Saturday, June 22, 2024

Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 533: Russia says thwarted Ukrainian drone attacks on Crimea and Moscow

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:

Russia says ‘improved’ positions along front in Kharkiv region

The Russian army announced it has improved its positions on the front line in northeastern Ukraine around Kupiansk, where Kyiv has reported increasing Russian attacks.

“In the course of offensive operations near Kupiansk, assault teams of the Western battle group improved their positions along the forward edge of the front line,” the Russian Defence Ministry said.


Russian soldiers ‘cremated almost continuously’ near Melitopol: Official

The bodies of dead Russian soldiers are being cremated “almost continuously” near Melitopol, Russia’s deputy defence minister said.

“Hundreds of dead every day in the east and the south,” deputy minister Hanna Maliar claimed in a Telegram post, referring to enemy soldiers.

“Near Melitopol in the Zaporizhia region, the bodies of Russian servicemen are cremated almost continuously in an open area, which are delivered by the occupiers on trucks,” she added.

“Local residents have been feeling the characteristic acrid smoke for a long time,” she said, adding that the bodies were being transported from Kherson, some 100 miles away.


Ukraine’s navy announces Black Sea humanitarian corridor

Ukraine’s navy announced a new temporary Black Sea “humanitarian corridor” had started working and that the first ships were expected to use it within days.

Oleh Chalyk, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Navy, told Reuters that the corridor would be for commercial ships blocked at Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and for grain and agricultural products.

The navy said in a separate statement that the risk posed by mines in the Black Sea and the military threat from Russia remained.


Ukrainian authorities order mandatory evacuation for Kupyansk city and surrounding area

Local authorities around the Ukrainian city of Kupyansk in Kharkiv region have issued a mandatory evacuation order for the city and surrounding areas due to intense Russian shelling of the area.

Kupyansk was one of several cities and towns liberated last September in a lightning Ukrainian offensive, but in recent weeks Russia has stepped up its efforts to capture the city for a second time.

The order says that the mandatory evacuation has been announced for the residents of the city, as well as of Zaoskilya, which lies on the east bank of the Oskil River.

In recent weeks, Russian forces have intensified attempts to break through Ukrainian front lines east of the Oskil river and have increased the frequency of air strikes and artillery barrages against settlements on both sides of the river.

The order says that “taking into account the constant shelling…and the security situation in the territory of Kupyan district,” mandatory evacuation is also required of a number of settlements to the north and east of the city where some civilians are still living.


Death toll rises to 3 in Zaporizhzhia after Russian missile attack

The death toll from a Russian strike on the southern city of Zaporizhzhia Wednesday has risen to three, Ukrainian National Police confirmed Thursday.

“Two civilians were killed as a result of the missile strike, and another woman died in the hospital at night,” police said in an update on Telegram.

Nine people were injured in the attack, including an 11-month-old child, said Yurii Malashko, head of the Zaporizhzhia region military administration.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday reiterated his call for more air defenses following the attack, adding he would continue to work with allies on Kyiv’s request for US-made F-16 fighter jets.


“Massive” drone attack destroys oil depot in western Ukraine: Military official

A “massive” Russian drone attack destroyed an oil depot in Ukraine’s western Rivne region overnight, a Ukrainian military official stated Thursday.

In a video from the scene in Dubno district, posted on Telegram, head of the Rivne regional military administration Vitalii Koval said first responders were working to put out a fire.

The video showed a large fire and plumes of smoke rising from the oil depot.

No casualties were reported, Koval added.


Russia says it repelled Ukrainian drone attacks on Crimea and Moscow

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced it foiled a Ukrainian drone attack near Crimea early Thursday and confirmed earlier reports from Moscow’s mayor that two drones had also been shot down near the capital.

The ministry said two drones were shot down near Sevastopol, the largest city in Russian-occupied Crimea, while nine other drones were “suppressed by electronic warfare capabilities” and crashed into the Black Sea.

Two other drones headed toward Moscow were also shot down by air defenses over the neighboring Kaluga region and over Odintsovo district on the outskirts of the capital, the ministry added.

