October 7, 2022
Russia strikes cities across Ukraine, gas supplies in focus- BPN TODAY

Russia strikes cities across Ukraine, gas supplies in focus

After failing to capture the capital Kyiv at the outset of the invasion on 24 February Russia has shifted to a campaign of devastating bombardments to cement and extend its control of Ukraine’s south and east.

Ukraine says Russian forces have intensified long-distance strikes on targets far from the front, killing large numbers of civilians. Moscow says it is hitting military targets.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had fired more than 3000 cruise missiles and uncountable artillery shells during the five-month conflict.

Over the weekend, Zelenskyy suspended the country’s security chief and top prosecutor, saying they failed to purge Russian spies from their organisations.

More than 60 officials from Bakanov’s SBU security agency and the prosecutor’s office were working against Ukraine in Russian-occupied territory, and 651 treason and collaboration cases had been opened against law enforcement officials, Zelenskyy said in a video address.

“Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security of the state … poses very serious questions to the relevant leaders,” Zelenskyy said.

He appointed Vasyl Maliuk, first deputy head of the SBU since March 2020, as acting chief on Monday.

In a related matter, Zelenskyy said in a late Monday video address that a “personnel audit” of the SBU was under way and the dismissals of 28 officials for “unsatisfactory work results” was under consideration.

Despite his disclosure of Russian penetration of the SBU, US officials said Washington would continue sharing intelligence that US officials have said Kyiv uses to respond to Moscow’s attacks.

This week could be pivotal for European countries concerned about the impact of war and sanctions on gas supplies.

Russia is due to reopen its main natural gas pipeline to Germany, Nord Stream 1, in coming days after regular maintenance, but Europeans are worried Moscow could keep it closed.

Russia’s Gazprom, which operates the pipeline, has told customers in Europe it cannot guarantee gas supplies because of “extraordinary” circumstances, according to a letter seen by Reuters, upping the ante in an economic tit-for-tat with the West.

Heavy bombardment

In Odesa, a Russian missile strike injured at least four people, burned houses to the ground and set other homes on fire, Oleksii Matsulevych, a spokesman for the regional administration, said on his Telegram channel.

Russian forces targeted Mykolaiv with cluster shells on Monday, injuring at least two people and damaging windows and roofs of private houses, the Ukrainian city’s mayor Oleksandr Senkevich said in a social media post.

More than 150 mines and shells had been fired on the Sumy region, Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, the head of the Sumy regional military administration, said on Telegram.

“They fired mortars, barrel and rocket artillery. The Russians also opened fire using machine guns and grenade launchers,” he said.

BOROMLIA, UKRAINE - JUNE 17, 2022 - Volunteers help rescuers clear away the rubble at buildings destroyed by Russian invaders, Boromlia village, Sumy Region, northeastern Ukraine. This photo cannot be distributed in the Russian Federation. NO USE RUSSIA. NO USE BELARUS. (Photo by Pavlo_Bagmut / NurPhoto via AFP)

Volunteers clear rubble from buildings destroyed by Russians in the Sumy region in northeastern Ukraine. Photo: AFP

Kyiv hopes the war is at a turning point, with Moscow having exhausted its offensive capabilities in seizing a few small cities in the east, while Ukraine now fields long-range Western weapons that can strike behind Russian lines.

Kyiv cites a string of successful strikes on 30 Russian logistics and ammunition hubs, which it says are crippling Russia’s artillery-dominated forces that need to transport thousands of shells to the front each day.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valery Zaluzhny, credited US-supplied advanced long-range rocket systems known as HIMARS with helping to “stabilise the situation” through “major strikes at enemy command points, ammunition and fuel storage warehouses”.

Russia said on Monday that Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had ordered the military to concentrate on destroying Ukraine’s Western-supplied rockets and artillery.

European Union foreign ministers on Monday agreed to provide Ukraine with another 500 million euros ($NZ824m) in EU funds for arms, raising the bloc’s support to 2.5b euros since the war began.

In the south, Ukraine is preparing a counterattack to recapture the biggest swath of territory taken since the invasion. Ukraine reported destroying Russian missile systems, communications, radar, ammunition depots and armoured vehicles in strikes in the southern Kherson region.

In the east, Ukrainian forces withdrew at the start of July from Luhansk, one of two provinces Russia claims on behalf of its separatist proxies.

Kyiv says Moscow is planning another assault to capture the last Ukrainian-held pocket of neighbouring Donetsk province.

– Reuters

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