May 16, 2024

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Zelensky visits troops as Ukraine recaptures frontline territory near Bakhmut

Zelensky visits troops as Ukraine recaptures frontline territory near Bakhmut

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister said Monday that the Ukrainian military pushed Russian forces out of pockets of territory along front lines in the east and south of the country. The news came as President Volodymyr Zelensky paid a visit to troops near the eastern front. Follow our live blog for the latest updates. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

This live page is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

11:31pm: Russian ambassador to US says officials were denied visas 

Russia’s ambassador to the United States said on Monday the US denied entry visas to some Russian officials who planned to travel to Seattle for a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

“Entry visas for officials from several ministries and government bodies were not issued,” Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador, said.

7:36pm: 22 Russian diplomats leave Moldova as relations deteriorate

Twenty-two Russian diplomats flew out of the Moldovan capital of Chisinau on Monday, leaving behind a skeleton staff as relations between the two countries deteriorated after Moldova last month ordered Moscow withdraw most of its delegation.

Moldovan officials have said the reduction of staff at the Russian embassy to 25 from 80 will establish parity with Moldova’s embassy in Moscow.

Ex-Soviet state Moldova has been buffeted by Russia’s war in neighbouring Ukraine and its pro-European President Maia Sandu has denounced the invasion and accused Moscow of trying to destabilise her country.

6:22pm: US ambassador meets with detained journalist Gershkovich

US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy met with jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on Monday in her third such visit since his March detention on espionage charges he denies, the newspaper reported.

“Ambassador Tracy reported that Evan continues to appear in good health and remains strong, despite the circumstances,” the Wall Street Journal quoted the US embassy in Moscow as saying.


5:21pm: Zelensky visits troops near eastern front line

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visited troops at brigade headquarters in the eastern Ukrainian frontline region of Donetsk on Monday, his website said.

According to the site, Zelensky visited brigades involved in attacks on the section of the front line facing Soledar, the Russian-held town north of Bakhmut.

Pictures on the website showed the president and his top aide talking to soldiers in a room with screens which had been pixellated out.

5:02pm: Germany ‘stands by Ukraine’, says finance minister in surprise Kyiv visit

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said Monday his country stood “shoulder to shoulder” with Ukraine, as he visited Kyiv for the first time since the start of the war.

Lindner, whose trip was not announced in advance, said upon arrival that he would hold “very concrete” talks with Ukrainian officials on how the German finance ministry can support Ukraine now and in the future.

“We stand by Ukraine’s side, shoulder to shoulder,” Lindner told reporters.

Since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, Germany has provided some €22 billion ($24 billion) to Ukraine in humanitarian, financial and military aid, Lindner said.

“Ukraine must not lose this war,” the minister added.

4:48pm: Russian central bank to meet on Tuesday as ruble tanks

Russia’s central bank said it will meet on Tuesday to discuss the key interest rate, as the ruble earlier tumbled past 100 versus the dollar – its lowest level since March 2022.

“On Tuesday, 15 August 2023, the Board of Directors of the Bank of Russia will hold a meeting to consider the level of the key rate,” the central bank said in a statement on Monday.

4:35pm: US to send Ukraine new security aid worth $200 million

The United States on Monday said it will send Ukraine new security assistance valued at $200 million.

The aid includes air defence munitions, artillery rounds, anti-armor capabilities, and additional mine-clearing equipment, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

3:20pm: Ukrainian military says ousted Russian forces near Bakhmut, south

The Ukrainian military on Monday said it had pushed Russian forces out of pockets of territory along front lines in the east and south of the country, building on a gruelling counter-offensive launched two months ago.

The gains – announced by Ukraine’s deputy defence minister – came as Russia claimed its forces had progressed in the eastern Kharkiv region, undermining Kyiv’s highly anticipated campaign.

Ukraine kicked off its counter-offensive against Russian forces in June after building up assault battalions and stockpiling Western-donated weapons.

But Kyiv has acknowledged that movement against heavily fortified Russian positions has been slow and said it had gained only a clutch of land around the war-battered city of Bakhmut last week.

“In the Bakhmut sector, three square kilometres (1.2 square miles) were liberated last week,” Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar told state television, adding that Ukrainian forces had clawed back 40 square kilometres there since June.

1:39pm: Russia’s weapons showing effectiveness in Ukraine, says Shoigu

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday that Russian weapons were showing their effectiveness in Ukraine.

In remarks shown on state television, Shoigu said that “much-hyped” Western weaponry had shown itself to be “far from perfect” in the course of fighting in Ukraine.

12:18pm: Ukraine says its forces have had ‘successes’ in country’s south

Ukrainian forces have been pressing against deeply entrenched Russian forces in the south of the country, Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar said to state television.

Malyar said Ukrainian forces had been pushing towards the captured towns of Melitopol and Berdyansk, adding that “hostilities are continuing in Urozhaine”, a settlement on the southern front in the Donetsk region.

