Overview:

  • Explosions reported near Kerch Bridge
  • Latvia demands return of Ukrainian children; Putin offers one-time $1K for their care
  • Blinken says Kremlin has failed in Putin's maximalist agenda but still must be deterred
  • AFU repelled over 30 Russian attacks on the Dnipro left bank
  • Russia has small gains near Donetsk and Bakhmut

Kerch Bridge area under attack, AFU says

Local Crimean residents on social media reported on Thursday that the Kerch bridge connecting continental Russia and occupied territories in Ukraine was under attack.

“Four explosions rang out in Kerch, the Crimea Bridge is closed, and smoke is rising in the area of the Industrial Highway,” the post on Telegram says.

The Telegram channel published a photo, allegedly shot at the scene of the incident.

Earlier in the day, state media outlet Ukrinform reported that the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) “attacked a strategic facility that is part of the invaders’ air defense network in Crimea.”

Latvia calls for abducted Ukrainian children to be returned home

The Latvian parliament adopted a declaration calling for the return to Ukraine of all children illegally displaced to Russia and Belarus, Ukraine’s parliamentary spokespersons announced on Thursday.

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The United Nations' attention has recently focused on Moscow’s “heinous crimes” of abducting Ukrainian children during the war. One such story was the gut-turning report of 15-year-old Arina Yatsiuk’s kidnapping and death, whose story has become something of a cause celèbre among discussions about many such Russian atrocities.

According to state news service Ukrinform, Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Olena Kondratiuk, personally requested the adoption of just such a resolution during her recent working meeting in the Latvian capital, Riga.

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“The Parliament of Latvia strongly condemned the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children to the Russian Federation and Belarus. And it also supported the International Criminal Court's investigation into the persons responsible for these crimes,” Kondratiuk said, Ukrinform reported.

In the meantime, Putin signed a decree on Thursday “on measures of social support for families with children affected by the aggression of Ukraine,” essentially expanding Russian control over occupied areas of Ukraine and including a key provision that “further formalizes an existing set of deportation schemes under medical pretexts,” the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) analysts wrote.

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“The decree holds that the guardians of children who were under the age of 18 after February 2022 and suffered an injury while living in occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson [regions] are eligible to receive a one-time 100,000-ruble ($1,076) compensation payment. The financial support provision codifies social control of occupied areas of Ukraine in a threefold way—first, by generating financial dependence on Russian authorities for social support payments; second, by collecting personal information on Ukrainian children and their guardians; and finally, by framing the Ukrainian military as dangerous to Ukrainian civilians in a way that propagates a negative view of the Ukrainian state.”

US State Dept says Russia has “failed to erase Ukraine from the map, subsume it into Russia

The non-profit ISW on Thursday put forth the notion that the “failure of Russian operations in Ukraine to achieve Russian President Vladimir Putin’s maximalist objectives thus far is not a permanent condition, and only continued Western support for Ukraine can ensure that Putin’s maximalist objectives remain unattainable,” while his further goals “do not preclude further conquests,” in the think-tank’s estimation.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated on Wednesday that Putin has already failed to achieve his principal objective of “erasing [Ukraine] from the map and subsuming it into Russia.”

Putin, meanwhile, has re-emphasized that his goals in Ukraine remain unchanged, and senior Kremlin officials have increasingly expressed expansionist rhetoric indicating that these objectives “do not preclude further Russian territorial conquests in Ukraine.”

Operations: Bakhmut

According to online reports compiled by the ISW, Russian forces recently made confirmed gains near Bakhmut. Geolocated footage published on Wednesday indicates that Moscow’s troops advanced along a section of the railway line east of Klishchiivka (southwest of Bakhmut).

 

One Kremlin-affiliated military blogger claimed that Russian forces pushed AFU forces out of positions near Bohdanivka (northwest of Bakhmut) and west of Klishchiivka. Ukrainian and Russian sources both stated on Thursday that fighting occurred on Bakhmut’s northwestern and southwestern flanks near Andriivka.

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Operations: Dnipro River

On the contested left bank of the Dnipro River on Thursday, both Ukrainian military observers and Russian military bloggers claimed that fighting continued near and in Krynky, with one blogger claiming that Russian forces advanced towards the center of town.

Ukrainian officials reported that AFU forces repelled at least 30 Russian attempts to dislodge defenders from positions on the left bank in the past day.

Another Ukrainian military observer reported that elements of the Russian 47th Motorized Rifle Division (18th Combined Arms Army) and the Russian 328th and 337th Airborne (VDV) Regiments (both of the 104th VDV Division) participated in unsuccessful Russian assaults near Krynky, while a Russian blogger claimed that elements of the Convoy private military company (PMC) are also operating near the AFU riverfront stronghold.

Operations: Donetsk

Russian forces made confirmed gains southwest of the city of Donetsk on Thursday, the ISW reported, as battles continued west and southwest of the regional capital. Geolocated footage published on Thursday indicates that Russian forces advanced south of Novomykhailivka (southwest of Donetsk) as Russian military bloggers claimed that elements of the Russian “Kaskad” Operational Tactical Combat Formation advanced in the area.

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