Sunday, July 14, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 536

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:

Moscow intercepts 3 more drone attacks on Belgorod and Kursk regions: Russian MOD

Russia intercepted three more Ukrainian drone attacks on Sunday, two over the western border region of Belgorod and one over the western Kursk region, according to Russia’s Ministry of Defence.

The first drone was thwarted in the early hours of Sunday morning over Belgorod.

“At about 4 a.m. this morning, an attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack using a single unmanned aerial vehicle against facilities in the territory of the Russian Federation was thwarted,” the ministry said.

“Russian air defense equipment detected and destroyed the unmanned aerial vehicle over the territory of Belgorod Oblast,” it added.

The second attack on the region was thwarted around 11 a.m. local time. A third drone attack over the Kursk region was then obstructed around 11:30 a.m.

No casualties or damage were reported, the ministry said.

Russia had already “foiled” a Ukrainian drone attack over the Belgorod region on Saturday, according to the ministry.

Ukrainian drone strikes inside Russia have become an increasingly common feature of the war, with Kyiv warning that more will come.

Belgorod and other western border regions in Russia are frequent targets.

After an attack on Moscow in July, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated, “the war is gradually returning to Russia’s territory.”


Death toll in Kherson rises to seven

The number of deaths caused by the Russian forces shelling of two villages in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson on Sunday has risen to seven, according to the Ukrainian authorities.

Earlier, six people had been reported dead, including a baby, but following reports that a 12-year-old who was critically wounded later died in hospital, the number was adjusted.

Ukraine’s military reclaimed the western part of the Kherson region from Russian occupation last November, but Kremlin forces have continued regularly shelling the area from across the Dnipro River.


2 ammunition depots destroyed in Russian-occupied town in Kherson region: Ukrainian military official

Two ammunition depots were destroyed in the Russian-occupied town of Oleshky in southern Ukraine’s Kherson region shortly after midnight, according to Vladislav Nazarov, the spokesman for the Operational Command “South”.

“In temporarily occupied Oleshky, 2 ammo depots were destroyed after midnight,” Nazarov said on Telegram.

He added there were strikes on concentrations of Russian personnel.

Ukraine has been escalating its targeting of Russian infrastructure and territory.

Earlier this month, explosions hit critical road bridges linking occupied Crimea with parts of Russian-controlled areas in the Kherson region, Russian authorities said, claiming that the bridges were hit by air-launched long-range missile supplied to Ukraine by the UK.

More Ukrainian missiles were shot down in the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea on Saturday.


Russian warship fires on cargo ship near Ukraine: Moscow

A Russian warship has opened warning fire on a Palau-flagged cargo ship in the southwestern Black Sea as it made its way to Ukraine, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

The Vasily Bykov patrol ship was reported to have fired with automatic weapons on the “Sukru Okan” vessel after the captain did not respond to a request to halt for an inspection.

The Sukru Okan was making its way towards the Ukrainian port of Izmail, the ministry announced.

“To forcibly stop the vessel, warning fire was opened from automatic weapons,” it said.

The Russian military boarded the vessel with the help of a Ka-29 helicopter.

“After the inspection group completed its work on board, the Sukru Okan continued on its way to the port of Izmail.”


Russia says it intercepted a Ukrainian drone over the border region of Belgorod

Russian defenses intercepted a Ukrainian drone over the western border region of Belgorod on Saturday, Russia’s defense ministry said.

The attempted attack happened around 5:30 p.m. local time (10:30 a.m. ET), but it was “foiled,” the ministry said in a post on Telegram. Nothing was damaged in the incident and no one was wounded or killed, the post added.

The defense ministry did not name a potential target of the attack, saying simply that it was an assault on “facilities on the territory of the Russian Federation.”

Ukrainian drone strikes inside Russia have become an increasingly common feature of the war, with Kyiv warning that more will come.

A string of drone strikes has peppered Russian cities, including the capital of Moscow, throughout the summer. Belgorod and other western border regions are also frequent targets.


Ukraine pressures Germany to supply Taurus missiles

Ukraine continues to pressure the German government to supply Kyiv with German Taurus cruise missiles for defence against Russia.

Ukraine needs them “to save more lives of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians and to speed up the liberation of its territories,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Sunday edition of Germany’s Bild tabloid.

“The formula is simple: A longer range of missiles means a shorter duration of the war,” the minister added.

With the weapon, he stated, Ukraine could “reach Russian occupation forces on Ukrainian soil far beyond the front line, disrupt their logistics and destroy command centres and ammunition depots”. Kuleba reiterated assurances that the cruise missiles would only be deployed within Ukraine’s borders.

