Russia is pushing ahead with the encirclement of Lysychansk, moving more forces into the region and allegedly killing many Ukrainian soldiers in skirmishes. However, some others are freed in a large prisoner swap, including Azov militants captured in Mariupol. NATO officially starts the admission process of Finland and Sweden and reorganizes itself. Among other things, the significantly enlarged rapid reaction force should be ready for action in the coming year. The 125th day of the war at a glance.
Russia intensifies offensive at Lysychansk
According to the Ukrainian military, Russian troops are trying to encircle the strategically important city of Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine. This is one of the enemy's main efforts, the Ukrainian General Staff said in its situation report. The offensive towards the city will continue. Representatives of pro-Russian separatists had reported that fighting was already taking place in the city. In order to keep up the pace, the occupiers had strengthened their battalion group, it is said. According to Moscow, the Ukrainian troops have also suffered significant losses in fighting in the south of the city. Of the 350 men in a mountain infantry brigade, only 30 soldiers remained alive, the Russian Defense Ministry said in Moscow, referring to fighting at an oil refinery.
Was missile attack on mall accidental?
The Russian rocket attack on a shopping center in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, which killed at least 20 people, could have been a mistake, according to British intelligence services. According to an update from the British Ministry of Defence, it is quite realistic that the attack on Monday was intended to hit a nearby infrastructure target. Moscow's long-range missile attacks have also been inaccurate in the past, leading to a high number of civilian casualties - such as the shelling of the train station in the city of Kramatorsk in April, it said. Moscow is ready to accept "high collateral damage".
Dead and injured in new attacks by Russia
There were rocket attacks again today. For example, the city of Dnipro was hit by six rockets. According to Governor Valentyn Resnichenko, a man and a woman were killed. They were found under the rubble of a destroyed company. There were also three dead and five injured in a rocket attack on the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. The military governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitaly Kim, writes on Telegram that a high-rise building was hit.
Azov fighters are freed in prisoner swaps
According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, 144 Ukrainian soldiers were freed in the largest prisoner swap ever between Russia and Ukraine. Among them are 95 fighters from the Azov steelworks in Mariupol, the intelligence department of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense explains in the online service Telegram. Pro-Russian separatists confirmed the exchange and said that 144 fighters from their and Russian units could return to their homeland for it.
Referendum for incorporation of Kherson is being prepared
The advance of the Russian troops via Mykolaiv to Odessa is currently not succeeding, but the Cherson region is to be integrated into Russian territory as quickly as possible. According to the pro-Russian military administration, a referendum is being prepared. This is what the deputy chief of the military and civil administration of Kherson, Kirill Stremusov, says in a video published on Telegram. "Yes, we are preparing for a referendum - and we will hold it." Cherson should become "a full member" of Russia. According to earlier information, it should take place in the fall.
Syria recognizes Luhansk and Donetsk as states
The self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk are not yet part of Russian territory, but were instead recognized as independent states by the Russian president shortly before the invasion began. Syria was the first country in the world to take this step, according to the Syrian state agency Sana. It is said that talks should be held with both "countries" in order to establish diplomatic relations.
NATO is reorganizing - soon with Sweden and Finland
Meanwhile, NATO continues to forge its alliance and military strength. The increase in the rapid reaction force announced yesterday from 40,000 to 300,000 soldiers should be completed next year and the troops should be ready for action. "They will be stationed in their own countries, but already assigned to certain states and territories and will be responsible for the defense of these areas," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the NATO summit.
In addition, the representatives of the 30 member states decided on a new strategic concept. It states, among other things, that for political and military planning, Russia is viewed as the “greatest and most immediate threat to the security of the allies and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area”, and China as a challenge. The official procedure for admitting Sweden and Finland to NATO also started today. This was preceded by an agreement between the two candidates and Turkey, which had blocked admission.
Scholz promises Ukraine more weapons
In order to support Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to supply more weapons. According to the Chancellor, these are to be provided in addition to humanitarian and financial aid. Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced in Madrid on Tuesday that Germany would deliver three more 2000 self-propelled howitzers to the Ukraine. The Netherlands will probably also deliver three howitzers of this type again. Ukraine then has a total of 18 pieces.
West Freezes $30 Billion Russian Assets
However, not only the Ukraine should be supported, but also Russia should be weakened economically. On the one hand, this is done by freezing the assets of Russian citizens and Putin's confidants. So far, according to Western information, assets totaling 30 billion US dollars (28.5 billion euros) have been frozen. In addition, ten times the value of the Russian central bank was put on hold, the US Treasury announced. This is thanks to the work of the "Russian Elites, Helpers and Oligarchs" task force, in which the G7 and EU countries work together.
Russia's diamonds may soon no longer be "conflict-free"
In addition, the purchase of other raw materials and goods from Russia should be reduced. After oil, gas and gold, diamonds are now the focus of Western sanctions. The government in Moscow has criticized a move to politicize Russian diamonds because of the war against Ukraine and no longer classify them as "conflict-free". Because within the framework of the so-called Kimberley Process (KP) - a coalition of governments, the diamond industry and civil society - there are considerations to brand diamonds that are used to finance aggression by states. So far, the CP has defined conflict diamonds as those that fund rebel movements trying to overthrow legitimate governments. Ukraine is now calling for Russia's diamonds to be revalued, which has been met with support from Western governments.
Duma tightens law for "foreign agents"
The Kremlin, for its part, is trying to increase pressure on Western states by having the State Duma tighten a law on how to deal with "foreign agents". People and organizations who are considered "foreign agents" will therefore be subject to further requirements in the future. The definition has also been extended so that classification as a "foreign agent" is simplified. Under the new law, "foreign agents" are barred from teaching in public schools, preparing "information" for minors, and receiving public funds. In addition, the classification as a "foreign agent" can now already take place if a person or an organization is under "foreign influence".
Comedians want to be responsible for fake Klitschko
Numerous European mayors are said to have recently come under pressure from a completely different side. Two Russian comedians claim they were behind the fake Vitali Klitschko, who had recently called many mayors, including Berlin's governor Franziska Giffey. The ARD political magazine "Contrasts" spoke to the comedians Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov. In Russia, they are known for prank calls. They want to put recordings of their jokes online on Thursday, it is said.
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