Ukraine: Moscow wants to focus on the “liberation” of Donbass – Politics

As political and military leaders in Brussels seek answers to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, defenders and attackers are fighting for every piece of ground there. Ukrainians are particularly concerned about the areas around the capital Kiev, which have already been largely destroyed, and say they have made up ground there. This was confirmed by the British military intelligence service and by representatives of the United States Department of Defense.

A good, albeit small, piece of news was that published on Friday morning by the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Wereshchuk: The day before there had been an exchange of prisoners, ten Ukrainians and ten Russians had returned with their respective troops. Civilian sailors from both sides were also exchanged.

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Moscow’s defense ministry announced Friday that the Russian military is now focusing on the complete “liberation” of Donbass, the region of eastern Ukraine where the separatist-occupied “people’s republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk are located. However, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, according to the Russian agency Interfax, “the assault on the Ukrainian cities barricaded” is not ruled out. The ministry considered two options for the “special operation”: either within the breakaway areas of Donbass or throughout Ukraine. With Sergei Rudskoi, one of the major Russian generals commented for the first time on military action and the course of events. Rudskoi is the first deputy chief of staff.

It remains to be seen whether Moscow’s announcement will result in a renunciation of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin’s original war objectives. The renunciation of wanting to largely control Ukraine is not yet evident from this. Rudskoi has not shrugged off the message that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been repeating for weeks: “the special operation” is going exactly according to plan, it is about “demilitarization” and “denazification”, and the civilian population is taken into account.

However, given the strong Ukrainian resistance and the problems of the Russian military keeping a territory they believed already under control, it seems that Moscow is adapting its rhetoric to reality, at least for the moment. In any case, the message fits the assessment that the US Department of Defense had previously made of the large-scale military situation, citing one of its officials, who has never been named: the Russian military is still failing to take the big one. cities, while the Ukrainian military manage to regain some positions.

Even strategically important Cherson is again a “disputed zone”. Kherson in the south, at the mouth of the Dnieper, was the first major Ukrainian city that Russian forces were able to bring under control. Now, however, they are being put on the defensive by Ukrainian counterattacks. According to the US Department of Defense, the Russian military no longer has the tight control over the city it once had.

After taking Cherson, the Russians attacked the city of Mykolaiv north-west of it, but this attack too has been repulsed in places in recent days. A ground offensive in the direction of the port city of Odessa does not seem possible at the moment for the invaders.

Russian forces pushed back east and northeast of Kiev

However, the Russians have increased their combat missions in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced that Russian troops had partially created a land bridge from the Donetsk region to the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed in 2014.

The findings of the British military intelligence service on Friday fit into this picture. As for the situation around Kiev, Russian troops were pushed back to the east and north-east, now they are 55 kilometers away, on Tuesday they were still 25-30 kilometers. There are no further advance attempts.

According to British assessments, this retreat is one of the strongest indications of a change in the dynamics of the war and has to do with “excessive” supply lines, as military jargon calls it, when the supply stops working. The Pentagon said Russian troops have begun digging in defensive positions northwest of the capital.

The Moscow Defense Ministry also announced that it had destroyed a large fuel depot outside Kiev late Thursday evening, using cruise missiles of the type caliber, shot from the sea. These strikes do not necessarily contradict the assessment of US experts that the Russian military, despite its capabilities and extremely destructive artillery and rocket attacks on cities, is not making as much progress as previously thought, because more than half of the precision missiles Russians did not produce any results. strokes. This statement was given to Reuters by three US officials who wished to remain anonymous.

The drama in Mariupol continues

According to experts, a 20 percent failure rate for aircraft-launched cruise missiles is already considered high. US officials, citing intelligence information, said that, depending on the type of missile and the day, that rate reached 60% among Russians in Ukraine.

The drama of the trapped Mariupol continued. Civilian escape buses were ready only a good 70 kilometers away near Berdyansk, Deputy Prime Minister Wereshchuk announced via video. From Mariupol itself, the city administration reported that it must be assumed that about 300 people were killed in last week’s attack on the city theater, where 1,000 people were gathered.

For the first time in weeks, Moscow reported its losses on Friday: so far, 1,351 Russian soldiers have died and 3,825 have been injured, Interfax reported, citing the Defense Ministry.

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