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Russia-Ukraine war live: both sides face major challenge in bid to break through enemy lines, says UK | Russia

Both sides face major challenge in bid to make gains, says UK

Ukrainian forces have continued their advance in the south along the course of the Mokri Yaly river, securing the village of Urozhaine in the face of stiff Russian resistance, according to the UK Ministry of Defence’s latest intelligence report.

However, the MoD added, both sides are struggling to make significant gains in the face of strong, established defensive positions.

In the north, Russian forces have continued probing attacks in the Kupiansk area but achieved no significant advances.

Across the front, both sides confront a similar challenge: attempting to defeat well-entrenched forces while having limited uncommitted forces to open new assaults.

Key events

Ivan Nesterov, a well-built fitness trainer, came back to Russia six months after fleeing the mobilisation that propped up Russian forces fighting in Ukraine last year, AFP reports.

He is among the many Russian men who left the country to avoid being sent to the frontlines who have returned, despite the lingering threat of a new draft.

“When I landed back in Moscow, I felt incredibly relieved, no matter what the consequences might be,” the 35-year-old said.

He left a few days after the Kremlin announced a mobilisation in September last year, “feeling a mix of emotions including panic”.

As flights out of Russia quickly sold out, he found a seat on a plane to the Ural mountains before taking a bus to Siberia and driving to Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic that Russians could enter without a visa.

Ivan Nesterov in Moscow on 8 August. Photograph: Alexander Utkin/AFP/Getty Images

When Nesterov finally crossed the border into Kazakhstan, he said the very first emotion he felt was freedom, recalling thinking: “I can say openly anything that I think and I will not be imprisoned for it.”

Nesterov, who never dared to join an opposition demonstration or write critical posts on social media, saw his departure as an alternative way to protest.

He decided to come back to Russia at the beginning of April, having fallen into a deep depression, missing his friends and “homeland”.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s president, visited Sweden on Saturday, saying he was there to meet with Ulf Kristersson, Sweden’s prime minister, the royal family and other officials to thank them for supporting Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.

He wrote in a Telegram post:

Our primary task is the strengthening of Ukrainian warriors on the ground and in the sky, the development of bilateral cooperation, in particular in the defence industry, Ukraine’s European integration and common security in the Euro-Atlantic space.

Olena and I arrived in Sweden.

There will be talks with @SwedishPM, the Royal Family, @Andreasostgote and @Sverigesriksdag parties.

Partnership, defense cooperation, EU integration, and common Euro-Atlantic security.@ZelenskaUA and I thank all Swedes who support Ukraine ????

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) August 19, 2023

We reported earlier on the 15 Russian drones shot down over Ukraine overnight.

Other drones, however, found their way through.

Reuters reports that the deputy governor of the western Khmelnytskyi region said two people were wounded and dozens of buildings damaged.

Officials in the central Zhytomyr region were still assessing the damage there after Russian forces targeted an unspecified infrastructure facility, the governor, Vitaliy Bunechko, reported.

There were no other immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Russia has consistently attacked Ukrainian settlements far from the battlefield with drones and missiles since it launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Here are some of the latest images coming out of Ukraine:

Ukrainian soldiers take part in a military training in Donetsk oblast.
Ukrainian soldiers take part in a military training in Donetsk oblast. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A woman walks through a square in Melitopol, Russian-controlled Ukraine.
A woman walks through a square in Melitopol, Russian-controlled Ukraine. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters
A member of the state emergency service of Ukraine collects unexploded ammunition during a clearance patrol near the village of Zolochiv, Kharkiv region.
A member of the state emergency service of Ukraine collects unexploded ammunition during a clearance patrol near the village of Zolochiv, Kharkiv region. Photograph: Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images
A local resident standing in the aftermath of a Russian strike near his home in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region.
A local resident standing in the aftermath of a Russian strike near his home in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region. Photograph: LIBKOS/AP

The number of battlefield casualties in Ukraine is approaching nearly 500,000 Russian and Ukrainian soldiers, US officials have told the New York Times, marking a significant rise in the death toll this year after intense fighting in the east of the country.