Earlier, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said two drones were shot down as they approached the Russian capital — the second such attempted attack reported by the official in two days.

No casualties or damage were reported from the alleged drone attacks..

The alleged attacks follow a string of reported Ukrainian drone attack attempts on Russian cities and territory occupied by Moscow.


Zelensky reiterates call for more air defenses following deadly Zaporizhzhia attack

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his call for more air defenses following a Russian attack that left two people dead in the city of Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday.

“Today, Russian terrorists hit Zaporizhzhia again — an ordinary building was hit, a church and a residential building were damaged,” he said in his evening address. “Our entire territory needs much more air defense systems than we have now,” he added.

He said the Ukrainian military is working “step by step” to ramp up Air Force capabilities.

“I have no doubt that F-16s will be in our skies,” Zelensky stressed, something he has asked allies to provide for the last few months.

“Tomorrow I will continue this work, trying my best to provide more protection for the sky,” he added.


Ukrainian officials update death toll in Zaporizhzhia to two

Two people were killed and seven injured in an apparent missile attack by Russia on the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday, Ukrainian officials have said.

Ukrainian officials had earlier reported three deaths.

“Fortunately, one person was resuscitated. Doctors were assisted by police paramedics at the scene,” Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on the Telegram messaging app.

Zaporizhzhia city council secretary Anatoliy Kurtev earlier said that Russia had hit a residential area of the city. According to him, windows were blown out in several buildings.

A video posted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed smoke billowing from burning and badly damaged buildings next to a church.


Ukraine submits report to Pentagon on cluster munition use: Kyiv official

Ukraine has provided the Pentagon with a report about the use of controversial American cluster munitions in the fight with Russia, a Ukrainian official told CNN on Wednesday.

The official said the information transmitted to the defense department included both the number of rounds fired and the number of Russian targets destroyed, though the official declined to say what those figures are.

The expected report was a request by the US as part of the agreement to send artillery rounds with cluster bomblets — known as DPICMs — to Ukraine. In an interview with CNN last month, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he was planning to submit the report to his counterpart, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Ukrainian officials have stated they expect the DPICMs to be more effective than standard artillery rounds, particularly against large groupings of Russian troops and equipment. Last month the White House’s John Kirby said they “having an impact on Russia’s defensive formations and Russia’s defensive maneuvering.”

The US, Russia and Ukraine are not signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions which bans the production and use of clusters and was signed by more than 100 countries.


White House downplays poll showing majority of Americans oppose more US aid for Ukraine

The White House is downplaying a CNN poll that shows most Americans oppose Congress providing additional funding to support Ukraine in its war with Russia ahead of a reported administration request for more aid.

“We have seen throughout this war solid support from the American people, solid support from the Congress in a bipartisan and bicameral way for continuing to support Ukraine and we’re going to stay focused on that,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters Wednesday.

Kirby said the aid is not only important to the people of Ukraine but also to European and NATO allies “given that this fighting is on the doorstep” of many of those countries.

Additionally, he stated, it’s a matter of “national security of the American people.”

“I think it’s important to remember that if we just sit back and we let Putin win, we let him take Ukraine, where does it stop next?” Kirby added.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called for continued support for Ukraine during an event in Louisville, Kentucky, on Wednesday. He pushed back on arguments from House Republicans — and some Senate Republicans — that Russian aggression in Ukraine is not an issue for the US.

“Most of the money that we spend related to Ukraine is actually spent in the US, replenishing weapons, more modern weapons. So, it’s actually employing people here and improving our own military for what may lie ahead,” he said.

Last week a CNN poll showed that overall 55% of people said the US Congress should not authorize additional funding to support Ukraine. That’s compared to 45% who said Congress should authorize such funding.

About 51% said that the US has already done enough to help Ukraine while 48% said it should do more.

A poll conducted in the early days of the Russian invasion in late February 2022 found 62% of people felt the US should have been doing more.

Partisan divisions have widened since that poll, too, with most Democrats and Republicans now on opposing sides of questions on the US role in Ukraine.

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