Ukrainian forces using precision artillery supplied by the United States have severely damaged a bridge vital to Russian army supply lines in occupied Kherson, Ukrainian authorities said on Wednesday.
“Successful missile strikes on bridges over Dnipro river by #UAarmy create impossible dilemma for Russian occupiers in #Kherson”, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense tweeted. “Retreat or be annihilated by #UAarmy. The choice is theirs.
The bridge is one of two crossings over the river that Russia uses to transport personnel and equipment to the territories it occupies. The strike was not intended to destroy the bridge but to make it impossible for the Russian military to use, said spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command Nataliya Gumenyuk.
The Ukrainians used a high-mobility artillery rocket system that the United States has provided in recent weeks. Russia has relied on less accurate artillery to indiscriminately bombard civilian areas since its invasion began five months ago.
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►A “hero of Ukraine” died in combat on Tuesday, the army reported. Major Oleksandr Kukurba, 28, was intelligence chief of a tactical aviation brigade. In April, Kukurba was awarded the Hero of Ukraine title and a military gold star for personal bravery and heroism. Three days of mourning began on Wednesday.
►Germany has approved the sale of 100 tank howitzers worth $1.7 billion, according to Der Spiegel and other media. The deal is worth about three times the value of what Germany has so far provided to Ukraine.
►Ukraine estimated that total Russian combat losses included more than 40,000 soldiers killed or wounded as well as the destruction of 1,738 tanks and 3,971 armored vehicles. Neither nation is releasing details of its own losses.
►Inflation in Ukraine rose from 10% in January to 21.5% in June, “mainly due to war-induced shocks and global price pressures”, the National Bank of Ukraine said.
►The Ukrainian parliament has approved the prosecutor general post of lawmaker Andriy Kostin, a stalwart of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s party. Kostin replaces Iryna Venediktova, who was removed from her position this month due to fears of betrayal within the ranks of the office.
US made ‘substantial’ offer to release fellow American Griner
WNBA star Brittney Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan could be released from captivity in Russia under the terms of a deal offered by the Biden administration, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.
It is not yet clear whether Russia will accept the deal, but Blinken’s acknowledgment and his revelation that he intends to communicate with his Kremlin counterpart for the first time since the start of the war means a major reversal of the previous policy.
Blinken said the United States had put “a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago” to facilitate their release and that he intended to make his case in a meeting with the Russian business minister. foreigners Sergei Lavrov. Blinken did not reveal details of the potential prisoner swap, but CNN reported that the United States offered Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer nicknamed “the Death Dealer.”
Griner, who was arrested on drug-related charges at a Moscow airport in February, testified in a Russian court on Wednesday, saying her interpreter only translated a fraction of what she said when questioned after being detained. Griner also testified that she was not given an explanation of her rights or access to counsel and was instructed to sign documents she did not understand.
Griner, 31, pleaded guilty to a drug charge that could carry a 10-year prison sentence.
President Joe Biden’s visit to Ukraine would be a “great signal” of support for the war-torn nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview in Britain to be broadcast on TalkTV on Wednesday. The White House has not revealed any plans for Biden’s trip to Kyiv.
Zelenskyy noted that first lady Jill Biden drew rave reviews in Ukraine during her visit on Mother’s Day. And Zelenskyy said his wife’s visit to the White House and Congress sparked a big reaction in the United States.
“President Biden’s visit to Ukraine would be the strongest signal that could be given in favor of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.
As well-timed, Russia’s top diplomat pointed the finger at the West as he wrapped up his trip to Africa, home to several countries badly hit by war-exacerbated food shortages.
The British Ministry of Defense said in his daily intelligence assessment that during Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s tour of the continent would likely lead Russia to exploit the visit “to blame the West for the international food crisis and win the support of African states that have otherwise remained neutral in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine”.
Indeed, Lavrov dismissed the “so-called food crisis” created by a global spike in food prices, in part the result of Ukraine’s inability to export grain blocked by invading forces. During Wednesday’s stopover in the Ethiopian capital, Lavrov accused the United States and European Union of imposing sanctions, pursuing “reckless” green policies and even hoarding food during the pandemic.
“The situation in Ukraine has additionally affected food markets negatively, but not because of the Russian special operation, but rather because of the absolutely inadequate reaction of the West, which announced sanctions,” Lavrov said.
These sanctions, Western nations have pointed out, do not include food.
The Philippine government abandons its plan to buy Russian helicopters
The Philippine government has dropped a plan to buy 16 Russian military transport helicopters, citing concerns over US sanctions, a former Philippine defense official has said.
Delfin Lorenzana told The Associated Press he canceled the $227 million deal to acquire the Mi-17 helicopters when he was Defense Secretary under former President Rodrigo Duterte. Their terms ended on June 30. Lorenzana said US security officials are aware of Manila’s decision and may offer similar heavy-lift helicopters.
Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez said the deal was canceled because Manila could have faced sanctions under a US law called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
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‘Gas is now part of Russian foreign policy’: EU energy concerns deepen
Russia’s Gazprom was set to halt gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Wednesday after cutting throughput to 20% of its capacity. The energy giant blamed the reduction on the shutdown of another Siemens turbine at the Portovaya compressor station.
Gazprom requires full documentation to verify that the turbines, sent to Canada for maintenance, do not violate sanctions. European leaders dismiss the red tape demands as a ruse by Russia as it seeks to exert political influence over Europe ahead of winter.
“Gas is now part of Russian foreign policy and possibly part of Russian war strategy,” German energy chief Klaus Mueller told Deutschlandfunk radio.
Contributor: The Associated Press