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Russian-Ukrainian War Live: Bakhmut Counteroffensive Begins Soon, Says Commander of Ukrainian Ground Forces | Russia

Key events

Russian forces may have to advance to kyiv or Lviv in Ukraine, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Russian news agencies.

“Here, nothing is to be excluded. If you have to go to Kyiv, then you have to go to Kyiv, if to Lviv, then you have to go to Lviv in order to destroy this infection,” Medvedev said on Friday, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

There was no immediate response from Moscow to suggestions his forces in Bakhmut were losing momentum, but Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has issued statements in recent days warning of a Ukrainian counterattack. .

On Monday, Prigozhin issued a letter to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu saying that Ukraine was aiming to cut off Wagner’s forces from Russian regular troops.

Reuters reporters near the frontline north of Bakhmut saw signs consistent with the suggestion that the Russian offensive in the area may be waning. In a Ukrainian village west of Soledar, on the northern outskirts of Bakhmut, the intensity of Russian shelling has decreased significantly compared to two days earlier.

“It was very hot here a week ago, but the last three days it’s calmer,” said a Ukrainian soldier who used the call sign “Kamin” or “Stone”.

“We can see it in enemy air strikes. If before there were five to six air raids a day, today we only had one helicopter attack,” the soldier said.

Counteroffensive begins soon, says commander of Ukrainian ground forces

The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said his forces would soon launch a counteroffensive after withstanding Russia’s brutal winter campaign.

He said the Russian Wagner mercenaries, who have been at the forefront of Moscow’s assault on eastern and southern Ukraine, are “losing considerable strength and running out of steam”.

“Very soon we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we have done in the past near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupyansk,” he said, listing Ukrainian counter-offensives last year that have reclaimed tracts of land.

Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander-in-Chief of Ukrainian Ground Forces. Photo: Donetsk Regional Military and Civil Administration/Reuters

Opening Summary

Welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine with me, Helen Sullivan.

Our main story this morning: Ukrainian troops, on the defensive for four months, will soon launch a counter-assault, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s ground forces said, as Russia’s winter offensive wanes without capturing the eastern city of Bakhmut.

We’ll have more soon. In the meantime, here are the main recent developments:

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday renewed his call for more long-range weapons from Western allies. Addressing an EU summit via video link, the Ukrainian president recounted the “devastating” scenes he had witnessed near the front lines, where the fighting was fiercest. EU leaders have approved a plan – endorsed by foreign ministers on Monday – to send one million artillery shells to Ukraine over the next year.

  • Zelenskiy visited the southern region of Kherson, where he visited the infrastructure and promised to rebuild after the invasion of Russia. The Ukrainian military said Russian forces had left the town of Nova Kakhovka in Kherson, but a Russian official stationed there denied that.

  • EU leaders held talks with UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday on global food security and sanctions on Russia. Guterres’ participation came after the renewal of a UN-brokered deal with Turkey on the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea – seen as crucial to overcoming a global food crisis.

  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would work to find 16,200 Ukrainian children deported to Russia. Calling it a reminder of “the darkest times in our history”, she said only 300 have been sacked so far.

  • Dmitry Medvedev, deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, said Moscow’s relations with the West had reached a historic low.. When asked if the threat of nuclear conflict had diminished, he replied, “No, it hasn’t diminished, it has increased. Every day they supply Ukraine with foreign weapons brings the nuclear apocalypse closer. Medvedev said any attempt to arrest Vladimir Putin would amount to a declaration of war against Russia.

  • Hungary would not arrest Putin if he entered the country, said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s chief of staff.

  • Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has signed a law to bring his country into NATO. Last year, Finland applied to join in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Legislation incorporating NATO’s founding treaties was passed in parliament in Helsinki on March 1.

  • Head of UN nuclear agency says situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant ‘remains perilous’ after a Russian missile strike disconnected it from the network. Europe’s largest nuclear power plant needs a reliable power supply to run the pumps that circulate water to cool the reactors and pools containing nuclear fuel.

  • Ukraine’s state emergency service said on Thursday it had halted rescue attempts in Rzhyshchiv, Kyiv region, where nine people died in a Russian drone attack in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

  • Suspilne, Ukraine’s state-run television channel, reported that shelling in the Donetsk region on Wednesday killed two people and injured four others, while one person was killed and two others injured in Kherson.

  • British military intelligence said Russia had partially regained control of the approaches to the eastern Ukrainian town of Kreminna. after his troops were pushed back earlier this year.

  • Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said he would discuss a peace plan for Ukraine with Chinese President Xi Jinping. during an official visit to China next week.

  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reversed his stance on Ukraine after facing widespread criticism for calling the Russian invasion a “territorial dispute”. The likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination said his remark was “misinterpreted”.

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