In Germany, politicians from the governing parties and the opposition demanded that the Ukrainian armed forces be given the weapons system suitable for destroying bunkers and protected command posts at distances of up to 500km (311 miles).


Kiev’s attempts to hit Crimean Bridge not to remain without response: Moscow

Ukraine’s acts of sabotage will be responded in kind, as such barbaric steps cannot be justified, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated commenting on Ukrainian attempts to attack Crimea and the Crimean Bridge.

“Such acts of sabotage provides the international community with a change to see for themselves the true colors of the Kiev regime. Such barbaric actions cannot be justified, and they will not remain without a response,” Zakharova said in a statement published by the ministry.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that Kiev’s drone attacks on the peninsula and S-200 missile attacks on the Crimean Bridge were repelled.


Ukraine’s military reports “partial success” near hard-fought frontline village in south

Ukraine claimed “partial success” near the village of Robotyne along the southern Zaporizhzhia front after weeks of fighting in the area, as Russia continues offensive efforts near Kupiansk in the northeastern Kharkiv region that borders Russia.

Ukraine’s drive to push down to the Sea of Azov and through to the Melitopol and Berdiansk areas continues, with fierce fighting along the front lines in that southern direction, officials say.

On Friday, social media video and images showed Ukrainian troops had entered Robotyne — a location that has seen heavy battles for several weeks. According to the Institute for the Study of War, even marginal gains by Ukraine in this area are significant.

Meanwhile, Russians made “unsuccessful attempts” to regain lost ground near the village of Urozhaine in the eastern Donetsk region, the Ukrainian military’s General Staff said. On Thursday, Ukraine also claimed “partial success” in gaining positions in the area near the recently retaken village of Staromaiorske.

Russian forces are trying to “escalate and take over the initiative” in the east in an effort to “pull” Ukrainian troops from other areas of the front lines, according to a regional military official.

In the Lyman-Kupiansk direction in the northeastern Kharkiv region, “the enemy is trying escalate and take over the initiative at this direction and attacking our positions,” said Serhii Cherevatyi, the deputy commander of strategic communications for the eastern military grouping.

Russian forces attempted offensives near Kupiansk, which were repelled in a number of settlements in the area, according to the daily update from the General Staff.

With the upcoming anniversary of Ukraine’s September 2022 lightning offensive, Cherevatyi stated on national television Saturday that Russian forces are looking to make gains there and “want to pull our forces and resources away from the Bakhmut area at all costs.” Ukraine has bolstered its defensive positions since last fall, according to the spokesperson.

A mandatory evacuation was ordered for Kupiansk and surrounding areas as Russia intensified shelling of the area and claimed to have captured some Ukrainian positions near the northeastern city that lies close to the Russian border. Kupiansk fell to Moscow’s forces within the first week of their invasion in February last year, but was then taken back last September.


Russia says it intercepted a Ukrainian drone over the border region of Belgorod

Russian defenses intercepted a Ukrainian drone over the western border region of Belgorod on Saturday, Russia’s defense ministry confirmed.

The attempted attack happened around 5:30 p.m. local time (10:30 a.m. ET), but it was “foiled,” the ministry said in a post on Telegram. Nothing was damaged in the incident and no one was wounded or killed, the post added.

The defense ministry did not name a potential target of the attack, saying simply that it was an assault on “facilities on the territory of the Russian Federation.”

Ukrainian drone strikes inside Russia have become an increasingly common feature of the war, with Kyiv warning that more will come.

A string of drone strikes has peppered Russian cities, including the capital of Moscow, throughout the summer. Belgorod and other western border regions are also frequent targets.


Ukraine opens registration for merchant ships to sail temporary corridors in Black Sea

Ukraine opened registration Saturday for merchant ships to sail through temporary corridors in the Black Sea, according to the Ukrainian Navy.

“Registration is now open, and the coordinator is already working,” a spokesperson from the Ukrainian Navy, Dmytro Pletenchuk, said on national television Saturday.

The temporary routes aim to overcome the global food security crisis, Pletenchuk continued. He added that it will allow shipowners and companies to “finally take back their merchant vessels that are in humanitarian captivity due to the constant threats of Russians at sea.”

Pletenchuk stated ship owners and captains have been warned of the existing danger, and said Ukrainian Armed Forces will help to ensure the security of the merchant ships sailing through the corridors, with the Navy “doing everything we can.”

