Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Monday that Ukraine’s forces have retaken eight settlements during the past two weeks, including Piatykhatky in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Since the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive aimed at reclaiming control of areas seized by Russian forces, Maliar said Ukraine had freed 113 square kilometers of territory.
Ukrainian soldiers held up yellow and blue national flags in a video posted on social media, saying they were inside Piatykhatky. The settlement is close to one of the most heavily fortified Russian positions in the south.
Separately, the Russian-backed head of part of Ukraine’s Donetsk region controlled by Moscow’s forces, Denis Pushilin, said Monday that Ukrainian shelling killed a six-year-old girl and injured 20 civilians in the town of Volnovakha.
The Reuters news agency could not verify his assertions, and there was no immediate comment from Ukraine on Pushilin’s allegations.
Earlier, Russian officials said shelling in Russia’s Belgorod region, located next to the border with Ukraine, injured seven civilians and damaged several residential buildings. Another Russian official alleged Ukrainian shelling hit two villages in the Kursk region.
Reuters could not verify these reports.
Britain’s defense ministry said in its latest assessment Monday that Russia has “highly likely” redeployed thousands of troops from the eastern banks of the Dnipro River to serve as reinforcements to Russian forces in the Bakhmut and Zaporizhzhia areas. The defense ministry said the move “likely reflects Russia’s perception that a major Ukrainian attack across the Dnipro is now less likely following the collapse of the Kakhovka dam and the resulting flooding.”
Ukraine is seeking $40 billion in funding for the first phase of a “Green Marshall Plan” to repair its economy. During a two-day meeting in London starting Wednesday, politicians and investors will discuss Ukraine’s short-term and long-term economic reconstruction which includes developing a coal-free iron and steel industry. The deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, Rostyslav Shurma, told Reuters, “If you have to rebuild, it is logical to rebuild green in line with new technologies. … Our vision is to build a 50 million tons green steel industry in Ukraine,” he said.
Doing so could allow the country to become the world’s cheapest supplier of so-called “green” steel — made without the use of fossil fuels — and a major support to Europe’s efforts to decarbonize, driven by an investment push in new wind, solar, nuclear and hydro power, Reuters reports.
According to the World Bank, Ukraine’s reconstruction will cost upward of $400 billion, three times the country’s gross domestic product. Since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, external backers have poured $59 billion into Ukraine to support it during the war.
One of the issues expected to be discussed during the two-day Ukraine Recovery Conference is whether the estimated $300 billion of frozen Russian central bank reserves will go to Ukraine.
Britain Monday introduced legislation that will allow it to keep sanctions against Russia in place until Moscow pays compensation for the cost of its invasion on Ukraine.
“Ukraine’s reconstruction needs are – and will be – immense,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said. “Through our new measures today, we’re strengthening the UK’s sanctions approach, affirming that the UK is prepared to use sanctions to ensure Russia pays to repair the country it has so recklessly attacked.”
U.S. lawmakers from both the Republican and the Democratic parties introduced a bill Thursday that would make it easier for Ukraine to fund its fight against Russia by using seized and frozen Russian assets.
The Kremlin said Monday that Russia’s decision to decline U.N. help in areas of Russian-held Ukraine flooded by the Kakhovka dam breach was because of security concerns.
“There is constant shelling there, constant provocations, civilian objects and people are being shelled, people are dying,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
The United Nations reported Sunday that Moscow declined its requests to help residents affected by the dam collapse and pledged to continue engaging to seek the necessary access.
“We urge the Russian authorities to act in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law,” the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, Denise Brown, said Sunday in statement.
“Aid cannot be denied to people who need it. The U.N. will continue to do all it can to reach all people — including those suffering as a result of the recent dam destruction — who urgently need life-saving assistance, no matter where they are,” she noted.
So far, more than a dozen people have died while 31 are still missing after the floods caused by the dam’s destruction, Ukraine’s interior ministry said. Almost 900 homes remain under water and more than 3,600 people have been evacuated.
“The most likely cause of the collapse” of Ukraine’s Kakhovka dam, according to a New York Times report, was the placement of an explosive in the structure’s passageway or gallery, that the publication said, “runs through the concrete heart of the structure.”
The Times’ assessment was based on the expertise of “two American engineers, an expert in explosives and a Ukrainian engineer with extensive experience with the dam’s operations.”