In the war in Ukraine there are signs of a change of strategy in the Russian army. In the future, the army will focus on the “liberation” of the Donbass region in the east of the country, Russian Deputy Chief of General Staff Sergei Rudskoy said on Friday. The Ukrainian military had previously reported significant gains in the territory, including in the capital region of kyiv. The Russian military has acknowledged the deaths of more than 1,350 of its soldiers since the invasion began a month ago.
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The first goals set for the “special military operation” in Ukraine were achieved and the “Ukrainian combat units were significantly reduced,” Rudskoy said. This would allow the army in the future “to concentrate most of its efforts on the main goal – the liberation of Donbass.” However, Rudskoy did not rule out more airstrikes on Ukrainian cities.
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The Ukrainian government has been accusing the Russian army of attacking civilian targets for weeks. On Friday, police in Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city, reported the deaths of at least four civilians in a medical center due to Russian bombardment.
Residents of the metropolis near the Russian border told the AFP news agency that cluster munitions had been used in Kharkiv. The municipal administration of the port city of Mariupol, which has been under siege for weeks, spoke on Friday of some 300 people likely to have been killed in the shelling of a theater used as a shelter last week.
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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday dismissed accusations from kyiv that it was violating international weapons conventions by using phosphorus bombs in residential areas. At the same time, he again accused the United States of wanting to distract attention from an alleged chemical and biological weapons program that Washington is pursuing there and in other countries by warning of possible use of chemical weapons by Russia in Ukraine.
Russia presents loss figures for the first time
For the first time in three weeks, Russia has officially presented its own losses in Ukraine. Consequently, 1,351 Russian soldiers were killed and more than 3,800 wounded. Ukraine speaks of many more casualties on the Russian side.
Ukraine managed to regain important places
According to British military intelligence, the Ukrainian army has recently recaptured several important sites and defensive positions east of the capital, kyiv. According to them, the Ukrainian military also destroyed a Russian ammunition depot as part of its strategy to attack vulnerable Russian supply lines.
The Ukrainian General Staff also reported the destruction of the Russian landing ship Saratov and damage to the landing ships Caesar Kunikov and Novocherkassk.
The Russian military, for its part, said it had destroyed Ukraine’s largest fuel depot in Kalynivka, near kyiv, with “high-precision sea-launched cruise missiles.”
More than 3.7 million people have fled their homes
According to the UN, more than 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression. According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR on Friday, 2.2 million refugees have arrived in Poland in the last four weeks alone.
Biden threatened a “response” from NATO
US President Joe Biden arrived in Poland on Friday afternoon for a two-day visit. In the city of Rzeszow, near the Ukrainian border, Biden met with some of the 10,500 US troops stationed in Poland. On Saturday, Biden wants to speak with his Polish colleague Andrzej Duda in Poland about “the human rights and humanitarian crisis” in Ukraine and discuss possible reactions.
Biden’s visit to Poland follows Thursday’s special NATO summit in Brussels, in which the military alliance decided to further strengthen its eastern flank in light of the Ukraine war.
On Thursday, Biden again warned Russia against using chemical weapons in Ukraine and threatened a “response” from NATO. However, the US president has repeatedly ruled out direct intervention in the Ukraine war in recent weeks. (AFP)