Russia’s invading troops are now facing ‘multiple threats’ along 125-mile front line with Ukraine’s forces making ground in Bakhmut, UK MoD says amid Kremlin’s Wagner mutiny turmoil
Russia’s invading troops are facing ‘multiple threats’ along a 125-mile section of the front line, with Ukraine’s forces making ground around Bakhmut, Britain’s Ministry of Defense has reported, amid the fallout from the weekend’s Wagner mutiny. After calling off his troops’ ‘march for justice’ toward Moscow, mercenary warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin was expected to go into exile in Belarus as part of a deal that pulled Russia and Vladimir Putin back from the brink of a potential catastrophe. As the world watched the brief armed rebellion unfold, many questioned whether Ukraine would take advantage of the chaos and step up its counteroffensive which has made small gains into Russian-held territory in recent weeks. While there was no initial sign of a major new push to capitalize on the confusion in the Russian ranks, there were reports of Kyiv’s troops attacking three fronts: around the Russian-held city of Bakhmut, and along the border between western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhia oblasts, and further west in the Zaporizhia oblast.
In its most recent intelligence update, Britain’s MoD said Ukraine had ‘gained impetus in its assaults around Bakhmut’ – a city lost to Russia in May. ‘In a multi-brigade operation, Ukrainian forces have made progress on both the northern and southern flanks of the town,’ the ministry said. It added that there was ‘little evidence’ that Russia could reinforce its ground forces with reserves ‘against the multiple threats it is now facing in widely separated sectors, from Bakhmut to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, over 200km (124 miles) away.’ The intelligence update came as Ukrainian military leaders insisted they were making progress in a multi-direction offensive targeting Russian lines in the south and east of the country, as footage showed Ukrainian forces taking out Russian hardware. ‘We are knocking the enemy out of his positions on the flanks of the city of Bakhmut,’ ground force commander Oleksandr Syrskyi said. ‘Ukraine is regaining its territory. We are moving forward,’ he said. Deputy defense minister Ganna Malyar said Ukraine had recaptured 17 square kilometers (6.5 square miles) of ground in the past week, bringing the total for June’s offensive to 130 (50 square miles).
She also said Ukraine’s forces had recaptured another formerly Russian-held settlement on the southern front, and urged them to keep advancing. ‘Defense forces returned Rivnopil under our control. Let’s push on,’ Malyar posted on her Telegram channel today, referring to a rural community in the Donetsk region. The village is in the same region as a number of other small settlements liberated by Ukraine in recent weeks, as its forces continue their push south – likely with the goal of reaching the Sea of Azov and splitting Russia’s forces in two. The biggest pocket of reclaimed territory is south of Vugledar, including Rivnopil. But Ukraine has also launched operations pushing towards Tokmak in the Zaporizhzhia region, and is battling further north in Donetsk to secure the flanks around the city of Bakhmut. Footage showed Ukrainian forces taking out a Russian Strela-10 surface-to-air missile system – resulting in a huge series of explosions.
The aerial clip shows the Russian war machine beginning to maneuver away, retreating into some undergrowth to hide, with one Russian soldier seen nearby, before the area is hit by a huge explosion, with its ordnance apparently detonating as well in a series of smaller explosions. The images were obtained from the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Monday, 26th June, along with a statement saying: ‘Enemy Strela-10 air defense system salutes in honor of the soldiers of the 56th OMPBr.’ It was not immediately clear where the strike took place. President Volodymyr Zelensky has admitted that the advance has not gone as fast as had been hoped, despite Ukraine starting to deploy more Western-supplied weapons and tanks. In an ominous sign for Russian, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said over the weekend that the main assault of the counteroffensive is yet to begin.
But there has been a breakthrough in the Mokri Yaly river valley, south of Velika Novosilka in the Donetsk, and the recapture of Rivnopil would be a continuation of this advance. Russian forces had confirmed that there was fighting for Rivnopil on June 16, two weeks after the official launch of Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive. Meanwhile, some 80 miles away, Ukrainian residents in the frontline town of Druzhkivka, near Bakhmut in the eastern region of Donetsk, told AFP that four explosions rocked a residential district overnight. The blasts severed water and sewage pipes, shattered windows and threw up stones that hit yards and roofs, but municipal authorities said no-one was hurt. ‘It was a ‘fun’ night, we haven’t had this for a long time, it’s been quiet for a month or so,’ said 66-year-old Lyubov, showing off the new hole in her cement-shingled roof. The wine-growing and salt-mining city of Bakhmut, in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas, was captured in May by Russian forces led by Prighozin’s private army.
The victory was short-lived, however. With the Wagner chief feuding with Shoigu and Russian commander General Valery Gerasimov, Ukraine launched a counteroffensive. The Western allies – who are backing Ukraine with modern weaponry, training and cash – see Putin’s grip on power weakened by both Wagner’s revolt over the weekend and the operation in Ukraine. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, visiting Lithuania ahead of the alliance’s Vilnius summit next month, said the chaos in Russia showed that Putin had weakened his own position at home by ordering the occupation of Ukraine. ‘The events over the weekend are an internal Russian matter, and yet another demonstration of the big strategic mistake that President Putin made with his illegal annexation of Crimea and the war against Ukraine,’ he said. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, opened a meeting of European foreign ministers in Luxembourg by declaring that the crisis was undermining the Kremlin’s power. ‘What has happened during this weekend shows that the war against Ukraine is cracking Russian power and affecting its political system,’ he said.
Wagner leader Prigozhin was last seen late Saturday in an SUV leaving Rostov-on-Don, where his fighters had seized a military headquarters, the nerve centre of the operation in Ukraine, overnight on Friday. He was cheered by some local people, and some shook his hand through the car window. Trucks carrying armored vehicles with fighters on them followed his car. His withdrawal came after Moscow announced that a deal had been struck for Prigozhin to go into exile in Belarus and for his men to receive an amnesty. In exchange, they halted their march on Moscow after coming within 120 miles of the Russian capital, according to reports. On Monday, however, Russian news agencies reported that Prigozhin himself was still under investigation for trying to organize an armed rebellion. ‘The criminal case against Prigozhin has not been dropped,’ the three main Russian news agencies quoted a source in the prosecutor’s office as saying. Zelensky and US President Joe Biden discussed the revolt on Sunday, ahead of the NATO summit. ‘The world must put pressure on Russia until international order is restored,’ Zelensky said on Twitter, adding that he had again asked for ‘long-range weapons’ for Ukraine. Read the full story: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12234139/Russias-invading-troops-facing-multiple-threats-125-mile-line.html?ito=msngallery
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