As Ukraine consolidates the territory it has regained in the northeastern province of Kharkiv, it continues to advance in the east and south of the country.
Kyiv forces have recaptured more than 150 miles of land in the southern province of Kherson that had fallen to the Russians earlier in the war, Ukraine’s southern military command said on Thursday. Spokeswoman Natalia Humeniuk added that the situation along the southern front remains fluid.
At the same time, the Ukrainian counteroffensive that drove Russian troops out of Kharkiv and across the border has spread to neighboring Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, which make up the industrial Donbas region that Russia covets. Among the prize winnings was the strategically important city of Lyman.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his officials on Wednesday announced the recovery of villages in those provinces. Zelenskyy proclaimed: “The return of the Ukrainian flag means that a peaceful and socially secure life is once again possible for Donbas.”
With Russia’s attempted annexation of four provinces as a backdrop, further Ukrainian progress in parts of Luhansk seems likely due to favorable terrain and a lack of Russian reinforcements, according to the Washington-based report. Institute for the Study of War.
Furthermore, the institute said, “the ongoing counter-offensives in northern and southern Ukraine are likely forcing the Kremlin to prioritize defending one area of operations at the expense of another, which could increase Ukraine’s likelihood of success in both. “.
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►The head of the US Agency for International Development, Samantha Power, was in Kyiv on Thursday to meet with government officials and residents. She said the US would provide an additional $55 million to repair heating pipes and other equipment.
► The European Union on Thursday froze the assets of another 37 people and entities linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine, including officials involved in the annexation of four Ukrainian provinces.
►Polish officials said they are distributing potassium iodide tablets to regional fire stations in case Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is damaged.
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Two Russians who said they were escaping President Vladimir Putin’s military draft are seeking asylum in the United States after landing on a remote Alaskan island in the Bering Sea, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office said.
Murkowski and fellow Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, both Republicans, said the Russians washed up on a beach near Gambell, an isolated community of about 600 people on St. Lawrence Island. Sullivan said he was alerted to the arrival Tuesday morning, and his spokeswoman said it appeared the two Russians arrived by boat.
Gambell is about 36 miles from the Chukotka Peninsula in Russia’s Siberian region.
A Kremlin spokeswoman on Thursday appeared to placate controversy over any nuclear option in Ukraine and blamed NATO for an escalation in nuclear rhetoric.
“The Russian Federation is fully committed to the principle of the inadmissibility of nuclear war,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Zakharova said she will not “engage in raising the bar on nuclear rhetoric,” saying it serves the interests of NATO countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announcing a partial military mobilization for his country last month, vowed to use “all available means” to deter attacks against Russia, an allusion to Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg then warned of “serious consequences for Russia” if Putin were to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. The United States issued a similar warning.
Russia launched two missile strikes on Thursday that hit apartment blocks in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, officials said. One person was killed and at least five were trapped in the rubble, Governor Oleksandr Starukh wrote on Telegram. Thursday’s attacks came hours after Ukraine announced that Russian occupation forces had been expelled from three more villages in regions illegally annexed by Moscow.
Each side has blamed the other for the rocket attacks that roared distressingly near the plant. Putin on Wednesday declared the plant Russian property, a decree quickly rejected by Ukraine. Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was scheduled to visit Kyiv on Thursday to continue talks on establishing a nuclear safety zone at the plant.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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