conflict in 2024 if one of the parties needs additional votes in connection with the ongoing presidential race in the country, Deputy Speaker of Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Konstantin Kosachev stated in an interview with aif.ru.

“This is a very dangerous situation, because the Americans are not afraid to use foreign policy in their inter-party rivalry. If one of the parties feels that it needs to escalate the situation in Ukraine in order to gain more votes in the elections, it will do so. So the fact that the presidential election in the United States, which will culminate in 2024, could be a terrible, if not catastrophic event. I can’t guarantee that there will be an escalation, but the risk is obvious to me. The unpredictability of American behavior will increase and the tail may start wagging the dog again,” he said in response to a question about the impact of the US presidential election on the conflict.

According to Kosachev, further escalation of the military conflict with the use of Heavier types of weapons could increase the likelihood of nuclear use.

“Fortunately, we have not yet reached that threshold. However, there is a risk of approaching it,” the lawmaker stressed.

According to the senator, Washington persuaded Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to abandon any talks with Russia last year and has no plans to return to the path of negotiations.

“They (negotiations on Ukraine) began in March last year, but were thwarted by an unprecedented external influence on Ukraine. Then, by decree, President Zelensky banned himself and all other Ukrainian authorities from engaging in such talks. This is, of course, a decision made by the United States. They most likely have the ability to reverse their decision. But I have not yet seen such intentions,” Kosachev noted.


Ukraine announces peace talks in Saudi Arabia, which will include Western and developing nations

Saudi Arabia is set to host Ukraine peace talks including Western and several developing countries, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, said on Sunday.

“We are preparing the next meeting of advisers to the leaders of the states regarding the implementation of the Peace Formula of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, which will soon take place in Saudi Arabia,” Yermak stated.

The talks, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, will involve Ukraine, Western nations and key developing countries, including India and Brazil — but Russia will not be a participant.

While Yermak did not provide specific dates for the summit, the Journal reported that the meeting is due to take place in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah from August 5 to 6.

Yermak noted that “each point of the Peace Formula is being discussed in an individual and group format with representatives of more than 50 countries of the world on an almost weekly basis,” referring to Zelensky’s 10-point plan he presented to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last year. The steps include a path to nuclear safety, food security, a special tribunal for alleged Russian war crimes and a final peace treaty with Moscow.

Yermak added that the goal of the talks is “to unite the world around Ukraine.”

“The evidence of this goal is obvious: we involve the countries of the West, the East, the North and the South,” he continued.

On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Moscow has never rejected peace negotiations with Ukraine. In order to start the process to end the war, an agreement is needed from both sides, but it’s difficult to reach one while Ukraine’s army is on offense, the Russian leader said.

While Zelensky repeatedly said in the beginning months of Russia’s full-scale invasion that he wanted to meet face to face with Putin, he has since ruled out any peace negotiations with Russia until Moscow’s troops withdraw from his country’s territory. Zelensky stressed allowing any negotiations while another nation’s military is occupying Ukraine would only “freeze” the war, pain and suffering caused by Putin’s invasion.


Officials report another drone crash on Russian soil

A drone came down in a rural area of Russia’s southwestern Rostov region near the border with Ukraine on Sunday, according to regional Gov. Vasily Golubev.

“An unmanned aerial vehicle crashed in the settlement of Daraganovka,” Golubev said in a Telegram post Sunday.

The village sits about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Taganrog, where a missile was shot down on Friday. The missile’s remnants fell on the center of the city, wounding 14 people.

In the case of Sunday’s drone crash, the governor stated a home and a car were damaged, but no casualties were immediately reported. An ambulance was headed to the scene at the time of Golubev’s post, he said, and further information may be available later.

The governor added officials are still determining whether the unmanned aerial vehicle was a Ukrainian drone.

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