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As Putin celebrates a territory grab, Russia launches attacks in eastern Ukraine.

Officials said on Wednesday that Russian forces are continuing their air and ground assaults on a number of communities in eastern Ukraine, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed taking land during the nine-month conflict.

The region’s Ukrainian governor claimed that Russia had sent in more troops to attempt to take the village of Bilohorivka, while a commander in another hotly contested settlement spoke of an escalating Russian air offensive.
Serhiy Haiday, the governor of Luhansk, said on Ukrainian television that “they are bringing in more and more reserves” to the area near Bilohorivka in an effort to seize the village. “There are assaults every day.”


The assault resulted in the deaths of nine civilians in the community of Bakhmut and other areas of the Donetsk region that border Luhansk, according to the regional governor. According to Reuters, the Ukrainian military responded with rocket barrages.

The frontline hamlet of Avdiivka was shelled by Russian tanks on Thursday morning, according to Tatiana Ignatchenko, a spokesperson for the Donetsk regional government, and fighting was ongoing throughout the entire line of demarcation in Donetsk.

In contrast to stated intentions at the beginning of the Feb. 24 invasion, which he calls a “special military operation,” Putin made it clear on Wednesday that expanding Russia’s borders was a key goal of the war when he said Moscow’s plans did not include the occupation of Ukrainian land.

With the acquisition of “new territory” in Ukraine, Putin claimed that Russia had already accomplished a “big accomplishment.” He was alluding to the unlawful annexation of four partially occupied regions in September, which was denounced by Kyiv and the majority of UN members.

Putin stated that Russia had declared the Sea of Azov its “internal sea,” which is now bordered by Russia and Russian-controlled territory in southern Ukraine, including Crimea, signalling the possibility of a protracted conflict.


He claimed that was Peter the Great’s goal, a warrior tsar from the 17th and 18th centuries to whom he had previously drawn comparisons.

In recent weeks, Kyiv’s forces have forced Russia to retreat from large areas of territory it had controlled, including the important city of Kherson. According to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, his soldiers will eventually drive Russia from every piece of ground they have taken, including the peninsula of Crimea that has been seized and is located between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

According to the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, a significant port and the largest city in Crimea, Russian naval forces shot down a Ukrainian drone over the Black Sea on Thursday.

As attention shifted to the use of drones in the war between neighbours earlier this week, twin strikes on air bases deep inside Russian territory dealt Moscow a serious blow to its reputation and raised concerns about why its defences failed.

According to a statement from Ukraine’s military general staff, men of combat age have been called to mobilise in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhia region, which serves as a supply route into Crimea.


The general staff reported that since Wednesday, Russia has launched 16 airstrikes and 7 missile attacks, coupled with hundreds of attacks from many rocket launchers.

It took Reuters some time to confirm battlefield accounts from both sides.


Russian soldiers were participating in tactical training exercises in Belarus, a close ally of Moscow, hundreds of miles away and across the northern border of Ukraine, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The soldiers were preparing for fighting in winter conditions.

Recent Russian diplomatic and military activities in Belarus have stoked concerns that Moscow is pressuring its partner to take a greater role in the conflict in Ukraine.

President Alexander Lukashenko has permitted his nation to act as a staging area for Russia’s invasion of their shared neighbour after relying on Russian forces to quell a popular uprising two years ago.

Although he has so far prevented his own army from taking part, Moscow has started to show more signs of engagement in Belarus in recent weeks. Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defence minister, unexpectedly arrived in Minsk on Saturday. Without disclosing the details of the modifications, he and his counterpart from Belarus, Viktor Khrenin, signed the document.

According to Ukraine, thousands of Russian soldiers have been stationed in Belarus since October, and the authorities in Belarus have been warning more frequently about the threat of what they refer to as “terrorism” from partisans operating from across the border.


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