Overview:

  • Drone attacks level a home in Donetsk, one Russian civilian killed in Kursk region
  • Governor of Russia’s Leningrad region said a drone is responsible for airport-area blaze
  • Kyiv responds to Pope’s stance on the war, makes WWII comparisons
  • Moscow’s troops keep gaining territory, slowly, west from Bakhmut
  • Ukraine’s pull-back from Avdiivka area continues its power vacuum
  • Analysts say Russians opting for ATVs over tanks, as AFU blows us expensive vehicles

Rescuers pull bodies from rubble in Dobropillya

Local authorities in the Donesk region said two bodies were found under the rubble of a smashed residential building while another Ukrainian civilian was killed in a town closer to the fighting.

“Three people died as a result of today’s shelling in the Donetsk region,” regional administrative head Vadym Filashkin, posted on social media. As rescuers dug through the ruins of a home, Filashkin said, they pulled out two bodies in the town of Dobropillya, which he said Russia destroyed with Shahed drones.

Russian attacks on Sunday also killed a 66-year-old man in the village of Chasiv Yar, closer to the front lines, he said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian shelling was blamed for the death of a woman in the border town of Kulbaki, Russian regional officials announced on Sunday, describing an incident some six miles within the Russian side of the border, in the Kursk region. 

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“As a result of a direct hit from a shell, a residential building caught fire and a local woman died. Her husband had extensive burns and is now receiving qualified medical care,” Kursk governor Roman Starovoyt said. 

Smoke billows over St. Petersburg as flames engulf a hangar near airport

State news agency Ukrinform cited a post on Telegram which stated that an industrial building near the Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg was in flames after, local officials say, the hangar had been struck by a drone.

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Ukrinform reported that the building, referred to as a hangar in some reports, is located at 4 Volkhonskoye Shosse, in the Goryelovo metals and manufacturing district, and that billows of smoke could be seen from various parts of Russia’s second-largest city.

The Leningrad region’s governor said the airspace over the city was closed “due to a drone being shot down near the village of Fornosovo in the Tosno district,” Ukrinform reported. Local residents reportedly spotted explosions and fighter jets in the sky before the smoke plumes appeared.

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Foreign Minister, Holy See Ambassador rail against Pope’s suggestions of surrender

In a broadcast on Saturday from Rome, Pope Francis said of the war in Ukraine, “I believe that the strongest are those who see the situation, think about the people, and have the courage to raise the white flag and negotiate.”  

Kyiv didn’t exactly see it that way.

“Our flag is a yellow and blue one,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba shot back. “This is the flag by which we live, die, and prevail. We shall never raise any other flags.”

He went on to remind the pontiff publically about the historical relationship between the Vatican and Nazi Germany.

“At the same time, when it comes to the white flag, we know this Vatican strategy from the first half of the 20th century,” Kuleba said, and urged the Pope to “avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.”

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Andri Yurash, added: “If we want to finish the war, we have to do everything to kill the Dragon,” he posted.

Operations: Bakhmut front

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) cited geolocated footage from Sunday indicating that Russian forces recently advanced west of Bakhmut in eastern Ivanivske (west of Bakhmut).

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Some Russian military bloggers went so far as to say that Russian forces control 80 percent of Ivanivske and made marginal advances near Druzhba on the southwest outskirts, and within Bohdanivka (northwest of Bakhmut), but ISW said it has not observed any confirmation of these claims.

On the Bakhmut front, fighting also continues near Bohdanivka; east of Chasiv Yar; and southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka, Andriivka, Kurdyumivka and Shumy.

Operations: Avdiivka front

The ISW reported on Sunday that Russian forces recently advanced marginally northwest of Avdiivka near Berdychi and west of the recently captured city, in Orlivka, as the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) troops have pulled back from the area.

Geolocated footage published over the weekend appears to show that Russian forces advanced south of Berdychi and in western Orlivka, as fighting also continued southwest of Avdiikka near the long-contested settlements of Pervomaiske, Sjeverne, and Nevelske.

Units involved include elements of the Russian 24th Guards Spetsnaz Brigade (General Staff’s Main Intelligence Directorate [GRU]), especially near Berdychi. 

Also in the Donetsk region over the weekend, the Kremlin’s troops have crept forward recently southwest of Vuhledar in the western parts of the region. Geolocated footage published on Sunday indicates that the Russians have advanced northwest of Shevchenko (southwest of Vuhledar).

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Operations: Zaporizhzhia region

The ISW noted over the weekend that Russian troops, in the Zaporizhzhia region at least, seem to prefer light, unarmored vehicles over standard tanks, for example, perhaps because they are more expendable and easier to acquire.

Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Dmytro Lykhovyi said on Saturday that Russian forces are increasingly relying on off-road “buggies” and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to transport Russian infantry near Robotyne because Ukrainian forces are destroying standard Russian military vehicles.

“Russian forces may be experimenting with using such light unarmored vehicles due to their availability over Russian military vehicles that Ukrainian forces can readily destroy, and/or because such light vehicles are smaller than and have greater speed and mobility over standard military vehicles, making them more difficult for Ukrainian forces to target,” ISW analysts wrote.

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