Ukraine, Briefly

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This week, Ukraine launched a major push in its offensive against Russia with fierce fighting breaking out in southeastern Ukraine, the Associated Press reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that “hostilities have intensified significantly” while insisting that Kyiv’s push wasn’t successful, a claim that could not be verified. For the past few weeks, battles have raged at multiple points along the 600-mile frontline, with Ukrainian troops making only incremental gains since the offensive was launched in June, the Washington Post reported. The Russian military has deterred Ukrainian progress with airstrikes and also by mining vast areas along the front, the New York Times said. Meanwhile, Ukrainian defense officials said troops are advancing toward the city of Melitopol in the Zaporizhizhia region, which would be a major success for Ukraine if recaptured. The city is part of the land corridor between Russia and Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, and would cut off supply access to Russian troops.

Also this week:

  • A missile strike on Ukraine’s southern Odesa region further damaged its port infrastructure in the latest attack since Moscow broke off a grain export agreement, threatening world supplies, Reuters reported. At the same time, Putin hosted a summit with African leaders where he promised to give free grain to African countries hard hit by falling exports and rising prices, the newswire said in a separate story. The summit is part of a push by Russia to woo Africa after it lost much support across the world in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine last year.
  • China is exploiting a loophole by supplying non-lethal but militarily useful equipment to Russia, supporting Moscow’s war on Ukraine, Politico reported. The equipment includes bulletproof vests, helmets, drones, and thermal optical sights. While the US has expressed concerns about China’s actions, the transactions underscore that the West lacks the power to impose an outright ban on trade.
  • Belarus’ democratic opposition said this week that almost 4,000 Wagner Group fighters are now in the country, with more expected to arrive, Newsweek noted. The fighters are based at a military base in Tsel, close to Minsk. Wagner’s presence in Belarus following an attempted uprising in Russia in June is raising concerns for neighboring NATO nations. Meanwhile, the opposition has urged the West to impose more sanctions on Lukashenko and Putin.
  • US Marine veteran Trevor Reed, who was previously detained in Russia for three years before his release, was injured while fighting in Ukraine, according to NBC News. The US State Department confirmed his status without releasing further details. Reed is one of thousands of foreigners – including dissident Russians and Belarussians – fighting on behalf of Ukraine.
  • The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), found anti-personnel mines in the buffer zone of the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, a move that violates safety procedures, Reuters added. Russia seized the plant following last year’s invasion of Ukraine. Since then, both Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling near the station. The IAEA’s director-general, Rafael Grossi, stated that the mines do not pose an immediate risk to the plant’s security but they are worrisome, especially to the remaining staff at the plants.

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