Ukraine said Wednesday, Oct.12, it reclaimed more territory from Russia in the south, while welcoming the delivery of Western air defence systems that Kyiv said would usher in a “new era” after mass strikes from Moscow.
Russia for two days pummelled Ukraine with missiles, damaging energy facilities nationwide, in attacks that President Vladimir Putin said were retaliation for a deadly explosion at the Crimea bridge.
Russia’s FSB security service said Wednesday it detained eight suspects over the blast that ripped through the road and rail bridge connecting Crimea to Russia.
But it also claimed to have foiled two more attacks that Ukrainian special services allegedly planned to carry out on Russian territory.
Putin has vowed a “severe” response to any further attack on Russia and what Moscow considers to be its territory, including the Crimea peninsula that it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Kyiv has neither confirmed nor denied it attacked the bridge, a vital transport link but also a matter of pride for Putin, who personally inaugurated the structure in 2018.
Despite warnings from the Kremlin, Kyiv has vowed to retake the peninsula as well as four regions in Ukraine’s east and south that Moscow says are now part of Russia.
Kyiv said Wednesday that it had retaken five more settlements in the southern region of Kherson — one of the four territories Moscow said it annexed in late September — in the latest setback for Russia’s campaign.
“Ukrainian armed forces have liberated five more settlements in Beryslav district (of Kherson region): Novovasylivka, Novogrygorivka, Nova Kamyanka, Tryfonivka, Chervone,” the presidency said in its daily report.
It added, however, that Russian forces were striking back and had continued shelling Ukraine’s positions “along the entire contact line”.
The Ukrainian army announced its counteroffensive in the south in late August.
After regaining almost full control of the northeastern region of Kharkiv, the Ukrainian forces recently claimed more gains on the eastern and southern fronts.
Faced with mounting setbacks since September, the Russian president announced the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of reservists to join the fighting in Ukraine.
With the Crimea bridge blast, Russia also lost a vital transport link for moving military equipment for Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he believes his Russian counterpart had “miscalculated” the situation in Ukraine and underestimated the ferocity of Ukrainian defiance.
“I think… he thought he was going to be welcomed with open arms, that this was the home of Mother Russia in Kyiv, and that where he was going to be welcomed, and I think he just totally miscalculated,” Biden told CNN in a rare televised interview.
Mass graves discovered
After two days of Russian nationwide strikes that especially targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, leaving villages and towns without power and hot water, Ukraine said it has started receiving anti-aircraft defence systems from its Western allies.
“A new era of air defence has begun in Ukraine,” Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Twitter, announcing the arrival of Germany’s Iris-Ts and the upcoming delivery of NASAMS from Washington.
“This is only the beginning,” Reznikov added, “And we need more… There is a moral imperative to protect the sky over Ukraine in order to save our people”.
On Tuesday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the G7 club of wealthy nations to help Kyiv create an “air shield”, warning that Russia “still has room for further escalation.
Ukrainian officials announced Tuesday the recovery of the remains of dozens of civilians found at mass burial sites in two towns in the eastern Donetsk region recently recaptured from Moscow’s forces.
In Lyman, a railway hub retaken by Ukraine in early October, a forensic team dressed in protective gear was exhuming dozens of bodies, an AFP journalist saw.
“We have already found more than 50 bodies of both soldiers and civilians. We have one long trench — a mass grave — where we discovered bodies and body parts,” regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
Russian forces have been accused of numerous abuses — torture, rape, extrajudicial executions — in Ukraine, claims Moscow has repeatedly denied.
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