The Ukraine Spring ‘Offense’ HAS begun…..
I don’t care what the media says….
The Ukraine forces have turned things around and are retaking ground in Bakhmut, while the Wagner Group leader if knocking Russian miliarty leaders….
The Russian’s are shipping people out of the Zaporizhzhia and Crimea area’s…..
Things Are moving….
China talking to both parties….
While Putin stays home….
Zelensky is again on the move…This time to Italy….
Ukrainian commanders said their troops were advancing in localized attacks near the eastern city of Bakhmut.
Here’s what we’re covering:
Kyiv’s gains near Bakhmut raise alarms in Russia that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has begun.
Recriminations plague Russian forces as Ukraine steps up pressure.
China will send an envoy to Russia and Ukraine in a quest for peace talks.
Turkish opposition leader accuses Kremlin of election meddling, straining a strategic alliance.
Top E.U. diplomat vows to stand with Ukraine for the long haul.
Russian-ordered evacuations near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant alarm officials.
Kherson was a symbol of hope when it was liberated. Now ‘death is everywhere.’….
Russia’s Defense Ministry denied reports of Ukrainian forces breaking through on the front lines. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country needed to wait for more equipment to arrive before starting a spring offensive — even as defense officials announced gains around Bakhmut. Some Ukrainians fear that, if the counteroffensive is perceived as falling short, pressure will grow on Zelensky to negotiate a peace deal with Moscow, or Western support could wane.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
- Prigozhin asked Russia’s defense minister to visit Bakhmut to assess the “difficult situation” there for himself. In a letter published Friday on Telegram, a day after he claimed that Ukraine has started its offensive, the Wagner chief said his forces control 95 percent of the city. But “the enemy has launched a number of successful counterattacks” on Russian forces, he said. Prigozhin has been openly critical of the Russian military and continues to accuse its leaders of failing to provide his forces with enough ammunition in Bakhmut.
- Ukrainian military officials also claim to have made gains around Bakhmut. On Friday, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian troops have advanced two kilometers (1.2 miles) over the past week. Her statement echoed comments by Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, Ukraine’s ground forces commander, who said earlier this week that Russian forces have retreated along some parts of the front line.
- Russia’s Defense Ministry denied reports that Ukraine has made breakthroughs on the front line. “Statements circulated by individual Telegram channels about ‘defense breakthroughs’ that took place in various parts of the contact line do not correspond to reality,” the ministry wrote on Telegram. In a news briefing Friday, however, Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov appeared to tacitly acknowledge that Russian forces had retreated at Berkhivka reservoir, saying troops have “taken advantageous decisions” in the area to “enhance defense lines.” Several Russian military bloggers have reported Ukrainian advances and suggested that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has begun.
- Prigozhin issued a sharp rebuke in response to the ministry’s statement, saying in another video message Friday that Russian forces’ “flanks are crumbling, the front is failing, and the Defense Ministry’s attempts to smooth things over in the information field will lead to a global tragedy for Russia.” He added: “That is why they should immediately stop lying.”
- The U.N. nuclear watchdog intends to present a plan to protect Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plantto the Security Council this month, reports Reuters, citing four diplomats. International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi has sought an agreement between Ukraine and Russia on principles relating to the safeguarding of the plant for months. Grossi’s planned presentation signals that an agreement between the two countries may be forthcoming.
- Talks to continue the Black Sea grain deal are continuing in Turkey. On Friday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said parties are approaching an agreement to extend the deal, which is set to expire on Thursday. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said no decision has been reached and that talks are continuing.
- Zelensky said Ukrainian forces are mentally prepared and have enough manpower for a counteroffensive, but that launching it now would incur an “unacceptable” level of loss. “In terms of equipment, not everything has arrived yet,” he said Thursday in an interview with the BBC and European public broadcasters. Zelensky said the Ukrainian army still needs “some things” and that armored vehicles have been arriving in batches.
- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his country would do its best to fill Ukraine’s equipment shortages, in response to a question about Zelensky’s remarks. “If there are gaps, if there are shortages, they’ll tell us and we will make every effort to make good on them,” he saidon “PBS NewsHour.”
- Russian munitions killed at least one resident of the Donetsk region Thursday and injured at least a dozen more people, its Ukrainian governor said. In the Kharkiv region, at least four people were injured by Russian shelling, including an 88-year-old woman found under the rubble of a private residential building, the regional governor said. Separately, the Kremlin’s forces unsuccessfully assaulted Stupochky, eight miles southwest of Bakhmut, Ukraine’s military said early Friday. The fiercest fighting is still taking place in Bakhmut, it added.
- Russia is using Belarus as a training ground and a place for “combat coordination” of recently mobilized Russian units, the Ukrainian military said early Friday.
- Two Russian soldiers were sentenced to 2.5 years in prison each for refusing to fight in Ukraine, according to independent Russian human rights watchdog OVD-Info. The sentences were handed down in April; both soldiers refused to deploy to Ukraine in January.
- Spanish President Pedro Sánchez reaffirmed Spain’s solidarity with Ukraine and condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin in a press scrum after a meeting with President Biden at the White House on Friday. “In this war there is an aggressor and an aggressed, and the aggressor here is Putin,” Sánchez said, detailing his conversation with Biden. “I can say that the ending we envision for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.”
- South Africa loaded weapons and ammunition onto a Russian vessel docked at the country’s main naval base in December, Reuben Brigety, the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, said, without providing evidence. Brigety said the weapons and ammunition were placed on the ship, the Lady R, which docked at the Simon’s Town naval base outside Cape Town between Dec. 6 and 8. South Africa’s ruling ANC has denied the allegations, and ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula told local media that the United States is “not an ally of the ANC.” President Cyril Ramaphosa said the issue was being investigated, but later said the ambassador’s comments “undermine the spirit of cooperation and partnership” between his country and the United States.
- Ramaphosa spoke with Putin on Friday to discuss their countries’ “strategic partnership,” according to a Kremlin readout of the call. Putin offered to supply “significant volumes of grain and fertilizers to needy African states,” potentially free of charge, and expressed support for Ramaphosa’s proposal for a group of African leaders to discuss a resolution to the Ukraine conflict.
- Zelensky is headed this weekend to Italy, where he is expected to meet with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, a staffer in Mattarella’s office told The Washington Post, speaking anonymously to discuss planning that has not been made public.
- Germany was also slated to host Zelensky in the coming days — but uncertainty surrounds that visit after details of his itinerary leaked to the press. Kyiv was “furious” after arrival details and the name of hotel the Ukrainian president was planning to stay in were published by a Berlin newspaper earlier this month, according to a Ukrainian official, who said the trip was almost completely called off. Kyiv has been reassessing details because of security considerations but also annoyance over the leak, the official said. German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said he could not confirm that the visit would go ahead.
- The Eurovision Song Contest has rejected Zelensky’s request to address the competition final Saturday. The European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the contest, said in a statement that any address would be against “the nonpolitical nature of the event.” Britain is staging this year’s Eurovision contest on behalf of Ukraine — the first time in decades that the previous year’s winner isn’t hosting — after the EBU decided it would not be safe for Ukraine to host the competition.
- President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, met with senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Wang Yi this week in Vienna, the White House said. The two had “candid, substantive, and constructive discussions” that included the war in Ukraine, it said.
- China’s special representative on Eurasian Affairs, Li Hui, is set to visit Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia next week to discuss a “political settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a news conference Friday. The planned trip “reflects China’s commitment to promoting peace talks and staying on the side of peace.” Li previously served as ambassador to Moscow from 2009 to 2019. Even as Washington continues to voice concerns about China’s relationship with Russia, the Biden administration appears to be weighing whether to work with China to seek a negotiated settlement of the war in Ukraine, Blinken indicated at a Post Live event earlier this month…..
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