Saturday, June 17, 2023

‘Just the Beginning’: Hardened UKRainian Units Go on Attack in Country’s East; UKR Advances Toward Berdiansk, Other Directions; Flag and RUssian Dead Attest to UKR Advance in South; Sabotage Strike Hits Oil Refinery 80 Miles from Putin’s Billion-Dollar Compound, LIVE UPDATES and MORE

Photographs by Serhii Korovayny for The WSJ 
WSJ: ‘Just the Beginning’: Hardened Ukrainian Units Go on Attack in Country’s East
Early battles bring arduous gains, while Russians complain of low morale
The Ukrainian 68th Jaeger Brigade spent the past year defending trenches in the country’s east against Russian onslaughts. Last week, they went on the attack.
On Saturday, three platoons from the 68th took the village of Blahodatne from a larger Russian infantry force after a methodical firefight. Men from the Jaeger, used to fighting in fields and hills, said they had trained themselves in house-to-house combat and described using their American-made armored vehicles to blast open a Russian strongpoint. The last Russian defenders ran away through their own minefield. Few made it.
Four of the Jaegers were killed taking Blahodatne, and several were wounded, men from the unit said.
It was one of a string of local victories in this area in the first days of Ukraine’s big offensive. Ukrainian forces, armed with newly delivered Western tanks and armored vehicles, have begun an ambitious, monthslong operation to take back as much as they can of the nearly 20% of their country that Russia currently occupies. The early focus of assaults has been in the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions in the south and east.
The past week’s battles have also highlighted Russian forces’ problem of low morale, according to several Russian soldiers taken prisoner in recent days who spoke to The Wall Street Journal.
“The battles are fierce, but we are moving forward,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address late on Monday. Muddy ground after recent rain is among the difficulties facing troops, he said.
Rescue workers meanwhile were digging through the rubble of an apartment block in the central Ukrainian city of Kryviy Rih after it was struck by a Russian missile overnight. At least six civilians were killed and around 25 were wounded, some critically, officials said.
The first week of the offensive has seen probes by small units in several sections of the 600-mile front in Ukraine’s south and east, as troops test for vulnerabilities in Russia’s positions and clear paths for bigger assaults on what lies beyond: a formidable line of Russian fortifications. --->READ MORE HERE
Photo by Vincenzo Circosta/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Defense Ministry: Ukraine advances toward Berdiansk, other directions:
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported on June 13 that Ukrainian troops have advanced in the directions of Berdiansk in Zaporizhzhia Oblast and Bakhmut and Toretsk in Donetsk Oblast.
The military has advanced from 0.5 to 1 kilometer in the direction of Berdiansk, liberating the territory of 3 square kilometers, Maliar wrote on Telegram.
Near Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces have moved forward by 250 meters and 200 meters in the Toretsk direction, she added.
According to Maliar, Russia is using air forces and artillery to defend occupied territories.
During the counteroffensive, Ukraine's forces are facing minefields, anti-tank ditches, and constant counterattacks by Russian vehicles, kamikaze drones, and anti-tank-guided missiles (ATGM).
Other battles are currently ongoing in the districts of Mala Tokmachka and Novodanylivka, near Makarivka in the Orikhiv direction, at Mariinka, at Yahidne in the Bakhmut direction, and in Vesele in the northern part of Donetsk Oblast, Maliar said.
President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed on June 10 that the long-awaited counteroffensive is ongoing, with concentrated hostilities in Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
On June 11, Maliar reported that in the past week, the military has advanced 6.5 kilometers, regained 90 square kilometers, and liberated seven settlements. --->READ MORE HERE
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