Conflicts & War

Russia advancing in Donbas despite exhausting six months of fighting

Moscow/Lviv, Ukraine, Aug 14 (EFE).- The Russian army is advancing very slowly in the eastern Ukrainian area known as the Donbas just a few days before the six-month anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of the neighboring country and as the Kremlin is maintaining heavy military pressure on Kyiv.

“There is ferocious fighting in the Donbas,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily address.

The president added that fighting is taking place mainly around the towns of Avdiivka, Marinka, Pesky and Bakhmut, where Russia has deployed a “colossal amount” of military resources.

“Our defenders there are true heroes,” Zelenskyy said, adding that the situation in the south, where Russian troops control a portion of Ukrainian territory, includes some “good news,” referring to counterattacks by Kyiv’s forces on Russian positions.

“We’re not wasting a single day in reducing the (strength) of the occupiers,” he said.

Simultaneously, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereschuk, once again issued a call to residents of the southern Kherson region, where Russian forces control almost all the territory and which Kyiv is planning to retake in a counteroffensive, to evacuate the area before winter sets in.

According to the figures announced by the deputy premier, about 50 percent of the region’s residents have abandoned their homes since the start of the Russian invasion last Feb. 24.

According to the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russian forces are intensifying their operations in the Donbas to dissuade Kyiv from launching counterattacks in the south.

British intelligence also says that Russia possibly has been regrouping its forces in the south in recent days to strengthen their positions there.

Ukrainian media once again on Sunday released images of an alleged missile attack staged by Ukrainian forces on the Antonovsky Bridge in Kherson, one of the routes via which Russian forces receive supplies, but that report has not yet been officially confirmed.

The British military said in its daily report that the Russians are continuing their attacks in the Donetsk region, with especially intense fighting near the village of Pesky.

The Russian Defense Minister on Saturday claimed that it had “liberated” that village, located a few kilometers from the capital of Donetsk, but that report was denied by the Ukrainian military command, although it admitted that heavy fighting was going on in the area.

On Sunday, the Russian military command also said that Moscow’s troops were already in control of the village of Udy, in the Kharhiv region near the Russian border.

“As a result of offensive actions by Russian troops, the village of Udy, in the Kharhiv region, was completely liberated,” said Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov.

Official Ukrainian sources so far have not commented on that report.

Ukraine’s main negotiator and president advisor, Mikhaylo Podolyak, said he was convinced that peace will come to the area only when the Russian “occupation of the Crimean Peninsula” – which Moscow annexed in 2014 after a referendum whose results were not recognized either by the United States or the European Union – comes to an end.

“Russia began the war against Ukraine and the world in 2014 by brazenly taking Crimea. It is clear that the war must end with its liberation,” Podolyak wrote on his Twitter account.

He ruled out for the moment the resumption of peace talks with Russia because that, he said, would mean that Moscow has won.

According to Kyiv, its demands in the negotiations include, above all, of a cessation of hostilities and the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.

Podolyak, however, said he believes that the Russians don’t want to negotiate and, in any case, would use any “operational pause” to make adjustments in their military strategy and troop configurations in Ukraine.

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