Ukraine, Briefly

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This week, capping days of attacks on Kyiv and other cities in what most Western officials believe is in retaliation for an explosion on a bridge linking Russia to Crimea, Russia launched a drone attack using Iranian hardware in the capital’s region and fired a missile at a residential building in southern Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. These areas hadn’t seen air attacks for months. The strikes have killed dozens and galvanized Western support for strengthening Ukraine’s air defenses, even as Israel continues to say no to providing its Iron Dome system to Ukraine, wary of angering Russia. Meanwhile, NATO countries announced deliveries of advanced air defense weapons to counter the Russian missile strikes, the BBC added.

Also this week:

  • Russian soldiers in Ukraine are overstretched and “exhausted,” according to a British spy chief, and President Vladimir Putin is making “strategic errors in judgment,” the Washington Post noted. The assessment from Jeremy Fleming, head of the GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence, cyber and security agency, comes after Putin drafted reservists to bolster his war effort and claimed a “massive strike” across Ukraine this week. At the same time, the Kremlin named Gen. Sergey Surovikin as the overall commander of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the New York Post. Surovikin earned the foreboding moniker “General Armageddon” when directing Russian forces in Syria, where he was accused of ordering a merciless bombing that devastated much of Aleppo.
  • The United Nations General Assembly unanimously condemned Russia’s “attempted illegal annexation” of four Ukrainian regions and demanded its prompt reversal on Wednesday, demonstrating strong worldwide opposition to the seven-month war and Moscow’s attempt to seize its neighbor’s territory, the Associated Press wrote. Even so, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended Ankara’s booming trade ties with Moscow during a Thursday meeting with Putin in Kazakhstan, said France 24. The two leaders’ meeting, the fourth in three months, occurred as the US and EU have increased pressure on Turkey to comply with sanctions against Russia.
  • Ukrainian authorities claimed on Tuesday that they have excavated the bodies of dozens of victims, including civilians and a one-year-old baby, to determine the cause of death after Russian soldiers withdrew from two recently-liberated towns in the eastern Donetsk region, Reuters reported. Officials said the bodies of 55 people had been exhumed in the town of Lyman. Authorities counted 110 ditches containing graves, including some for children, at Lyman’s Nova Maslyakivka cemetery, according to the prosecutor general’s office. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Minister of Environmental Protection Ruslan Strilets warned that the war has devastated Ukraine’s natural world, inflicting an estimated cost of more than $35 billion, Euronews added.

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