Recent developments in Ukraine indicate advances in the southeastern region following a fresh counteroffensive thrust. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shared a video on social media, announcing the recapture of Staromaiorske village in the Donetsk region, marking the first time in weeks that Ukraine has regained territory from Russia. However, The Washington Post has not independently verified this claim.
According to Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar’s message on Telegram, Ukrainian forces are steadily advancing south of Bakhmut, although the battles they are facing are notably challenging. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned that the fighting in southeastern Ukraine has intensified while he was attending the Kremlin’s Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg.
Here is the latest update on the ongoing conflict and its far-reaching impacts.
Kyiv’s latest military thrust aims to reach the Sea of Azov, which could disrupt Moscow’s land bridge to occupied Crimea and serve as a significant military conduit. Despite this objective, Ukrainian forces still remain distant from the sea. Recent weeks have seen multiple Ukrainian attacks on Crimea, which Russia annexed illegally in 2014.
Putin specifically pointed out that the majority of armed clashes have occurred in Zaporizhzhia, describing it as the primary attack area. An anonymous U.S. official stated that it’s unclear what the specific moves in this region may indicate, but the influx of Ukrainian forces could either be fresh troops probing Russian lines or fatigued units being replaced.
In an effort to strengthen ties with African leaders, Putin expressed Russia’s readiness to substitute Ukrainian grain after the Kremlin’s withdrawal from the U.N.-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative, raising concerns about global food security. U.N. officials have criticized the Kremlin for scrapping the agreement, which was meant to alleviate the ongoing food crisis.
The U.S. Senate has passed a defense policy bill, ensuring the extension of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative through fiscal year 2027. This decision has halted partisan attempts to limit aid to Kyiv and is likely to spark heated negotiations with the House.
The presence of the Wagner Group in Belarus, following last month’s mutiny, has raised concerns along Ukraine’s northern border. Belarus served as a staging ground during Putin’s large-scale invasion in February 2022, and the move of Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his fighters to Belarus without facing punishment has led Ukraine to bolster defenses in the vicinity.
An oil depot in the city of Shakhtarsk caught fire after a missile strike, with Russian news agencies attributing the attack to Ukraine. However, Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the strike in the Donetsk region.
In Kharkiv, five people were wounded when shelling hit a residential building late Thursday, according to a statement by Oleh Synyehubov, head of the regional administration.
The port city of Odessa has been targeted by a series of Russian attacks in recent weeks, with Ukrainian officials linking these attacks to Moscow’s withdrawal from the grain deal. During a visit to Odessa’s historic cathedral and UNESCO World Heritage site, which was damaged by missiles over the weekend, President Zelensky expressed concern over the situation.
Ukrainian world-champion fencer Olga Kharlan faced disqualification from the Fencing World Championships in Milan due to her refusal to shake hands with her defeated Russian opponent, Anna Smirnova. Such a gesture is mandatory in fencing. Kharlan, in an Instagram video, stated that she “acted with her heart” and expressed her emotional distress after the disqualification. She called for a change in the rules to reflect the evolving world.
A newly released unclassified Office of the Director of National Intelligence report from June 2023 reveals that China has become an increasingly critical economic partner for Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine. China’s support has helped mitigate the impact of Western sanctions on Russia and has become an essential pillar for Russia’s war effort.
On Thursday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, delivering a letter from President Vladimir Putin. Both Russian and Chinese officials visited Pyongyang to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the armistice of the Korean War.
Insight from Correspondents:
Ukrainians are actively distancing themselves from the Russian language. Throughout Ukraine, people are discarding Russian literature, renaming streets to honor Ukrainians rather than Russian writers, and modifying names of Russian dishes on menus. Iryna Pobidash, an associate professor of linguistics at Kyiv’s Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute, remarked, “For many people, it has become impossible to speak Russian because it is the language of the enemy.”
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