Russia’s military casualties are approaching 300,000, the officials claimed, with as many as 120,000 killed in action. Ukraine was said to have close to 70,000 killed and 100,000-120,000 wounded.

Fierce fighting near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine have led to significant casualties on both sides, more than doubling the number of dead since November.

For more on this story:

Russian women say they are living in as fear convicted murderers who were freed to fight in Ukraine return from the war.

Vera Pekhteleva was murdered by her ex-boyfriend Vladislav Kanyus in 2020, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Nine months later, Pekhteleva’s mother received two photographs from an anonymous account on WhatsApp. They showed a man in military fatigues and were accompanied by a message: “Kanyus is free, and fighting in Ukraine.”

Vera Pekhteleva
Vera Pekhteleva suffered horrific injuries after being tortured by ex-boyfriend Vladislav Kanyu.

Kanyus, it seemed, was one of tens of thousands of Russian prisoners freed early to fight in Ukraine. The vast majority ended up fighting for Wagner group, the private army run by Yevgeny Prigozhin.

As part of the deal, convicts were told that if they fought for six months and survived, they would be allowed to go back to normal life without serving the rest of their sentences.

For more on this story:

Ukraine says air force shot down 15 Russian drones

Kyiv’s air force says it shot down 15 Russian drones during an overnight attack, AFP reports.

Ukraine says 17 Iranian-made Shahed drones were used in the aerial assault, but did not specify what happened to the other two.

Russian forces “attacked from the north with ‘Shahed-136/131’ attack UAVs. A total of 17 attack drones were launched from the Kursk region”, the Ukrainian force said on Telegram.

It added that air defences were activated in “northern and central, as well as in the western regions”.

Fifteen enemy drones were destroyed by the forces and means of the air force in cooperation with the air defence systems of other components of the Defence Forces of Ukraine.

Both sides in the conflict have recently reported regular drone incursions by air and sea, as Ukraine enacts a counteroffensive aimed at reclaiming Russian-held territory.

Both sides face major challenge in bid to make gains, says UK

Ukrainian forces have continued their advance in the south along the course of the Mokri Yaly river, securing the village of Urozhaine in the face of stiff Russian resistance, according to the UK Ministry of Defence’s latest intelligence report.

However, the MoD added, both sides are struggling to make significant gains in the face of strong, established defensive positions.

In the north, Russian forces have continued probing attacks in the Kupiansk area but achieved no significant advances.

Across the front, both sides confront a similar challenge: attempting to defeat well-entrenched forces while having limited uncommitted forces to open new assaults.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow’s possession of nuclear weapons protects the country from external security threats, while reminding the west of the risks of a nuclear conflict, Reuters reports.

Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Photograph: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

In an interview for state-owned magazine The International Affairs, Lavrov said:

The possession of nuclear arms is today the only possible response to some of significant external threats to security of our country.

Lavrov warned the US and Nato allies risk ending up in “a situation of direct armed confrontation of nuclear powers”.

We believe such a development should be prevented. That’s why we have to remind about the existence of high military and political risks and send sobering signals to our opponents.

US president Joe Biden has called a threat of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons “real”, while Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said this week that the military alliance has not detected any changes to Russia’s nuclear forces.

Ukraine’s air force says Russia launched 17 drones overnight attempting to strike Ukraine’s northern, central and western regions, Reuters reports.

The air force said 15 of the Iranian-made Shahed drones were shot down. It was unclear what happened to the two drones that were not downed.

The reports could not be independently verified and it was not immediately known what objects and areas Russia targeted in its strikes.

More details to come.

Putin meets with military commanders in Rostov-on-Don

Russian president Vladimir Putin has visited the commander of Russia’s operation in Ukraine and other top military officials in the city of Rostov-on-Don, Reuters reports.

The Kremlin said Putin listened to reports from Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the army in charge of Moscow’s operations in Ukraine, and other top military commanders and officers.

Vladimir Putin held a meeting at the headquarters of the special military operation group in Rostov-on-Don.

The statement did not include any additional details of the meeting and it was not clear when it took place.

Videos published by the RIA state news agency showed Gerasimov greeting Putin in what appeared to be night-time and leading him into a building after a brief handshake.

