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“Step by step”. Ukrainian troops prepare to retake the south, but withdraw at a disadvantage – News

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In the village, whose name has not been released for security reasons, the extent of the destruction caused by the fighting can still be seen. Since then, Ukrainian forces have managed to recapture the territory of Russian occupation, but almost all the houses are destroyed or damaged, and there are almost no residents. There are several burnt cars and rocket holes on the streets.

At the foot of the destroyed buildings, a small detachment of Ukrainian soldiers is holding positions in trenches dug from sandbags. The group is constantly on the lookout for enemy drones. They are accompanied by a couple of dogs and a cat during these long days of waiting.

Ukraine has vowed to launch a counteroffensive to recapture the strategic Kherson region on the edge of the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that his troops are advancing “step by step.”

At the moment, the troops believe that Ukraine is doing the right thing by holding the front line.

“Some people are afraid, but what can we do? We must defend our homeland because if I don’t, my children will be forced to do it alone,” Stanislav, 49, who left his wife and two children to join volunteer units after the Russian invasion began.

However, “we lack artillery,” he adds. “If we shoot eight times, the Russians will shoot 48.” “At the moment they are financially stronger,” says a volunteer from Odessa, a neighboring region. “But we survived!” he assures.

“Libertar Kherson”

Russia used most of its military forces to concentrate its offensive in the eastern region of Donbass. But the Kherson battle can also become decisive.

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This area was the first to pass to Moscow after the start of the invasion. His return would be a symbolic and strategic victory for Kyiv.

“We will definitely liberate Kherson. We will not leave him to the Russians,” says Alexander, a 45-year-old soldier. “We must resist and destroy enemy troops,” he adds.

On Sunday, an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian regional military administration, Sergei Khan, suggested that the region would be “finally liberated in September.”

“We can clearly see how our armed forces are advancing. We can say that we are moving from defensive to counter-offensive,” he added.

The return of the city of Kherson, the capital of the region, and the surrounding territory would push Russian troops out of the main territory north of the Crimean citadel.

A capture would undermine the Kremlin’s chances of launching an offensive westward along the Black Sea to the port of Odessa.

The upcoming battle will also be a key test of whether Ukrainian troops can fight back against the Russians and liberate the entire country. Kyiv forces received new long-range weapons supplied by the West.

According to the intelligence services of Kyiv and the West, Moscow is strengthening the defense in the south, trying to stop any offensive.

In addition, according to the same sources, the Russians stepped up their attacks on the nearby city of Mykolaiv in an apparent attempt to stop the Ukrainian advance.

“We are ready”

In response, Ukrainian forces used Hilars missile systems to destroy weapons depots, command posts and disrupt supply lines in the occupied zone. This weapon, which has a range of 80 km, was supplied by the United States.

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They also destroyed an important bridge over the Dnieper River connecting Kherson with Kyiv, with the “island” Russian troops stationed there.

On the ground, Alex, a soldier, wants the Khimarov to be sent to the southern front. But Ukraine only has a handful of them, and they need to distribute them over more than 1,000 km of front lines.

Either way, “we’re ready to fight back,” he promises.

* Por Ionut Iordachescu /AFP

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Vladimir Putin has delayed the invasion of Ukraine at least three times.

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Putin has repeatedly consulted with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the invasion, Europa Press told Ukraine’s chief intelligence director Vadim Skibitsky.

According to Skibitsky, it was the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counterintelligence and espionage work, that put pressure on Gerasimov and other military agencies to agree to launch an offensive. .

However, according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, the FSB considered that by the end of February sufficient preparations had already been made to guarantee the success of the Russian Armed Forces in a lightning invasion.

However, according to Kyiv, the Russian General Staff provided the Russian troops with supplies and ammunition for only three days, hoping that the offensive would be swift and immediately successful.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence also emphasized the cooperation of local residents, who always provided the Ukrainian authorities with up-to-date information about the Russian army, such as the number of soldiers or the exact location of troops.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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Life sentence for former Swedish official for spying for Russia

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A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia, and his brother to at least 12 years in prison. In what is considered one of the most serious cases in Swedish counterintelligence history, much of the trial took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, it was Russian military intelligence, the GRU, who took advantage of the information provided by the two brothers between 2011 and their arrest at the end of 2021.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held many senior positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Payam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and of “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including passing on information and receiving financial rewards.”

Both men deny the charges, and their lawyers have demanded an acquittal on charges of “aggravated espionage,” according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The trial coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage, with the arrest of the Russian-born couple in late November in a suburb of Stockholm by a police team arriving at dawn in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Research website Bellingcat identified them as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova. The couple allegedly acted as sleeper agents for Moscow, having moved to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the couple ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

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The man was again detained at the end of November for “illegal intelligence activities.” His partner, suspected of being an accomplice, has been released but remains under investigation.

According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are not related to the trial of the Kia brothers.

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Ukraine admitted that Russia may announce a general mobilization

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“They can strengthen their positions. We understand that this can happen. At the same time, we do not rule out that they will announce a general mobilization,” Danilov said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online publication.

Danilov believed that this mobilization would also be convened “to exterminate as many as possible” of Russian citizens, so that “they would no longer have any problems on their territory.”

In this sense, Danilov also reminded that Russia has not given up on securing control over Kyiv or the idea of ​​the complete “destruction” of Ukraine. “We have to be ready for anything,” he said.

“I want everyone to understand that [os russos] they have not given up on the idea of ​​destroying our nation. If they don’t have Kyiv in their hands, they won’t have anything in their hands, we must understand this,” continued Danilov, who also did not rule out that a new Russian offensive would come from “Belarus and other territories.” .

As such, Danilov praised the decision of many of its residents who chose to stay in the Ukrainian capital when the war broke out in order to defend the city.

“They expected that there would be panic, that people would run, that there would be nothing to protect Kyiv,” he added, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

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At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion, justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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