Battle to liberate occupied Luhansk proceeds as Russian proxies look worried
Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the northeast of the country continues, with the region of Luhansk believed to be no longer under the full control of Russian forces.
One Ukrainian official stated on Monday that Kyiv’s forces had retaken control of the village of Bilohorivka in Luhansk. Serhiy Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said on Telegram on Mondat that Bilohorivka “has been cleared and is completely under the control of the Armed Forces.”
“We should all be patient in anticipation of the large-scale deoccupation of Luhansk region. This process will be much more difficult than in Kharkiv region. There will be a hard fight for every centimeter of Luhansk land. The enemy is preparing for defense,” he said.
Meanwhile, Russian authorities and their proxies appear to be worried about Ukraine’s gains in an area of the country where there are two self-proclaimed “republics” in Luhansk and Donetsk.
A photo taken on June 17, 2022, shows a destroyed school in the village of Bilohorivka not far from Lysychansk in the Luhansk region which was seized by Russian forces in early July.
Anatolii Stepanov | Afp | Getty Images
Denis Pushilin, head of the Russia-backed separatist Donetsk region, called on his fellow separatist leader in Luhansk on Monday to combine efforts aimed at preparing a speedy referendum on joining Russia.
In a video posted on his telegram channel, he told Luhansk People’s Republic leader Leonid Pasechnik in a phone call that “our actions should be synchronized.”
Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said the desire to hold a rapid referendum “suggests that Ukraine’s ongoing northern counter-offensive is panicking proxy forces and some Kremlin decision-makers.”
The ISW’s analysts said referenda would be “incoherent” as “Russian forces do not control all of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.”
“Partial annexation at this stage would … place the Kremlin in the strange position of demanding that Ukrainian forces un-occupy ‘Russian’ territory, and the humiliating position of being unable to enforce that demand. It remains very unclear that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be willing to place himself in such a bind for the dubious benefit of making it easier to threaten NATO or Ukraine with escalation he remains highly unlikely to conduct at this stage,” they said.
— Holly Ellyatt
UK says it will match current support for Ukraine in 2023
The U.K.’s newly elected prime minister Liz Truss is expected to announce a multibillion-pound stimulus package to help people with soaring energy prices.
Carl Court / Staff / Getty Images
The U.K. has announced that in 2023 it will meet or exceed the amount of military aid spent on Ukraine this year.
Britain’s Prime Minister Liz Truss is expected to announce during a visit to the United Nations in New York this week that leaders “must put an end to Putin’s economic blackmail by removing all energy dependence on Russia,” acording to a pre-released statement by the government.
Truss will use her visit to New York this week to solidify the U.K.’s “commitment to Ukraine’s security and territorial integrity, with the announcement that the UK will match or exceed our record 2022 military support to Ukraine next year,” the government said.
The U.K. said Ukraine’s gains in the conflict in the last couple of weeks amounted to “a significant moment in the war” and said this success is evidence of what the Ukrainian people can do with the backing of fellow democracies.
Missile strikes near Ukraine nuclear plant, IAEA says
A. Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, May 1, 2022.
An explosion near a Ukraine power plant damaged windows and power lines but did not impact the operation of the three reactors there, Kyiv told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday.
The blast from the shelling occurred about 300 meters, or 984 feet, from the industrial site of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in Mykolaiv Province, the IAEA said in a press release.
No staff were injured by the missile, which impacted three power lines that were swiftly reconnected, Ukraine’s nuclear operator Energoatom told the IAEA.
Ukrainian authorities reportedly called the shelling an act of “nuclear terrorism” by Russia.
The IAEA also said its experts discovered that a power line used to supply electricity to another nuclear plant, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, had been disconnected Sunday.
Zaporizhzia, located in southeastern Ukraine, is Europe’s largest power plant, and has six reactors that are currently in a “cold shutdown state,” the IAEA said. The plant still receives the electricity it needs for essential safety functions, but it now does not have access to back-up power from the Ukrainian grid, the IAEA experts said.
The disconnected power line transferred electricity from the Ukrainian grid through the switchyard of a nearby thermal power station, the IAEA said. It was not immediately clear how the line was disconnected.
“The situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant remains fragile and precarious,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in the press release.
“Last week, we saw some improvements regarding its power supplies, but today we were informed about a new setback in this regard. The plant is located in the middle of a war zone, and its power status is far from safe and secure. Therefore, a nuclear safety and security protection zone must urgently be established there,” Grossi said.
— Kevin Breuninger
Putin relying increasingly on volunteer and proxy forces for Ukraine combat: ISW
Russia is relying more and more on volunteer and proxy forces for its combat operations in Ukraine, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
“(Russian President) Putin’s souring relationship with the military command and the Russian (MoD) may explain in part the Kremlin’s increasing focus on recruiting ill-prepared volunteers into ad-hoc irregular units rather than attempting to draw them into reserve or replacement pools for regular Russian combat units,” the ISW said.
Part of this, it said, is due to Putin “bypassing the Russian higher military command and Ministry of Defense (MoD) leadership throughout the summer and especially following the defeat around #Kharkiv Oblast.”
— Natasha Turak
Russian troops strike nuclear power plant; reactors still intact
Russian forces struck a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine in Monday’s early hours, but its three reactors are unharmed, Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company said.
The Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region is still functioning normally, Ukraine’s Energoatom said.
The attack, which cause a blast about 300 meters away from the reactors and caused damage to buildings at the plant, also reportedly hit a nearby hydroelectric power plant and transmission lines.
— Natasha Turak
War ‘not going too well’ for Russia, Gen. Milley says
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley at a news briefing at the Pentagon on July 20, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia.
Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images
Things are not going so well for Russia in Ukraine at the moment, U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Warsaw, Poland. That could make Putin unpredictable and Western forces need to be vigilant, he added.
“The war is not going too well for Russia right now. So it’s incumbent upon all of us to maintain high states of readiness, alert,” Milley said. “In the conduct of war, you just don’t know with a high degree of certainty what will happen next.”
The general added that he wasn’t suggesting there was any increased threat to American troops stationed in Europe, but that readiness is paramount.
Russia’s operations in Ukraine have faced significant setbacks with the rapid counteroffensives in recent weeks that saw Ukrainian forces retake swathes of territory in the country’s northeast.
— Natasha Turak