The meeting comes after Ukraine claimed counteroffensive gains on the south-eastern front, saying it liberated the small village of Urozhaine in the Donetsk region.

Opening summary

Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine, I’m Yang Tian bringing you the latest news.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has met high-ranking military commanders at the headquarters of its Ukraine operation in the city of Rostov-on-Don, state media RIA news agency said.

Overnight, Russia’s defence ministry said its air force shot down a Ukraine-launched missile over the Crimean peninsula. There were no casualties or damages reported.

More details to come, in other recent developments:

  • Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow’s possession of nuclear weapons protects the country from external security threats, while reminding the west of the risks of a nuclear conflict. “The possession of nuclear arms is today the only possible response to some of significant external threats to security of our country,” Lavrov said in an interview for state-owned magazine The International Affairs. Lavrov warned the US and Nato allies risk ending up in “a situation of direct armed confrontation of nuclear powers”. “We believe such a development should be prevented. That’s why we have to remind about the existence of high military and political risks and send sobering signals to our opponents,” Lavrov said.

  • The number of battlefield casualties in Ukraine is approaching nearly 500,000 Russian and Ukrainian soldiers, US officials have told the New York Times, marking a significant rise in the death toll this year after intense fighting in the east of the country. Russia’s military casualties are approaching 300,000, the officials claimed, with as many as 120,000 killed in action. Ukraine was said to have close to 70,000 killed and 100,000-120,000 wounded. Fierce fighting near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine have led to significant casualties on both sides, more than doubling the number of dead since November.

  • Ukrainian forces could fail to retake the Russian-occupied strategic south-eastern city of Melitopol during their counteroffensive, a US official said. Melitopol has been under Russian control since March 2022 and has roads and railways used by its troops to transport supplies to areas they occupy. The US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, was citing an intelligence report, but the prediction is largely in line with Washington’s view that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is progressing slower than expected. The official added that despite the report and limited progress towards Melitopol, the US believed it was still possible to change the gloomy outlook.

  • One person was killed and two injured as a result of Russian shelling of a village near the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, according to the prosecutor general’s office said. Some private houses were damaged in the attack, but no further details were provided. In a separate case, four people were injured after Russia shelled a residential area of the city of Chasiv Yar, located in the Donetsk region close to Bakhmut.

  • Russia is continuing its crackdown against critics at home and abroad, with authorities shut down prominent rights group the Sakharov Centre, saying it had illegally hosted conferences and exhibitions. Critics say the group is the latest target of the Kremlin’s battle against liberal-leaning organisations that challenge the state. Separately, a Russian court has placed the co-chair of independent election monitoring group Golos in pre-trial detention until at least 17 October. The ruling comes as Russia gears up for regional elections next month. Moscow also announced sanctions against international criminal court prosecutor Karim Khan, who in March issued a warrant against Putin accusing him of having “illegally deported” thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.

  • Kyiv has welcomed a US decision to let Denmark and the Netherlands hand F-16 fighter jets over to Ukraine once its pilots are trained to use them. A US official confirmed Denmark and the Netherlands had been given “formal assurances” for the jet transfer. Training by an 11-nation coalition is to begin this month, and officials hope pilots will be ready by early 2024. Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov hailed “great news from our friends in the United States”.

  • Russian forces have destroyed Ukrainian drones targeting Moscow and its Black Sea fleet. Russia’s defence ministry said its air force had downed a Ukrainian drone over the capital early Friday morning. Footage showed damage to an expo centre on the Krasnopresnenskaya embankment of the Moskva River, 100 metres from Moscow city.

  • Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal hailed “important and constructive” talks on grain exports with his Romanian counterpart Marcel Ciolacu during a visit to Bucharest. Ciolacu said Romania wanted to double the amount of Ukrainian grain transiting his country to 4m tonnes. The talks came a day after the first civilian cargo ship sailed through the Black Sea from Ukraine to Istanbul in defiance of a Russian blockade.



https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2023/aug/19/russia-ukraine-war-live-putin-meets-military-leaders-in-rostov-on-don-russia-says-it-downed-ukrainian-missile-over-crimea Russia-Ukraine war live: both sides face major challenge in bid to break through enemy lines, says UK | Russia

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