Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Latest developments:

  • Ukrainian soldiers recaptured the southeastern village of Staromaiorske in the Donetsk region. The recapture is part of Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive push through the Russian-occupied southeast.
  • U.S. Abrams tanks are now likely to arrive in Ukraine in September.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited a historic Odesa cathedral that was damaged by a recent Russian airstrike.

On Thursday, less than two weeks after Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the Russia-Africa Conference opened in Saint Petersburg.

The British Defense Ministry reported Friday that only 17 African heads of state attended the gathering. Forty-three African leaders attended the last conference.

Before Russia’s withdrawal from the initiative, 30 million tons of Ukrainian grain were exported to Africa, the ministry said in its daily intelligence update on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now, however, according to the ministry, Moscow’s blockade of Ukrainian grain is not only resulting in higher grain prices but will also be responsible for food insecurity across the African continent “for at least the next two years.”

A photograph of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, who staged a failed mutiny in Russia in June, has emerged. The BBC reports after extensive scrutiny and the use of facial recognition software, that the photo is of Prigozhin and Freddy Mapoul, a senior Central African Republic official, who is attending the Russia-Africa Conference.

The photo marks the first sighting of Prigozhin in Russia since his failed mutiny in June. The photo, according to the BBC, was taken in the Trezzini Palace Hotel in St. Petersburg, which is reported to be owned by Prigozhin.

Ukrainian soldiers have recaptured the southeastern village of Staromaiorske from Russian forces, a video published Thursday by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy showed, as Ukraine continues its counteroffensive push through the Russian-occupied southeast.

“The 35th brigade and the ‘Ariy’ territorial defense unit have fulfilled their task and liberated the village of Staromaiorske. Glory to Ukraine!” a soldier said in a video that was not immediately geolocated, according to Reuters.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar declared Staromaiorske liberated, saying, “Our defenders are now continuing to clear the settlement.”

Staromaiorske is located in the region of Donetsk, south of a group of small settlements that Ukraine recaptured during a counteroffensive it began in June.

Zelenskyy has recognized that the counteroffensive against Russian forces, who hold parts of southern and eastern Ukraine, has been slower than he wanted. But Wednesday, he lauded “very good results” from the front.

Russian forces have established an expansive network of minefields and trenches in the south to deter the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Ukrainian attacks in the strategically significant south had escalated, but he told Russian television that the Ukrainians had made no progress.

The recapture of Staromaiorske is part of Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive push through the Russian-occupied southeast. The strategy has focused on retaking villages as Ukrainian forces move southward.

Oleksandr Kovalenko, a Ukrainian military analyst, said the new focus on the southward push was Staromlynivka, a village less than three miles away.

“It really serves as a stronghold for the Russian occupiers, the peak of the second defensive line in this location,” he said in an interview with the RBC UA media outlet.

For months, Ukraine has been running low on ammunition it needs in its lengthy fight against Russia.

But now, U.S. Abrams tanks are likely to arrive in Ukraine in September, Politico reported Thursday, citing six officials familiar with the plan.

Previously, Pentagon officials said the tanks would arrive on Ukrainian battlefields sometime in the fall. The United States is planning on sending 31 tanks in total.

A batch of tanks will go to Germany in August, where they will undergo final refurbishments before getting shipped to Ukraine. In June, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he hoped the tanks would arrive in time for the ongoing counter-offensive.

This development comes a couple of weeks after the United States announced it would send controversial cluster munitions to Ukraine.

In a joint statement Thursday evening, U.S. President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni affirmed their commitment to continue providing political, military, financial, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”

Also on Thursday, Zelenskyy visited the historic Transfiguration Cathedral, which was damaged by a recent Russian airstrike on the southern port city of Odesa. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ukrainian culture has been a target since Russia invaded the country in February 2022. Since the war began, at least 274 Ukrainian cultural sites have been damaged, including 117 religious sites, according to UNESCO.

VOA but Some information in this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

By Admin

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