Ukraine claimed on Wednesday the conquest of several Russian-occupied cities in the south of the country and celebrated the arrival of a new air defense system after suffering two days of intense bombing.
The country received a hail of missiles, rockets and drones. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, this is retaliation for the explosives attack on the Crimea bridge, which connects this peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014 to Russian territory.
The Russian security service (FSB) announced on Wednesday the arrest of eight people suspected of participating in the organization of this attack, which it said was planned by Ukrainian intelligence.
The FSB also claimed to have thwarted two attempted attacks prepared by Kiev in the Moscow region and in Bryansk, near the Ukrainian border.
A camera on the dashboard of a vehicle captured the moment when an explosion hit the city of Dnipro, Ukraine.
The Ukrainian authorities did not confirm or deny being involved in the bridge explosionbut they never hid their intention to recover Crimea and the rest of the territories occupied by Russia since the beginning of the war in February.
For his part, Putin has promised a “firm” response to any new attack on Russian territory, which Moscow says includes the Crimean peninsula and four other Ukrainian regions annexed in September.
In one of the regions occupied by the Russians, Kherson, the Ukrainian presidency announced the recovery of five more cities in its counteroffensive launched in September in the south and east of the country.
“Ukrainian armed forces liberated five more towns in the Berislav district of the Kherson region: Novovasylivka, Novogrygorivka, Nova Kamyanka, Tryfonivka, Chervone”, announced the presidency, noting, however, that Russian artillery resists.
Firefighters try to put out a fire after a Russian missile attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine (Photo: State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS)
Since September, Ukrainian forces have made significant gains on the front lines thanks to a counter-offensive that prompted Putin to order the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of reservists.
US President Joe Biden said Tuesday that his Russian counterpart had “miscalculated” his army’s ability to conquer Ukraine and the resistance it would encounter.
On the diplomatic front, ahead of a meeting between President Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday in Kazakhstan, the Kremlin said on Wednesday it hoped Ankara would present an “official” mediation proposal.
“The Turks propose mediation. In case of negotiations, they will probably take place on their territory: in Istanbul or Ankara,” said Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov.
And the European Union has agreed to organize a broad military mission to train Ukrainian forces in several member states of the bloc. The measure could affect 15,000 troops, according to diplomatic sources.
The last two days of Russian bombing, which left at least 19 dead, more than 100 injured and significant damage to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, have prompted Western countries to accelerate the deployment of air defense systems, long claimed by Kiev.
On Tuesday night, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov announced the receipt of the first German Iris-T defense system and the soon arrival of American NASAMS systems.
France, for its part, said it would deliver radar and air defense systems to Ukraine in the coming weeks, in particular to help Ukraine protect itself against drone attacks, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday.
Speaking in a televised interview, Macron did not elaborate on what kind of anti-aircraft missiles or how many would be delivered. Paris has already supplied portable Mistral anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.
“A new era of air defense has begun in Ukraine,” tweeted Minister Reznikov. “This is just the beginning. We need more,” he added.
Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the UN General Assembly on September 21, 2022 – Photo: Reproduction
On Tuesday, in a virtual meeting with G7 leaders, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for help in creating an “anti-aircraft shield” and warned that Russia still had “means to step up its offensive”.
Ahead of a NATO meeting on Wednesday, its secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said that “the highest priority [da reunião] will be a greater air defense for Ukraine”.
Explosion of glass bridge in Kiev — Photo: g1
In addition to damaging power infrastructure, Russian bombings hit the center of Kiev, destroying a children’s playground, a bridge and a pedestrian zone. The Ukrainian capital has not received attacks since late June.
In the east, a Russian attack on a market in the town of Avdiivka, near the front line, killed at least seven people, announced the Ukrainian governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko.
“At least 7 dead and 8 wounded after a morning bombing in Avdiivka. The Russians attacked the central market, where many people were at that time,” he explained on Telegram.
Also in the east, Ukrainian authorities reported the discovery of two new mass graves in recently reclaimed towns in the Donetsk region.
In Lyman, a railway junction recaptured earlier this month, a forensic team exhumed dozens of bodies, an AFP journalist confirmed.
“We have already found more than 50 bodies of soldiers and civilians. We have a long ditch, a mass grave, where we discovered bodies and body parts,” said Pavlo Kirilenko, the governor of the region.
Russia was accused of numerous atrocities in the occupied regions that were later retaken by Kiev. Moscow has consistently denied the involvement of its soldiers in these events.