Is the Russian-Ukrainian crisis ending soon? First time in 133 days of war, it happened

On Wednesday, Russian forces made no claimed or assessed territorial gains in Ukraine “for the first time in 133 days of warfare”, according to the Institute for the Study of War. The Washington-based think tank suggested that Moscow could take an “operational pause”, but that it does not imply “the complete cessation of active hostilities”.

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“Russian forces are likely to confine themselves to relatively small-scale offensive actions as they attempt to create conditions for larger offensive operations and rebuild the combat power necessary to attempt these more ambitious undertakings,” the statement said. institute.

A statement Thursday from the Russian Defense Ministry appears to confirm this assessment. He said Russian military units involved in the fighting in Ukraine had had time to rest.

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“Units that carried out combat missions during the special military operation are taking steps to regain their combat capabilities. Servicemen have the opportunity to rest, receive letters and parcels from home,” the statement read, quoted by Russian news agency Tass.

Shelling continued in eastern Ukraine, where at least nine civilians were killed and six injured in 24 hours, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine’s presidential office said in its Thursday morning update that towns and villages in seven Ukrainian regions had been shelled over the past day. Most civilian deaths have occurred in Donetsk province, where fighting continues. Seven civilians were killed there, including a child, the presidential office said.

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Ten towns and villages were shelled in Donetsk and 35 buildings were destroyed, including a school, vocational college and hospital, officials said.

Donetsk is part of Donbass, a predominantly Russian-speaking industrial region where the most experienced Ukrainian soldiers are concentrated. Pro-Russian separatists fought Ukrainian forces and controlled much of Donbass for eight years. Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of two self-declared republics there just before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Putin claimed victory in Luhansk, the other province that makes up Donbass, on Monday after Ukrainian forces withdrew from the last city they controlled there. Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai on Wednesday denied that the Russians had completely captured the province.

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In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, a boarding school was hit, but no one was injured. The Kharkiv region, located along the border with Russia, is bombarded daily and two civilians have been killed there in the past 24 hours.

Ukraine’s military said on Thursday that Russian forces had also carried out shelling and helicopter strikes in the northeastern Sumy region.

Even as the fighting continued, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said it believed the Russian military was “rebuilding” its forces. A ministry intelligence assessment released on Thursday said heavy shelling along the front line in Donetsk was likely intended to secure earlier Russian gains.

Fresh hostilities have been reported in the Black Sea, where Ukraine’s military said Thursday that a Ukrainian flag had been planted on a strategic island from which Russian troops withdrew last month.

Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command said in a statement that Ukrainian military units cleared Snake Island, an outpost off Ukraine’s southwest coast vital to securing sea lanes out of the key port from Odessa. The command group also said the Ukrainian military had destroyed around 30 pieces of Russian military equipment, describing the discovery of “abandoned munitions and extensive ruins”.

Russian troops withdrew from the island on June 30 in what the Russian Defense Ministry called a “goodwill gesture”. But the ministry said Thursday that a Russian Aerospace Forces plane launched a missile strike on the island as Ukrainian forces attempted to plant the flag.

“As a result, part of the Ukrainian military personnel was destroyed, the rest fled,” the ministry said.

Ukraine also said Russia fired two missiles targeting a Moldovan-flagged tanker in the Black Sea, setting it alight.

Ukraine’s Southern Military Command said the strike hit the Millennial Spirit, which had more than 500 tonnes of diesel fuel on board. Ukraine says one missile hit the ship, while the other flew away. Social media footage showed smoke rising off Odessa on Thursday morning.

The ship has been unmanned and has been adrift at sea since the war began in February. Russia did not immediately acknowledge the strike on the ship. The ship’s tracking devices have failed since it was abandoned by its crew.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Kyiv on Thursday over what it said was the theft of Ukrainian grain from a Russian vessel.

The Russian vessel Zhibek Zholy has been allowed to leave Turkey’s Black Sea coast after Turkish authorities briefly detained it at the request of Ukraine. Ukraine summoned the ambassador to complain about the “unacceptable situation”.

Turkey, with its Bosphorus Strait, is a key transit route for shipping from the Black Sea. Ukraine has sought to pressure Ankara to halt Russian shipments of its grain, a vital source of income.

This story was published from a news feed with no text edits. Only the title has been changed.

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Christi C. Elwood