- NATO slams Putin for ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ rhetoric
- The European Union urges Belarus not to host Russian nuclear weapons
- Avdiivka became “post-apocalyptic”, the official city closed
- Russia shoots down a Ukrainian drone south of Moscow, and 3 are injured
KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s ground forces commander said on Monday that Kiev was planning its next move after Moscow shifted the focus of its offensive from a weak assault on the eastern city of Pakhmut to another town in the south described as a post-apocalyptic. .
The Ukrainian military aims to wear down Russian forces as much as possible before launching a counteroffensive in the coming weeks or months – in an effort to end the all-out invasion launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin 13 months ago.
The commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Sersky, who said last week that the counterattack was “very close”, visited the front’s forces in the east on Monday and said his forces were still repelling Russian attacks on Bakhmut.
He said the defense of the small town in the industrial Donbass region that Russia has tried to seize for months was a “military necessity”, praising Ukraine’s resilience in “extremely difficult circumstances”.
“We are calculating all possible options for the development of events, and we will adequately react to the current situation.”
Commander-in-Chief General Valery Zaluzhny said on Saturday that the situation is “stabilizing” around Bakhmut, where Russian forces say they are fighting street by street.
Last week, the Ukrainian military warned that Avdiivka, a smaller town 90 km to the south, could become a “second Pakhmut” as Russia turns its attention there. Both cities were reduced to rubble in a fight that both sides called a “meat grinder”.
“I’m sad to say this, but Avdiivka is becoming more and more like a place from a post-apocalyptic movie,” said Vitaly Barabash, the head of the city’s military department. Only about 2,000 of the pre-war population of 30,000 remained and he urged them to leave.
A Ukrainian army video showed smoke billowing from destroyed apartment buildings and dead soldiers in open ground and in trenches in Bakhmut.
Two people were killed and 29 wounded on Monday after Russian forces fired two S-300 missiles at the eastern city of Sloviansk, northwest of Bakhmut, according to the region’s governor Pavlo Kirilenko. President Volodymyr Zelensky released a video of the flaming wreckage and vowed that “Ukraine will not forgive” such attacks. Moscow denies targeting civilians.
Within Russia, the Defense Ministry said it shot down a Ukrainian drone on Sunday, adding that three people were wounded and residential buildings damaged in the attack south of Moscow.
Kiev generally does not comment on reports of attacks inside Russia. The latest reported attack on the town of Kirievsk in the Tula region, 220 km south of Moscow, appeared to be one of the closest so far to the Russian capital.
Nuclear distribution plan
As Putin’s invasion takes shape to “demilitarize” Ukraine, he and other top Russian officials have raised the prospect of the war escalating to include nuclear weapons: He said on Saturday that he had struck a deal to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus. .
Belarus’ plan, while not unexpected, is one of Russia’s most explicit nuclear signals yet and a warning to NATO about its military support to Ukraine, which has called a UN Security Council meeting in response.
“Russia’s nuclear rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lunescu said on Sunday.
“NATO is vigilant and we are watching the situation closely. We have not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear status that would lead us to adjust our position.”
Putin likened his plan for Belarus to the United States placing its weapons in Europe, and insisted that Russia would not break its promises of nuclear non-proliferation.
However, Lungescu said Putin’s nonproliferation pledge and his description of US arms deployments abroad were far from reality.
“Russia’s reference to NATO’s nuclear involvement is completely misleading. NATO Allies act in full respect of their international obligations,” it added in a statement.
Russia has consistently reneged on its arms control commitments.
Ukraine’s security official, Oleksey Danilov, said Russia’s plan would destabilize Belarus, which he said Moscow had taken “hostage”.
Others condemning Putin’s plan included Lithuania, which said it would call for new sanctions against Moscow and Minsk, while EU policy chief Josep Borrell urged Belarus not to host the weapons and threatened more sanctions.
Belarus and Russia have close military ties, and Minsk allowed Moscow to use its territory as a launching pad for the latter’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
Experts believe that Russia’s step is important because it has so far been proud of not deploying nuclear weapons outside its borders, unlike the United States. This may be the first time since the mid-1990s that it plans to do so.
The United States played down its concerns about Russia’s planned deployment.
“I can tell you that we have seen nothing to suggest that Mr. Putin is preparing to use tactical nuclear weapons in any way in Ukraine,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CBC on Sunday.
“And I can also tell you that we haven’t seen anything that would cause us to change our strategic position on nuclear deterrence.”
Tactical nukes are those used to achieve specific gains on the battlefield, rather than those capable of wiping out cities. It is unclear how many of these weapons Russia has, as the subject is still shrouded in Cold War secrets.
On Sunday, Putin asserted that Western powers were building a new “axis” along the lines of the partnership between Germany and Japan during World War II, while he denied that Russia was building a military alliance with China.
This was a repetition of a theme that stood out in his depiction of the war as Moscow’s war against Ukraine in the supposed grip of the Nazis, instigated by Western powers threatening Russia. Ukraine rejects these arguments as false pretexts for a war of imperialist conquest.
Reporting by Dan Belichuk, Reuters Writing by Himani Sarkar and Philippa Fletcher Editing by Jerry Doyle, Clarence Fernandez and Peter Graff
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
“Travel specialist. Typical social media scholar. Friend of animals everywhere. Freelance zombie ninja. Twitter buff.”
North Korea attempts to launch a satellite; Warnings raised in South Korea, Japan
Protesting Indian wrestlers drown their medals in the Ganges
Zelensky’s aide says the Ukraine peace plan is the only way to end Russia’s war