Saturday, July 23, 2022

Ukraine Targets Key Bridge as It Prepares Counteroffensive in South; Russia expanding its war focus to southern Ukraine; Ukraine invites arms makers to ‘test’ weapons against Russia; 'The mouth of the bear': Nearly 2 Million Ukrainian Refugees sent to Russia, LIVE UPDATES and MORE

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Ukraine Targets Key Bridge as It Prepares Counteroffensive in South:
Strikes aim to isolate Russian forces in Kherson, the only regional capital occupied by Moscow’s troops since the invasion
Ukraine struck for the second day in a row the strategic bridge linking Russian-occupied Kherson with other Russian-held areas in southern Ukraine, part of preparations for a counteroffensive there.
Kherson is the only Ukrainian regional capital that Moscow captured in five months of fighting, and the looming battle there would determine whether Ukraine is able to claw back significant territories after its recent setbacks in the eastern Donbas area.
Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns said U.S. intelligence agencies estimate that 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the Ukraine conflict and roughly three times that number wounded. Ukraine’s casualties, while significant, are “a little less than that,” Mr. Burns said Wednesday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
Ukrainian precision strikes on the Antonivsky bridge and near the Kakhovka dam over the Dnipro river, the only crossings that allow the resupply of the Russian forces in Kherson city and other areas on the western side of the river, have been made possible by recent deliveries of U.S. Himars rocket systems.
As a result of Wednesday’s strikes, truck traffic on the Antonivsky bridge will be suspended while repair works are carried out, said Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-appointed head of the Kherson regional administration.
“The nature of the damage means that Russian tanks and fuel trucks can no longer safely cross there,” said Serhiy Khlan, a member of the Ukrainian regional legislature in Kherson, which is loyal to the Kyiv government. Strikes on Tuesday, he added, targeted not the Antonivsky bridge itself but a Russian base in the Nairi hotel complex at the entrance to the bridge. Truck traffic continues over the Kakhovka dam, some 45 miles to the northeast.
The effective use of Himars to hit Russian ammunition facilities and command centers has allowed Ukraine to blunt the Russian offensive and stabilize the front line in the eastern Donbas area in recent weeks, according to Lt. Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny, the country’s top military commander. Russian troops haven’t made any significant gains in Donbas since taking the city of Lysychansk more than two weeks ago. --->READ MORE HERE
Official: Russia expanding its war focus to southern Ukraine:
Ukrainian forces on Wednesday damaged a bridge that is key to supplying Russian troops in southern Ukraine, where Russia’s foreign minister said Moscow is trying to consolidate its territorial gains.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told state-controlled RT television and the RIA Novosti news agency that Russia has expanded its “special military operation” from eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk provinces to include the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions and other captured territories.
Lavrov’s remarks and the Ukrainian missile attack on the strategically important Kherson region bridge indicated the nearly five-month war would likely broaden again after unfolding mostly in eastern Ukraine since April.
Russia’s top diplomat noted that when Russia and Ukraine in March discussed a possible deal to end the fighting, “our readiness to accept the Ukrainian proposal was based on the geography of March 2022.”
“Now it’s a different geography,” Lavrov said, repeating Moscow’s earlier claims that the United States and Britain were encouraging Ukraine to expand the hostilities.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 and quickly seized some territory, but withdrew from the capital region and the north at the end of March to concentrate on seizing Donetsk and Luhansk, where pro-Moscow separatists have controlled much of the territory since 2014.
As Russian forces gained control of more cities in the two eastern provinces, which together make up Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region, Ukrainian officials mentioned plans for a counter-offensive to retake Russian-occupied areas in the south. --->READ MORE HERE
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