The Ukrainian Navy first announced the temporary corridors for civilian ships to sail to and from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea on Thursday. The navy outlined that only vessels whose owners or captains officially accept the current conditions will be allowed to use the routes.

However, it is not immediately clear when ships will begin using the new routes.

Pletenchuk also did not outline a set duration for how long the corridors will remain open, saying, “everything depends on the events in the Black Sea.”

Last month, Russia said it was suspending its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, once again raising fears over global food supplies.

The deal allowed Ukraine to export grain by sea, with ships bypassing a Russian blockade of the country’s Black Sea ports and navigating safe passage through the waterway to Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait in order to reach global markets. It proved vital for stabilizing global food prices and bringing relief to the developing countries that rely on Ukrainian exports.


Ukrainians paying up to $10,000 to escape draft: Report

Thousands of Ukrainian men have paid large sums in bribes to avoid getting drafted during the ongoing conflict between Kiev and Moscow, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

The news comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky launched a massive military purge, sacking all of the regional military conscription officials and citing the multiple corruption scandals rocking the country. The recruitment officials are set to be replaced by combat veterans, according to Kiev’s plan.

Over the course of the ongoing conflict, thousands of Ukrainians have managed to escape the draft through various schemes in a culture of corruption. Kiev banned men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country when it first introduced martial law in February 2022, but the move only fueled more corrupt practices. One of the most popular options was simply buying medical exemption papers for some $6,000 on average, the FT reported, citing the findings of a probe into corruption by Ukrainian authorities.

Thousands of Ukrainian men have also attempted to leave the country illegally, with some 13,600 caught near border crossings and another 6,100 apprehended at checkpoints with fake papers, the FT noted, citing the latest official figures.

The head of the Odessa regional recruitment center Evgeny Borisov, who was arrested last month, turned out to be one of the most ‘prolific’ officials involved in draft-dodging rackets. The official is now suspected of bagging more than $5 million in bribes, charging from $2,000 to $10,000 per person for various ‘options’ to escape the draft. Borisov is believed to have been using the ill-gotten money to fund a posh lifestyle, with his family procuring a €4.2-million ($4.6-mn) villa in Spain last December, as well as other luxury assets, according to Ukrainian investigators.

Apart from the ongoing corruption scandals, the Ukrainian draft effort has also been marred by the violent actions of conscription officials. Numerous disturbing videos highlighting certain Ukrainian draft techniques emerged online in recent months, as Kiev struggled to compensate for its reported heavy battlefield losses.

Multiple videos show conscription officers chasing random men in the streets to give them a draft notice, violently detaining and even beating up the would-be soldiers. Many of these conscripts were reportedly killed on the frontline just days after getting ‘drafted’ in such a fashion.


Ukrainians won’t fly F-16s until summer 2024: Report

The first batch of Ukrainian pilots are not expected to complete training on US-made F-16 fighter jets before next summer, the Washington Post reported on Saturday, citing senior government and military officials in Kiev.

According to the outlet, only six pilots are set to go through the first round of training, with two other pilots being reserved as backup candidates. Although they are all fluent in English, officials insist the pilots attend four months of English lessons in Britain, to learn specific terminology associated with the sophisticated jets.

Only after they have completed these language courses will the pilots be able to start combat training. Ukrainian officials told the Washington Post that this will likely happen no sooner than January and that the F-16 training program itself will take six months.

A second group of about the same size is expected to be prepared to fly the jets by the end of 2024, the officials added, expressing their dismay at the sluggishness of the process.

“This is called dragging it out,” one of the sources told the outlet, noting that he was reluctant to be too critical of US and European benefactors out of fear of appearing ungrateful.

US officials have also told the Washington Post that another 20 Ukrainian pilots are ready to start English courses, with most of the country’s best pilots expected to remain in Ukraine during their language training as they continue to fly sorties in Soviet-era planes.

Last week, Politico also reported that, according to US sources, out of the 32 pilots Ukraine had hoped to train on the F-16s, only eight had sufficient English skills to take part in the instruction program.

Kiev has been demanding for months that its Western backers supply it with the US-made fighter jets, arguing that they are crucial to its ongoing counteroffensive operation and would ultimately help Ukraine “win the war” with Russia.

However, the sentiment has not been shared by Washington, which has suggested that the aircraft would have a limited impact on the battlefield due to extensive use of air defense systems by Russian forces in Ukraine.

Russian officials have repeatedly warned the West that the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine would lead to an escalation of the conflict, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggesting that the US-made jets could potentially carry nuclear weapons.

› Subscribe

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

More Articles