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January 30, 2023 4:24 pm

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Mapping Ukraine’s counteroffensive

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“Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst are not as scary and deadly for us as your ‘friendship and brotherhood’.”

These were the words of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Russia six days after September 6, when Ukraine began its surprising counteroffensive in Kharkiv.

Since the pushback began, Ukraine has recaptured strategically important hubs on the eastern and southern axes.

On September 12, Zelenskyy announced that Ukraine had regained about 6,000 square kilometres (2,320 square miles) of territory – a sliver of the country’s landmass of more than 600,000sq km (232,000sq miles), of which less than a fifth is currently under Russian occupation.

This has pushed the front lines further to the east and, in turn, reversed months of Russian territorial gains within a matter of weeks.

INTERACTIVE - WHO CONTROLS WHAT IN UKRAINE 226 - counteroffensive[Al Jazeera]

For the first time since the invasion began, pro-Kremlin public figures, media and military bloggers are criticising Putin’s war strategy.

And Ukrainian officials say they remain committed to the counteroffensive, even after a sharp escalation this month with heavy Russian air raids on cities across Ukraine in apparent retaliation for a blast on a bridge of strategic value to Moscow’s troops.

Putin has blamed Ukraine for destroying part of the Kerch Strait Bridge linking Russia to Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, but Kyiv has not directly claimed responsibility for the explosion.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has been pushing for more advanced weaponry from its Western allies to help its forces keep fighting.

Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov was asked by reporters what he expected from NATO as he arrived for a meeting on October 12 in Brussels.

“Air defence systems,” he said, and walked away.

Eastern Axis

Kharkiv 

Ukraine’s counteroffensive in Kharkiv began on September 6, with Kyiv’s forces recapturing more than 3,000sq km (1,160sq miles)  of territory in less than a week, according to Deputy Minister of Defence, Hanna Malyar.

Large enclaves of Kharkiv had been occupied by Russia from the onset of the invasion on February 24 with strategically important towns like Izyum falling in late March.

But ultimately, Kyiv benefitted from a weaker presence of Russian fighters in the east because Moscow had redeployed forces to Donetsk and the southern axis in response to a Ukrainian offensive in Kherson. In the weeks following, Kyiv regained more territory south of Kharkiv.

INTERACTIVE - KHARKIV COUNTEROFFENSIVE

Izyum

Ukrainian forces recaptured Izyum in eastern Ukraine on September 12 – its most significant military success since the Battle of Kyiv in March, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

This dealt a severe blow to Russia, weakening Moscow’s ability to carry out artillery attacks since the town was a significant hub for targeting the Donetsk region.

After the Russian retreat, mass graves and torture chambers were found by Ukrainian forces. The Ukrainian General Staff shared images on September 16 of a mass burial site that was said to hold more than 400 bodies, including remains of women and children.

It was a reminder of the alleged Russian brutality in Bucha discovered in March, where authorities said they found more than 450 bodies in mass graves.

“Russia leaves death everywhere and must be held accountable for it,” Zelenskyy said after the grim discoveries.

Forensic technicians dig at the site of a mass grave in a forest on the outskirts of IzyumForensic technicians dig at the site of a mass grave in a forest on the outskirts of Izyum, eastern Ukraine on September 18, 2022 [Juan Barreto/AFP]

Lyman 

Ukrainian forces recaptured Lyman, in Donetsk, in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region on October 2 after four months of occupation. Moscow was using Lyman as a crucial railway junction to resupply troops.

According to the ISW, Russian fighters – even in the most highly trained units like those posted to Lyman – suffer from war fatigue and Kremlin sources and military bloggers are attributing the defeat to army failures to sufficiently supply and reinforce troops in the Donbas region.

Similar to Kharkiv, Ukrainian authorities claimed to have found a mass grave in Lyman on October 7, with Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko saying it was unclear how many bodies were buried.

Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram on October 7  that “there could be both soldiers and civilians” in the mass graves.

A view of graves, which Ukrainian officials say, is a civilian mass grave, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in the newly recaptured town of Lyman, Donetsk region, Ukraine, October 11, 2022. REUTERS/Zohra BensemraA view of graves in the newly recaptured town of Lyman, Donetsk region, Ukraine, October 11, 2022 [Zohra Bensemra/Reuters]

Southern Axis

Kherson

According to Ukrainian southern military command spokesperson, Natalia Humeniuk, Ukraine has recaptured more than 1,170sq km (450sq miles) of territory in the southern region of Kherson since late August, when it launched its southern counteroffensive. In comparison with its swift advances around Kharkiv, attacks on the southern axis have been more laboured.

