Ukraine asks the West for new weapons to further corner Russia
Russia said yesterday that it had launched “massive” attacks on Ukrainian positions on all fronts in response to a major counteroffensive by Kiev, through which it has reclaimed some 6,000 square kilometers of territory. However, the Kremlin is refusing to press the gas pedal to the maximum as demanded by the most radical voices in the Russian propaganda apparatus and rejecting calls for general unification. Meanwhile, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which resumed war over Nagorno-Karabakh yesterday, is happening at the most inopportune moment for Russia, both’s ally and forced mediator.
Russian rocket forces and artillery bombarded Ukrainian forces from all directions, including the neighboring country’s east and south. The press secretary of the Ministry of Defense, Igor Konashenkov, assured that a high-precision attack was carried out on the deployment areas of Ukrainian units in several cities of the Donetsk region. They also hit the city of Kharkiv, the capital of the region where the Ukrainian offensive was most significant, as well as the cities of Mykolayiv and Zaporozhye regions in the south.
According to the Ukrainian side, in recent days, Russian forces have fired on parts of Kharkiv that have been retaken by Kiev.
Despite the deployment of Russian troops, Kyiv is determined to push forward and drive Russian forces out of its territory. The Ukrainian flag is flying again in dozens of settlements occupied by Russian forces since April-May after the counteroffensive. The most important cities are Balaklia, Kupyansk and Izium, as they served as rear bases for the Russian army.
It remains to be seen whether the Ukrainian momentum will allow them to move forward. On the eastern front, the target is Donbas. According to Russian news agencies, the head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, said on Monday that the enemy was trying to enter the region, which was completely overrun by Russian and pro-Russian forces in July. His counterpart in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, acknowledged that the situation was “difficult” and explained that the city of Lyman, north of Donetsk, had been shelled.
Sergei Gaidai, the Ukrainian governor of the Lugansk region, said further Kyiv offensives in the region could be expected.
But for the Ukrainian war machine to function as it has in recent weeks, it needs to be lubricated with Western weapons. That’s why Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated his call in a video late Monday night to his Western partners to speed up arms deliveries and “increase cooperation in defeating Russian terrorism.”
The Kremlin is not considering a general mobilization to fight in Ukraine, Peskov says
Recent success on the ground has been in Ukraine’s hands, as it has good publicity to see Western countries doing their aid work.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba yesterday slammed Germany for not supplying his country with armored vehicles in an attempt to increase pressure on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who on Monday, according to AFP, gave the wrong answer to the question.
“Disappointing signal from Germany. (…) There is no rational argument why these weapons cannot be sent, only abstract fears and excuses. What does Berlin fear, what does Kyiv not fear?” he wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, in Russia, the Kremlin is being bombarded by ultra-hardline circles, who are criticizing military commanders for a pseudo-strategic retreat. But the Kremlin does not see the kind of decisive military response that the general public is calling for.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said yesterday that there had been no discussion on the matter. Criticism by nationalist commentators online is an example of “pluralism”. And he said the Russians are supporting Putin.
Yesterday, the Kremlin was able to open a very uncomfortable, second front in the middle of the Ukrainian conflict. Violent conflict has reignited in the Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which have good relations with Moscow but have fought each other for three decades (including two wars) over Nagorno-Karabakh. According to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, 49 Armenian soldiers were killed in the fighting.
Armenia turned to Russia for help, citing a mutual assistance treaty that established military assistance in the event of aggression. Moscow resolved the situation by securing another fragile ceasefire. Hours later, Yerevan and Baku were already accusing each other of violating it.
The Luhansk region, controlled by Moscow since July, could be the next target of a Ukrainian offensive.
On the other hand, the Kremlin confirmed yesterday that Putin will meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Samarkand, Uzbekistan tomorrow, Thursday, as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit. Talking about Ukraine and Taiwan is on the agenda, said Yuri Ushakov, adviser to the Russian leader.
Russia’s break with the West is bringing Moscow and Beijing closer together. Oil and natural gas sales to China compensated for the loss of energy supplies to Europe. Ushakov stressed that China “fully understands why Russia launched special military operations against Ukraine”.
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