Friday, 3 Feb 2023

Russia claims captured of contested village on outskirts of Bakhmut

Ukraine: Russian Su-30 fighter jets conduct operations

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Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry, made the claim today as bloody fighting broke out around Bakhmu which has been described by an analyst as a “meatgrinder” for warring sides. The village’s fall has yet to be confirmed by the Ukrainian military.

Taking Klishchiivka would be only a minor breakthrough, but the Kremlin is hungry for good news from the battlefield after months of setbacks.

Bakhmut, on the other hand, would be a bigger prize. It could allow Russia to disrupt Ukrainian supply lines in the east and threaten other Ukrainian-held cities in the surrounding Donestk region.

However, US officials have begun to nudge the Ukrainians to shift focus away from Bakhmut and focus on preparation for an offensive in the south, according to an official familiar with the views of President Joe Biden’s administration.

The official said administration officials have conveyed that they believe there is a high potential for the Russians to eventually push Ukrainian forces out of Bakhmut as some of the war’s most intense fighting to date.

Officials believe significant forces will be needed for an expected Ukrainian offensive in the south, but many of those forces are currently embroiled in Bakhmut.

The war has been largely static during the winter months, according to military analysts, except for hot spots like Bakhmut and Soledar, a nearby salt mining town.

Putin’s forces have kept up their long-distance shelling of Ukrainian targets, hitting key infrastructure and civilian areas, while probing Ukrainian defenses in the east.

The Ukrainian presidential office said at least five civilians were killed between Thursday and Friday mornings, and six others were wounded as Russian forces shelled seven provinces in the country’s south and east.

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Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks near a number of settlements in Donetsk and the neighboring Luhansk region, the General Staff of the Ukraine’s armed forces said.

The two provinces together make up the Donbas, an industrial heartland that borders Russia where pro-Moscow separatists have fought for almost nine years.

John Lough, an associate fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at the Chatham House think tank in London, said the Ukraine battlefield situation is “inconclusive,” with a renewed Russian push expected in the spring.

Meanwhile, a former US Navy SEAL was killed this week in Ukraine, American officials said today. He was not fighting in an official capacity.

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Daniel W. Swift is a former member of the Navy SEALs who is listed in official records as having deserted since March 2019. The Navy did not provide further information about his U.S. military record, but said, “We cannot speculate as to why the former Sailor was in Ukraine.”

The Navy said Swift was killed on Wednesday.

At least five other Americans are known to have died fighting in Ukraine, according to State Department statements and reports from individual families.

The US government has discouraged Americans from going to fight for Ukraine, citing concerns that they may be captured by Russian forces and held hostage. At least 6,000 people contacted the Ukrainian embassy in Washington during the opening weeks of the war seeking information about how to volunteer on behalf of Ukraine.

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