“We have certain successes there. Our forces also had certain successes on the south of Staromayorsk,” the deputy minister said, referring to another nearby town.

Malyar also confirmed that Ukrainian troops had conducted “certain tasks” on the left bank of the Dnipro river in the Kherson region.

The river was rendered the de facto front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces in the region after Kyiv recaptured the territory’s main city of Kherson in November.

“We cannot reveal the details but we completed these tasks. In order to entrench there, it is necessary to dislodge the enemy and clear the territory,” Malyar said.

9:43am: Poland detains two Russian citizens for distributing Wagner Group ‘propaganda’

Poland has detained two Russian citizens who were “distributing propaganda materials of the Wagner Group” in Warsaw and Krakow, the two biggest Polish cities, the interior minister said Monday.

“Both were charged with … espionage and arrested,” Mariusz Kaminski said on X, the former Twitter, without providing further details about the detained men.

Poland has recently warned of possible provocations coming from the mercenary group currently based in neighbouring Belarus, and said it would increase troop levels at the border between the two countries to 10,000.

Polish media last week reported about the appearance of stickers with the Wagner logo and inscriptions in English reading “We are here – join us”, as well as QR codes redirecting to a Russian website about the mercenary group.

The interior ministry did not specify if the arrests were made in connection with the distribution of the stickers.

8:57am: Ukraine says its forces recaptured 3 square kilometres around Bakhmut

Ukraine said Monday that its forces recaptured a small clutch of territory around the war-battered town of Bakhmut in the east of the country last week, wresting back land taken by Russian forces this summer.

“In the Bakhmut sector, three square kilometres were liberated last week. In total, 40 square kilometres have been liberated on the southern flank of the Bakhmut sector,” Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar told state television, referring to the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in June.

8:35am: Ukraine says Russian navy violated international law a day after ship fired warning shots at cargo vessel

Ukraine on Monday condemned what it called “provocative” Russian actions a day after a Russian warship fired warning shots at a cargo vessel in the Black Sea.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine strongly condemns the provocative actions carried out by the Russian Federation on August 13 in the Black Sea in relation to the Turkish dry cargo vessel ‘Sukru Okan,’ which was en route to the port of Izmail,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Russian Navy grossly violated the UN Charter, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and other norms of international law. These actions exemplified Russia’s deliberate policy of endangering the freedom of navigation and safety of commercial shipping in the Black Sea.”

Russia yesterday said its Vasily Bykov patrol ship fired with automatic weapons on the vessel after the captain did not respond to a request to halt for an inspection.

“To forcibly stop the vessel, warning fire was opened from automatic weapons,” the Russian defence ministy said.

The Russian military boarded the vessel with the help of a Ka-29 helicopter.

“After the inspection group completed its work on board, the Sukru Okan continued on its way to the port of Izmail,” the defence ministry said.

Shipping databases list the Sukru Okan as a Palau-flagged vessel whose home port is Istanbul.

8:16am: Chinese defence minister to visit Russia and Belarus

Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu will visit Russia and Belarus this week, his ministry said in an online statement on Monday.

“At the invitation of Russian Defence Minister (Sergei) Shoigu and Belarusian Defence Minister (Viktor) Khrenin, from August 14 to 19, State Councillor and Defence Minister Li Shangfu will go to Russia to attend the 11th Moscow Conference on International Security, and visit Belarus,” a spokesperson said.

5:32am: Russia to equip new nuclear submarines with hypersonic missiles

Russia is in the process of equipping its new nuclear submarines with hypersonic Zircon missiles, the head of Russia’s largest shipbuilder told the RIA state news agency in an interview published on Monday.

“Multipurpose nuclear submarines of the Yasen-M project will … be equipped with the Zircon missile system on a regular basis,” Alexei Rakhmanov, chief executive officer of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), told RIA. “Work in this direction is already under way.”

Yasen-class submarines, also known as Project 885M, are nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines, built to replace Soviet-era nuclear attack submarines as part of a programme to modernise the army and fleet.

4:40am: Three wounded in Russian attack on Ukraine’s Odesa, says governor

At least three people were wounded in an overnight Russian attack on the port city of Odesa, the governor of the Ukrainian region on the Black Sea said early on Monday.

“As a result of the enemy attack in Odesa, several fires broke out from falling rocket fragments,” the governor, Oleh Kiper, said on the Telegram messaging app.

“Windows in buildings were blown out by the blast wave.”

Key developments from Sunday, August 13:

Seven people, including an infant, were killed on Sunday by Russian shelling in Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson. One of the victims, a 12-year-old boy, was left in critical condition and later died in hospital, Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said.

Russian air defence systems shot down Ukrainian drones over Russia’s Belgorod and Kursk regions, the Kremlin claimed.

Read yesterday’s live blog to see how the day’s events unfolded.

Zelensky visits troops as Ukraine recaptures frontline territory near Bakhmut
© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)