The news comes as Ukrainian defence forces take steps to recapture occupied towns and cities in the eastern region of the country, with particular focus on Kherson which was taken by Moscow in the early stages of the war six months ago. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has thanked his forces for taking two settlements in the south and a third, along with additional territory, in the east, citing “good reports” from his military commanders and intelligence head as the mission to push back against Vladimir Putin’s forces continues.
The latest MoD report states the Donbas region remains Putin’s top priority in the conflict, hoping any gains would be seen as a victory in the process.
Intelligence released by the MoD said: “Despite its effects to contain recent Ukrainian offensive action, Russia’s main effort in Ukraine almost certainly remains its Donbas offensive operation. Its principal axes of advance in the Donbas remain at Avdiivka near Donetsk City and, 60km to the north, around Bakhmut.
“Although Russia has had the most success in this sector, its forces have still only been advancing around 1km per week towards Bakhmut.”
The report continued by highlighting the unlikely reality of the goal being achieved.
“The political goal of the Donbas operation almost certainly remains to secure the whole of Donetsk Oblast, which would enable the Kremlin to announce the ‘liberation’ of the Donbas.
“Russian forces have highly likely repeatedly missed deadlines to achieve this aim.
“The Ukrainian authorities have claimed that Russian forces are now under orders to complete this mission by 15 September 2022.
“The force is highly unlikely to achieve this, which will further complicate Russia’s plans to run referendums on the occupied areas joining the Russian Federation.”
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The news will come as a significant blow to Putin who had hoped his so-called “special operation” in Ukraine would be over in days, with intelligence provided to the Kremlin suggesting Russian troops would be welcome with “open arms” upon arrival.
So far, 49,800 Russian soldiers have lost their lives, according to reports published by Nexta.
Speaking of the ongoing mission to push back against Russian occupation, Mr Zelensky said: “Progress is being made to liberate all our lands and all our people.
“The Armed Forces of Ukraine, our intelligence, and special services are already taking the necessary steps for this.
“These steps can be heard.
“And everyone can see that the occupiers have already started fleeing Crimea.
“This is the right choice for all of them.”
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The statement by Mr Zelensky was made public on a Facebook post.
He also continued by thanking “warriors” of the 63rd battalion of the 103rd territorial defence brigade who played a significant part in liberating part of the Donbas.
The “54th brigade in the Lysychansk-Siversk direction also took good steps, advanced and regained certain heights”, while the “42nd separate motorized infantry battalion – thanks to its heroic actions, two settlements in the south of our country were liberated”.
On a wider scale, the impact of the conflict is taking its toll on energy prices in Europe, with the announcement of the closure of the Nord Stream pipeline adding another worry for consumers.
Germany has announced a £60bn emergency energy fund to help with energy supplies and bills, and Liz Truss, widely expected to become the next Prime Minister has also suggested she will take steps to assist with energy bills.
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Within Ukraine, energy has also been a key concern with the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant being taken offline by Russian occupiers as IAEA inspectors remain at the site to monitor safety concerns surrounding the reactors.
Speaking of why the plant has gone offline, Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Kremlin-appointed regional administration, wrote on Telegram said: “The Dneprovskaya power line has been hit.
“The nuclear power plant has switched to servicing its own needs.”
The official claimed a shell had hit an area in between two reactors.
The claims have not been verified at this stage.
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