Ukraine Repels New Russian Attacks, Leaving A Battlefront Stalemate
Ukraine said Thursday that it had repelled attempted Russian advances along the length of the front line of fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine, leaving the war in a stalemate a day ahead of the first anniversary of Moscow’s invasion.
Russia controls about a fifth of Ukrainian territory, far short of the quick, countrywide takeover many military analysts predicted a year ago as Moscow’s tanks rolled into Ukraine’s eastern flank.
In the most recent fighting, Moscow’s forces have made progress trying to encircle Bakhmut, with Ukrainian military spokesperson Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov saying Moscow was trying to use its manpower advantage to exhaust Kyiv’s forces.
“The enemy, despite significant losses, does not abandon attempts to surround Bakhmut,” he said.
But Ukraine said Russian troops have failed to break through Ukrainian lines to the north near Kreminna and to the south at Vuhledar, where they have sustained heavy losses assaulting across open ground.
Gromov said Ukrainian forces had repelled 90 Russian attacks in the northeast and east in the last day.
Ukraine said it had closed some schools for the war’s anniversary on Friday in anticipation that Moscow might launch long-range missile attacks to mark the date. But Ukrainian officials said they believed Moscow no longer had the capability for a dramatic show of force, as some had feared.
“Nothing unusual will happen. Usual [Russian] effort. … A small missile strike is planned,” military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov told the Ukrainska Pravda news website. “Believe me, we have experienced this more than 20 times.”
However, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine issued an alert to Americans in the country about the threat of missile attacks across Ukraine, including in Kyiv and the surrounding region.
The alert urged U.S. citizens “to observe air alarms, shelter appropriately, follow guidance from local authorities.”
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin touted his country’s nuclear arsenal, announcing plans to deploy new Sarmat multiwarhead intercontinental ballistic missiles this year. Earlier this week, he suspended Russia’s participation in the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the United States, the world’s last remaining such pact.
Russia would “pay increased attention to strengthening the nuclear triad,” Putin said in remarks released by the Kremlin, referring to nuclear missiles based on land, in the sea and in the air.
In New York, the U.N. General Assembly is expected to mark the invasion’s anniversary by approving a resolution demanding a halt to the fighting. Ukraine hopes to deepen Russia’s diplomatic isolation by winning votes from nearly three-quarters of the world’s countries. Moscow, which says the invasion was justified by threats to its security, says the text is biased.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday denounced the invasion as a violation of the U.N. Charter.
“We have heard implicit threats to use nuclear weapons. The so-called tactical use of nuclear weapons is utterly unacceptable. It is high time to step back from the brink,” Guterres said.
Meanwhile, Finland announced a $169 million aid package for Ukraine that includes three Leopard 2 tanks.
Finland’s defense ministry said in a statement that the tanks were equipped for de-mining, and that the aid package would include training for their use and maintenance.
The announcement came a day after Spain said it would send six of its own Leopard 2A4 tanks.
The German-made tanks are part of a wave of tanks being sent to Ukraine after Ukrainian officials requested them in order to better match up with Russian forces.
Germany initially resisted authorizing the transfers amid concerns about escalating the conflict but has told allies that have the tanks they are free to send them to Ukraine.