What happened on day 95 of the war in Ukraine

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian soldiers, seeking to disperse Russian forces, launched a counteroffensive on Sunday in Kherson, the key so...


KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian soldiers, seeking to disperse Russian forces, launched a counteroffensive on Sunday in Kherson, the key southern city that Moscow considered so firmly under its control that it introduced the rouble.

Ukraine’s push into Kherson came as its forces struggled desperately to delay Russian efforts to conquer and cut off a strategic swath of eastern Ukraine that is at the heart of the ailing war effort of Moscow, and this had the effect of extending the field of battle.

The opening of the new front underscored that when it comes to territory in Ukraine, little is for good, as each side attempts to exploit the enemy’s shifting strategic vulnerabilities. This volatility promises to only increase as Ukraine receives more sophisticated long-range artillery, and soon perhaps US missiles.

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who appealed for the weapons, sought to boost morale by visiting the northeast of the country, near Kharkiv, which is still under shelling.

He praised the Ukrainian forces there for their success this month in repelling the Russians from the outskirts of the city and said in a speech on Sunday evening that “Kharkiv suffered terrible blows from the occupiers.”

The city, which endured months of shelling that killed scores of civilians and forced tens of thousands to flee, was hit again hours after Ukraine’s president left, according to Reuters. But in the long run, Mr. Zelensky said on Sunday evening, Russia will pay the price.

“Russia has already lost not only the battle for Kharkiv, not only the battle for Kyiv and the north of our country,” he said. “He lost his own future and all cultural connection with the free world. They all burned down.

Credit…Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/EPA, via Shutterstock

The announcement of the Ukrainian counter-offensive – “Wait, Kherson, we are coming!” the military said Sunday morning on Twitter – marked what could turn out to be a new chapter in a war that has political, economic and humanitarian significance far beyond Ukraine’s borders.

Kherson, a port city in the agricultural heartland of Ukraine, was the first major city to fall as Russian forces swept north across Crimea more than three months ago. After seizing it, Moscow used the city as a staging ground for operations in southern Ukraine.

But in recent weeks Russian forces – stretched and suffering heavy casualties as they gained ground in the eastern Donbass region – have focused their efforts in the south on fortifying defensive positions. Satellite images showed Russians rushing to build fortifications in Kherson, where shoots of an insurgency surfaced this month.

It was not clear if they were prepared for the Ukrainian counterattack.

Ukrainian army headquarters said in a statement that its forces broke through a Russian defense line and pushed the Russians into less favorable ground near the villages of Andriyivka, Lozove and Belihorka. The counter-offensive also aimed to threaten Russia’s supply routes on the bridges over the Dnipro River.

Ukraine had telegraphed the counteroffensive for days, although it said such a maneuver would require Western artillery systems promised by the United States and other allies. It was unclear on Sunday what artillery Ukraine was using in its counter-offensive.

In a war that is increasingly becoming an arms race, powerful American-made howitzers reaches Ukrainian forces this month, and Ukrainian troops recently received Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles from Denmark. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said they would be used to try to break the Russian blockade of the Black Sea and to protect the port city of Odessa.

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

The Biden Administration also approved send long-range multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine, a significant transfer that could greatly help its defense.

With all the hardware at its disposal, Ukraine seemed to send a message to Russia on Sunday that it won’t just play defense on a Russian-chosen battlefield. Instead, Ukraine appears to be redrawing the map to include places where diminished and hard-hit Russian forces have dug in defensive positions.

Russia, after spectacularly failing to capture Kyiv, the capital, and Kharkiv, the second-largest city, has focused its attention on the 75-mile eastern front line in the thin eastern region of Donbass. He devoted most of his forces to shelling eastern Ukraine and capture Sievierodonetsklast city under Ukrainian control in the Lugansk region, now at the heart of the conflict.

President Zelensky described conditions in Sievierodonetsk over the weekend as “indescribably difficult”. The Ukrainians call the road to the city from the west the “Road of Life”, as it is the only way to resupply their soldiers there. Russia sought to cut off this route, and social media posts of burned Russian armored vehicles on the highway said they did so at least briefly before being driven back.

Ukrainian military officials posted on Facebook late Sunday that Russia was “trying to gain a foothold in the northeastern outskirts of the city of Sievierodonetsk, conducting assault operations in the direction of the city center.”

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Russia used long-range artillery to subdue targeted towns from a distance before encircling and munching into territory.

Russia has thermobaric warheads, a fearsome conventional weapon nicknamed Heatwave, which sends shock waves through bunkers and trenches. He also claimed to have successfully tested a Zircon hypersonic cruise missile of the Barents Sea on a target more than 620 miles away. Hypersonic weapons, generally defined as those capable of flying at speeds greater than Mach 5 – five times the speed of sound – are at the center of an arms race between the United States, Russia and China.

As the tactics, targets and weaponry in conflict change, one constant is the human toll. The Ukrainian army said sunday that Moscow had ordered Crimean hospitals to stop treating civilians and instead treat wounded soldiers. The claim could not be independently verified.

Amid the loss of life and the destruction of civil society, European leaders are again calling for a ceasefire.

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin said in a statement from the Kremlin that he was “open to resuming dialogue with Kyiv”.

The statement describes a call he had on Saturday with the leaders of France and Germany. According to the Kremlin, Mr Putin said Western arms supplies could lead to “further destabilization of the situation”, and he renewed his demand that the West lift sanctions against Russia to facilitate the export of weapons. food and fertilizer.

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said any resolution to the war must be negotiated between Moscow and Kyiv “with respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, according to a statement from the office. of the French presidency.

But Mykhaylo Podolyak, aide to the Ukrainian president and envoy to peace talks held earlier in the three-month conflict, said in a post on telegram over the weekend that Russia simply could not be trusted.

“Any deal with Russia is not worth a broken penny,” Mr. Podolyak wrote. Until Russian troops withdraw from Ukraine, he said, “negotiations are being conducted by a separate frontline ‘delegation’.”



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Newsrust - US Top News: What happened on day 95 of the war in Ukraine
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