- Zelensky visits London after Rome, Berlin and Paris
- Kiev, Bakhmut to profit in northern and southern suburbs
- Belarusian leader says 4 planes shot down over Russia
KIEV/LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) – Ukraine on Monday won a pledge from President Volodymyr Zelensky to buy new long-range drones to boost Western weapons arsenals in Britain for the first time in six months. I praised the battlefield advancement. counterattack Against the Russian invaders.
Since last week, Ukrainian forces have begun pushing back Russian forces in and around the warring city of Bakhmut, in the first large-scale offensive operation since Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city of Kherson in November.
“The advance of our forces along the Bakhmut direction is the first successful offensive operation in the defense of Bakhmut,” Ground Forces Commander Colonel Oleksandr Shirskyy said in a statement on the messaging app Telegram.
“The past few days have proven that even under these extremely difficult conditions, we can advance and destroy the enemy,” he said. “We are fighting with fewer resources than our opponents. At the same time, we can undermine their plans.”
The Ukrainian General Staff said in a battlefield update on Monday evening that Russian forces continued to try to hold positions, supported by heavy artillery fire, but failed to advance around the village of Ivanivske on the western edge of the city. rice field.
The Battle of Bakhmut will be the longest and bloodiest battle of the war, and while it has totemic significance for Russia, there is no other prize to be reckoned with for a winter campaign that claimed thousands of lives.
Over the past six months, while Moscow stepped up its operations, Kiev staunched its defenses, sending hundreds of thousands of recruits and mercenaries into Europe’s bloodiest ground battle since World War II.
Kiev is now preparing a counterattack using hundreds of new tanks and armored vehicles from the West since early 2023, aiming to recapture the sixth Ukrainian territory it claims has been annexed by Russia. .
Mr Zelenskiy met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London on Monday. Mr Zelenskiy was the last stop on a tour that spanned the past three days, visiting Rome, Berlin and Paris, and en route to a major new arms deal.
The UK last week became the first Western country to provide long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine, followed by a promising drone capable of striking at a range of 200 kilometers (125 miles) during President Zelensky’s visit.
Sunak’s government has announced that it will soon begin training Ukrainian pilots to fly fighter jets. French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with France’s TF1 television that France was open to training Ukrainian pilots, but that Macron and Zelensky had not discussed deploying fighter jets.
“I’m not talking about planes. I’m talking about missiles. I’m talking about training,” Macron said.
“A pivotal moment”
Mr Zelensky said the new weapons promised by the Europeans were “important and powerful”.
In a video speech from the train back to Kiev, he said, “We are returning home with new military aid. Newer and more powerful weapons for the front, more protection for our people. Greater political support.” …” he said.
Mr Sunak said the war was at a “crucial time” and Britain would remain firm. “For the Kremlin, it’s also important to let them know that we’re not leaving. We’re here for the long term.”
of Kremlin believes that the additional hardware will change the course of operations called “special military operations” to eliminate security threats posed by Kiev’s pursuit of ties with Western powers. said no. Kiev and its Western allies have called Russia’s actions gratuitous land grabs.
Ukrainian forces drove Russian forces out of Kiev a year ago and recaptured occupied territories in late 2022, but have since endured punitive Russian attacks awaiting the arrival of weapons.
Ukrainian officials are generally tight-lipped about the details of the ongoing offensive, but have reported gaining significant territory in both the northern and southern outskirts of Bakhmut over the past week.
Moscow has confirmed it is retreating to the north of the city, and the commander of the Wagner Private Army fighting inside Bakhmut said Russian regulars had fled from positions to the north and south.
Ukrainian officials describe the fighting in the region as a localized advance, not a large-scale counterattack that has not yet begun.
of the respected Russian press Saturday report On Monday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko inadvertently confirmed that four Russian military planes had been shot down near the Belarusian-Ukrainian border.
“Three days after the events near us, four planes were shot down in the Bryansk region, and we are forced to respond. Since then, we, our army, have been on high alert. It was reported that he said, “There is.” According to the state broadcaster Pul Pervovo Telegram channel, which reports on Lukashenko’s activities, it is the Air Force Command.
There was no official response from Ukraine. But Zelensky’s senior adviser Mikhaylo Podoljak on Saturday called the case “justice…and momentary karma.”
Belarus is a close ally of Russia, and although Belarus was used as a launching pad for aggression, President Lukashenko insisted that Belarus was not a party to the war and did not send troops to fight alongside Russia. claimed.
By Peter Graff.Editing: Mark Heinrich
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