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This week, Russia launched a massive missile and drone strike targeting western Ukrainian cities in response to Kyiv’s alleged bombing of a Russian tanker over the weekend, the New York Post reported. The counterattack killed at least six people and resulted in widespread destruction across a number of cities. Ukrainian officials reported shooting down 26 drones during the attack and also launched successful strikes on bridges connecting Crimea to Russian-occupied cities. At the same time, Russia’s defense ministry on Thursday reported shooting down 11 Ukrainian drones near Crimea and intercepting two drones headed for Moscow, according to Agence France-Presse. The ministry said two drones were downed near Sevastopol, while nine others were suppressed through “electronic warfare” and crashed into the Black Sea.
Also this week:
- Belarus started military exercises near its borders with Poland and Lithuania, causing heightened tensions following the arrival of Russia-linked Wagner Group mercenaries in the region, the Associated Press wrote. Both Poland and Lithuania have reinforced border security after the Wagner fighters entered Belarus under a deal to avoid charges over the group’s short-lived rebellion in Russia in June. Belarusian authorities denied allegations of border violations with their helicopters. The drills, based on tactics from Russia’s war in Ukraine, are taking place near the Suwalki Gap, a strategic region connecting the Baltic states with NATO. Some reports suggest more Wagner fighters are due to arrive in Belarus, which has sparked concerns in the West. On Thursday, Poland announced it would deploy 10,000 additional troops to the border with Belarus, France 24 added.
- Talks in Saudi Arabia aimed at resolving the Ukrainian-Russian war were described by a senior Ukrainian official as productive, Reuters added. However, Russia, which was excluded from the talks, dismissed the meeting as a futile attempt by the West to gain support for Ukraine. More than 40 nations, including China, India, the US, and European countries participated in the talks. Ukraine and its allies aimed to secure broad international backing for its peace terms, which include the withdrawal of Russian troops and the return of Ukrainian territory.
- Ukraine arrested an informant involved in a plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this week, accusing her of collaborating with Russia, NBC News reported. The woman was reportedly collecting intelligence about Zelenskyy’s activities during his recent visit to the southern Mykolaiv region, and was caught passing intelligence to Russian agents. Ukrainian intelligence is investigating her ties to alleged Russian spies and her involvement in identifying strategic assets for a planned airstrike in the Mykolaiv region.
- A new schoolbook approved by Russian authorities is providing justification for the war on Ukraine, while accusing the West of trying to dismantle Russia, the BBC wrote. This history textbook, called, “Russian History, 1945 – early 21st century,” co-authored by Vladimir Medinsky, a presidential adviser, portrays Putin’s military operation in Ukraine as necessary to prevent a potential global catastrophe. The book attempts to reinforce Kremlin propaganda by depicting Ukraine as an aggressor manipulated by the West, and distorts events such as the 2014 annexation of Crimea.