Ukraine breaks through Russian defenses in the east, Zelensky in New York to address the UN

Ukraine claimed on Monday to have pierced the Russian defense line by retaking two villages near the devastated town of Bakhmut, on the eastern front, wanting to see it as an encouraging sign for its counter-offensive at a time when President Volodymyr Zelensky, who arrived in the United States, will address the UN General Assembly and meet Joe Biden

Ukraine breaks through Russian defenses in the east, Zelensky in New York to address the UN

Ukraine claimed on Monday to have pierced the Russian defense line by retaking two villages near the devastated town of Bakhmut, on the eastern front, wanting to see it as an encouraging sign for its counter-offensive at a time when President Volodymyr Zelensky, who arrived in the United States, will address the UN General Assembly and meet Joe Biden.

In Europe, on the other hand, the question of the transit of Ukrainian grain, blocked by the Russian embargo in the Black Sea, is causing trouble between Brussels, kyiv and its neighboring EU members.

Ukraine has announced that it is filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, which refuse the lifting of transit restrictions decided by the EU.

Engaged since the beginning of June in a difficult counter-offensive against Russian fortified lines, Ukrainian forces have increased their pressure over the past two weeks, retaking the village of Robotyné in the south, then that of Andriïvka in the east.

On Sunday, the neighboring town of Andriïvka, Klichtchiïvka, fell after months of fighting.

With these advances, "the enemy's defense line has been breached," said the commander of kyiv's ground troops, General Oleksandr Syrsky.

These localities were “important” for the Russian defense line around Bakhmout, he added, specifying that three Russian brigades had been “destroyed”.

The situation in the eastern zone remains "complicated" and "fierce fighting near Bakhmout continues", however, admitted General Syrsky.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on X (formerly Twitter) that he was "proud" of "each of our heroes on the front line".

Russia claimed the capture of Bakhmut in May after ten months of bloody fighting. But since then it has faced Ukrainian counterattacks on its flanks, and the battle continues for this city of 70,000 inhabitants before the war and today largely destroyed.

Night strikes deep into Ukrainian territory also continued with 24 drones sent and 17 missiles fired by Russia, the Ukrainian Air Force said, according to which all missiles and 18 drones were intercepted.

The Russian army, for its part, claimed in its daily report to have bombed storage sites in Ukraine for Storm Shadow cruise missiles and depleted uranium munitions, two types of weapons supplied by London.

Russia also announced that it had shot down several Ukrainian drones overnight in annexed Crimea, in the Moscow region as well as in Belgorod and Voronezh, close to Ukraine. A type of attack that has become almost daily.

In Russia itself, security services said they had arrested two members of a pro-Ukrainian Russian armed group in a region bordering Ukraine who were “preparing acts of sabotage”.

Kiev announced on Monday that it had filed a complaint with the WTO against three EU countries -- Poland, Slovakia and Hungary -- which have extended their embargo on Ukrainian grain imports, despite the lifting of restrictions decided by Brussels.

“It is crucial for us to establish that individual member states cannot ban the import of Ukrainian goods,” explained Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko in a press release. “This is why we are filing a complaint against them,” she added.

In the process, Warsaw, also one of Ukraine's best military and diplomatic allies against Russia, announced that it was maintaining its decision.

“We think it is fair,” Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller told Polsat News television, “such a complaint to the WTO does not impress us.”

At the end of April, the European Commission allowed five member states (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania) to block the marketing of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower on their soil in order to protect their farmers.

On the diplomatic level, Volodymyr Zelensky announced on the UN in New York. He must then go to Washington for new discussions on Thursday with his American counterpart Joe Biden, whose country is the main military and financial support of kyiv.

In New York, the Ukrainian president must meet with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, after a meeting canceled in May during the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, officially due to an incompatibility of agendas.

Unlike several Western powers, Brazil has never imposed financial sanctions on Russia nor agreed to supply munitions to Kiev and Mr. Lula sparked heated controversy in April by asserting that the United States must stop "to encourage war" in Ukraine.

Berlin, for its part, announced on Tuesday new aid of 400 million euros, particularly military aid, on the eve of a meeting of kyiv's allies in Germany.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is expected in Russia for talks on “security”.

The visit follows last week's visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who reignited Western fears that Pyongyang was supplying Moscow with arms and ammunition for its war in Ukraine.

18/09/2023 22:49:49 - Kiev (Ukraine) (AFP) © 2023 AFP