A flat, agricultural region, Kherson produces 10 percent of Ukraine’s millet, 8 percent of its soybeans and 6 percent of its barley and is a key economic and strategic region for Ukraine. It also became a strategically significant region for Russia given its proximity to Crimea and Russian territorial losses there are likely to threaten its supply lines.

INTERACTIVE - KHERSON COUNTEROFFENSIVE TIMELINE 1

Other territorial gains include areas in Luhansk, where on September 19, according to Governor Serhiy Haidai, Ukrainian forces regained control of Kreminna town and Bilohorivka village close to the city of Lysychansk, which fell to Russian forces in July.

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West should nuke Kremlin if Putin tries to strike Kyiv, Zelensky warns

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THE West should nuke Russia if Putin tries to launch a nuclear strike on Kyiv, President Zelensky warned as the Kremlin steps up its bombardment of Ukraine.

The war-time President said the West should strike Russian “decision-making” centres and send Putin a clear message.

President Zelensky called on the West to nuke Russia if it launched a nuclear assault on Ukraine

President Zelensky called on the West to nuke Russia if it launched a nuclear assault on UkraineCredit: YouTube/Office of the President of Ukraine

Putin could launch a warning nuke into the Black Sea, officials claim

Putin could launch a warning nuke into the Black Sea, officials claimCredit: Getty

Moscow has stepped up bombardments on Ukrainian infrastructure and homes

Moscow has stepped up bombardments on Ukrainian infrastructure and homesCredit: Getty

“Nobody knows what Russia will do tomorrow but we do know what the world had to do,” President Zelensky told Canadian broadcaster CBC.

“As to nuclear weapons, it doesn’t matter is Ukraine is a NATO member is not a NATO member, [the war] is happening in Europe, on the European continent. Nobody is allowed to simply blackmail [us] as a terrorist.

“The one who orders to kill people, if you do that, you have to know that in a second, regardless of the result of your hit, there will be a hit at your decision-making centre.”

Analysts feared Putin would detonate a warhead in the Black Sea, potentially unleashing tsunamis and a poisonous gas cloud.

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It was also claimed plans were under way to test fire a tactical nuke in the Arctic before launching one on the battlefield in Ukraine.

Recent days have seen a number of Notam messages – short notice warnings to aircraft – and Russian navigation warnings indicating live fire drills in the Barents Sea near the border with Norway.

It comes as pro-Russian authorities on Saturday urged residents in the annexed Kherson region to evacuate “immediately” in the face of Kyiv’s advancing counter-offensive.

It comes as President Zelensky said Russia launched 36 rockets overnight in a “massive attack” on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, causing power outages across the country.

Kyiv’s forces have been advancing along the west bank of the Dnieper river, towards Kherson.

It was the first major city to fall to Moscow’s troops. Retaking it would be a key prize in Ukraine’s counter-offensive.

In recent days, Russia has been moving residents in the region — which Moscow claims to have annexed in September — in efforts described as “deportations” by Kyiv.

“Due to the tense situation on the front, the increased danger of mass shelling of the city and the threat of terrorist attacks, all civilians must immediately leave the city and cross to the left bank of the Dnieper river,” the region’s pro-Russian authorities said on social media.

Meanwhile more than a million households in Ukraine were left without electricity following Russian strikes on energy facilities across the country, the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidency Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on Saturday.

Fresh Russian strikes targeted energy infrastructure in Ukraine’s west, the national operator said earlier, with officials in several regions of the war-scarred country reporting power outages.

Power outages were reported among others in the northwestern Volyn region, parts of the southwestern Odessa region and the city of Khmelnitskyi in western Ukraine with local authorities reiterating calls to reduce energy use.

According to Ukraine’s air force, Moscow’s troops on Saturday fired 17 cruise missiles by aircraft from southern Russia and at least 16 Kalibr cruise missiles from ships in the Black Sea.

Ukraine’s authorities have called on residents to reduce power consumption amid the attacks with some parts of Ukraine reducing their electricity use by up to 20 percent, according to Ukrenergo.

Putin warned he would use 'all means at our disposal' to defend its territory

Putin warned he would use ‘all means at our disposal’ to defend its territoryCredit: AFP

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Trump is Called to Appear before the U.S. Capitol Riot Panel — Transcontinental Times

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UNITED STATES: The House of Representatives committee looking into Donald Trump supporters’ attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, received an order on Friday requiring the former President to testify under oath and submit documents.

The committee claimed to have served Trump with a subpoena asking him to appear for deposition testimony commencing on or around November 14 and to provide documents to the panel by November 4 by way of the subpoena.

Deposition testimony frequently refers to a witness being questioned behind closed doors and on camera for the record. Such testimony might be made public and included in the special panel’s final report.

On Friday, the committee sent a letter to Trump, “As demonstrated in our hearings, we have assembled overwhelming evidence, including from dozens of your former appointees and staff, that you personally orchestrated and oversaw a multi-part effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to obstruct the peaceful transition of power.”

The committee is requesting a wide range of documents from Trump that would describe any communications he may have had with lawmakers, Oath Keepers and Proud Boys members, associates and former aides like Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, and Rudy Giuliani, over the course of several months prior to the January 6 riot and beyond.

Additional documents, texts, and emails are being sought that outline potential trips to the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Communications relating to efforts to persuade state legislatures or politicians to take measures that would have postponed Congress’ certification of the presidential election or changes in states that would have certified a different slate of “electors” who would have supported declaring Trump the victor of the 2020 election.

Trump, who frequently refers to the committee as the “unselect committee,” has claimed that it is unfairly attacking him politically while ignoring his claims of widespread election fraud.

If Republicans take back control of the House in the upcoming midterm elections, he is unlikely to cooperate with the subpoena and may instead choose to try to extend the life of a committee whose term is expected to finish early in the following year.

On January 6, 2021, thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol after Trump gave an impassioned speech at a rally close to the White House in which he falsely claimed that Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over him in the 2020 presidential election was the product of fraud.

Also Read: Trump’s Truth Social Receives Approval from Google Play Store

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Russia orders Kherson evacuation as Ukrainian forces expected to retake key city

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Russian authorities have ordered all residents in the city of Kherson to evacuate in expectation of a Ukrainian advance, it has been reported.

The city has been occupied by Russia since the early days of its invasion in February and the wider region was one of four illegally annexed by Vladimir Putin earlier this month.

Martial law was declared and Russian military leaders in Kherson have described the situation as “tense” in recent days amid reports of shelling attacks.

Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-installed deputy administrator of the Kherson region said in a Telegram message posted late on Tuesday that “in the very near future, the battle for Kherson will begin.”

He said on Saturday that a decision had been made “to evacuate the civilian population for the sake of ensuring security”.

Ukrainian forces are believed to have bombarded Russian positions on Friday, ahead of a full-scale assault.

Meanwhile, Russia has been using its annexation, the largest since the Second World War, to forcibly remove citizens deeper into its territory.

It is believed as many as 60,000 people could be displaced.

Ukrainian officials have urged Kherson residents to resist attempts to relocate them, with one local official alleging that Moscow wanted to take civilians hostage and use them as human shields.

Russian troops patrol an area at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station, a run-of-river power plant on the Dnieper River in Kherson region (Photo: AP Photo, File)

The British Ministry for Defence said in an update on Saturday that Russian forces are coming under “increasing pressure” in Kherson and that they “continue to reinforce crossing points over the Dnipro River, and have completed a barge bridge alongside the damaged Antonovsky bridge.”

Neil Bush, the UK’s Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) warned in a speech earlier this week: “Martial law will mean further ruthless attempts to enforce control in territory to which Russia has no right, and over people who have already suffered heavily at the hands of Russian forces.

“Despite what the Kremlin tells us, these moves highlight Russia’s increasing desperation in the midst of its failing invasion.

“On Kherson, Russia’s plans to forcibly deport Ukrainian civilians are deeply concerning. We remind Russia that any danger posed to civilians is a direct result of its illegal invasion.”

The potential reclaiming of Kherson would represent another humiliation for Russia and comes amid claims that the UK must prepare for a “very dangerous chapter” in the conflict.

Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Commons Defence Committee, warned there were “conversations happening behind the scenes” in government about how to respond if a state used nuclear weapons.

The threat of the first nuclear bomb in 77 years being launched has grown as Vladimir Putin’s forces suffer battlefield reversals.

Civilians leaving the Kherson region, crossing to the other side of the Dnieper River as pro-Kremlin officials say they are pulling out of the key southern Ukraine city (Photo: STRINGER / TELEGRAM / @NM_DNR / TELEGRAM/ @STREMOUSOV_KIRILL / / AFP)

This week, the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, and Armed Forces Minister, James Heappey, flew to Washington DC for emergency talks with US counterparts amid growing concern that Mr Putin could launch a nuclear strike.

Mr Ellwood told Sky News: “Clearly, it has moved into a very dangerous chapter. It’s quite incredible what Ukraine has done, who would have thought six months ago that they would have been able to push back the third largest army in the world?

“But with Putin in a corner, now calling for martial law in those areas where he had that sham referendum we must now ask the very difficult questions that perhaps we have avoided in the last 77 years: what do we do if a state uses a nuclear weapon?”

“I am not sure we are quite there in that mindset yet, but I understand those conversations are happening behind the scenes.”

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Lights go out in Ukraine as Russia launches “massive” strike

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people in central and western Ukraine woke up on Saturday to power outages and periodic bursts of gunfire, as Ukrainian air defense tried to shoot down drones and incoming missiles.

Russia has intensified its strikes on power stations, water supply systems and other key infrastructure across the country, the latest phase of the war as it nears the eight-month mark.

Ukraine’s air force said in a statement Saturday that Russia had launched “a massive missile attack” targeting “critical infrastructure,” hours after air raid sirens blared across the country. It said that it had downed 18 out of 33 cruise missiles launched from air and sea.

“Several rockets” targeting the capital were shot down on Saturday morning, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging service.

Similar reports were made by the governors of six western and central provinces, as well as the southern Odesa region on the Black Sea.

The presidential office said in its morning statement that five explosive-laden drones were downed in the central Cherkasy region southeast of Kyiv.

The western city of Khmelnytskyi, which straddles the Bug river and was home to some 275,000 people before the war, was left with no electricity, shortly after local media reported several loud explosions.

The city council urged local residents to store water, “in case it’s also gone within an hour,” in a social media post on Saturday.

The mayor of Lutsk, a city of 215,000 in Ukraine’s far west, made a similar appeal on Telegram on Saturday. Power in Lutsk had been partially knocked out after Russian missiles slammed into local energy facilities, he said.

The central city of Uman, a key pilgrimage center for Hasidic Jews which counted some 100,000 residents before the war, was also plunged into darkness after a rocket hit a nearby power station, regional authorities said on Telegram.

In the capital and four surrounding regions, including Cherkasy, rolling blackouts came into effect on Saturday morning in response to the reduced power supplies. The state energy company Ukrenergo continued to urge all Ukrainians to conserve energy.

Earlier this week, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on consumers to curb their power use between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. daily, and avoid using energy-guzzling appliances such as electric heaters.

Over the past two weeks, Moscow has increased its attacks on key civilian infrastructure across Ukraine. About 40% of the country’s electric power system has been severely damaged, officials said. Zelenskyy said earlier in the week that 30% of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed since Oct. 10.

___

Kozlowska reported from London.

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U.S., Russian defence chiefs speak, call was needed to clear up misunderstandings -Moscow

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U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin attends a news conference during a NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium October 12, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Oct 21 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke for the first time since May on Friday and a top Russian diplomat said the call was needed to eliminate misunderstandings, TASS news agency reported.

The Pentagon declined to offer specifics beyond saying that Austin, who initiated the conversation, emphasized a need for lines of communication amid the war in Ukraine.

“Misunderstandings must be cleared up so that there are no accidents … these are always important contacts, and it’s important the Americans were the first to go for it,” TASS quoted Vienna-based Russian diplomat Konstantin Gavrilov as telling Russian television.

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Gavrilov, a senior security negotiator, also said that in the wake of the call Moscow expected clarification about nuclear deterrence exercises that NATO is carrying out, TASS added.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said Friday offered the best opportunity for the two sides to speak, without explaining why that was the case. She did not say whether any additional talks were scheduled between the two.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday urged the West to warn Russia not to blow up a dam in southern Ukraine that would cause severe flooding. Russia has accused Ukraine of rocketing the dam and planning to destroy it in what Kyiv officials called a sign Russia might blow it up and blame Ukraine. Neither side produced evidence to back up their allegations.

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Reporting by David Ljunggren, Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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