Day 393 of the Invasion of Ukraine: At Least 14 Dead after Russian Strikes on Civillian Infrastructure
Day 393 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- Ukraine plans to "soon take advantage" of Russian fatigue in Bakhmut
- Slovakia delivered the first four of the promised MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine
- Ukraine will respond to all Russian attacks, Zelensky said
- Zelensky visited Kherson and promised to restore everything
- 14 killed in Russian drone and missile attack in Ukraine
- Bartholomew: The Russian Church shares the blame for the crimes in Ukraine
- Russia will deploy additional missile systems on the Kuril Islands
- Lavrov on the supply of depleted uranium munitions: A step towards a serious escalation in Ukraine
- Blinken: China has not "crossed the line" on military aid to Russia
Ukraine plans to "soon take advantage" of Russian fatigue in Bakhmut
Ukraine is preparing a counter-offensive at Bakhmut, the commander of the ground forces Oleksandr Syrsky announced on Telegram. According to him, the Russian forces are exhausted from several months of attempts to capture Bakhmut. "Soon we will use the situation as we did at Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kupiansk," Syrsky wrote.
"The aggressor has not given up on capturing Bakhmut at any cost, despite the loss of manpower and equipment. The main fighting force of Russia on this front is the Wagner mercenary group," he pointed out.
The Ukrainian commander's comment comes a day after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the area of heavy fighting. Kyiv sees Bakhmut as a key city to contain Russian forces along the entire eastern front
Slovakia delivered the first four of the promised MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine
Slovakia has handed over the first four MiG-29 fighter jets it promised to hand over to Ukraine, and the rest of the planes will be delivered in the coming weeks, the Slovak Defense Ministry said, as quoted by Reuters.
Last week, Slovakia joined Poland in announcing the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine. In total, Slovakia said it would give 13 Soviet-made aircraft.
Earlier this week, Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said the United States had offered to sell Slovakia 12 new Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters at a two-thirds discount after Bratislava sent its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.
Ukraine will respond to all Russian attacks, Zelensky said
Ukraine will respond to all Russian attacks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last night, quoted by AFP.
"We will respond with certainty to every strike of the occupiers against our cities. Today's Russian strikes on Zaporizhzhia, the night attack on the Kyiv region. All Russian strikes will receive a military, political and legal response," Zelensky said in his evening address.
Yesterday, he visited the front line near the city of Bakhmut and met with Ukrainian military personnel.
Zelensky visited Kherson and promised to restore everything
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the southern Kherson region, got acquainted with the state of the local infrastructure and promised to "restore everything" after the Russian invasion, Reuters reported.
His arrival in an area where Ukraine launched a successful counteroffensive against Russian occupation forces late last year was his second visit outside Kyiv this week. Yesterday, Zelensky visited the troops around the eastern front line in Bakhmut. "I spoke with local residents about their problems and needs at the moment," Zelensky wrote on Telegram in addition to a video of his visit to Kherson.
"We will restore everything, we will build everything anew. Just like all the towns and villages that suffered from the occupiers".
Ukraine's counteroffensive last year forced Russian troops to withdraw from the regional capital Kherson after months of occupation. Workers in the area are now working to restore power and water.
"We must ensure full recovery and security of our energy sector!" Zelensky wrote in a separate post, which showed him inspecting energy infrastructure.
"I am grateful to everyone who works for this and brings the light back to our people!".
14 killed in Russian drone and missile attack in Ukraine
Russian forces attacked Ukrainian cities in addition to missiles and Iranian drones. Ukrainian air defense has shot down 16 out of a total of 21 drones. At least 14 people were killed in the air strikes. Ukraine, for its part, attacked Sevastopol with drones.
Two dormitories and a vocational high school in Kyiv region are among the sites hit by Russian drone attacks. The strikes took place in the city of Rzhyshchiv, 80 kilometers from Kyiv. At least four people died in the attack there.
"The drones started attacking around 3 a.m. in the morning. Three people died on the spot. Most people went down to the basement, we evacuated 200 people from there. Unfortunately, some remained on the upper floors. One of them, the fourth victim, is a 40-year-old driver , buried by debris on the fifth floor," said Irina Pryanishnikova, a spokeswoman for the Kyiv Oblast police.
Zaporizhzhia. Right now, residential areas where ordinary people and children live are being fired at.— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 22, 2023
This must not become "just another day" in ???????? or anywhere else in the world. The world needs greater unity and determination to defeat Russian terror faster and protect lives. pic.twitter.com/YnocW2yVaU
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attack was an example of Moscow's lack of interest in restoring peace.
A Russian missile hit an apartment block in Zaporizhzhia. At least one person died and 33 were injured.
"Everything started to fall and I had to go down somehow. I went through the ruins. We no longer have an apartment, we have no balcony, nothing," said Artem Meiboroda from Zaporizhzhia.
#Russian invaders attacked the city of #Zaporizhzhia. A multi-storey building is on fire. pic.twitter.com/QGP6MXxIBC— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 22, 2023
Ukraine responded with an over-the-air drone strike against Sevastopol, on the annexed Crimean peninsula. The city's Moscow-appointed administration said the attack had been repelled. Ferries in the area have been suspended.
Volodymyr Zelensky was once again at the frontline positions of Ukrainian soldiers in the Bakhmut region, where the bloodiest and longest battles since the beginning of the Russian invasion have been taking place.
"I have the honor to thank you, to shake your hands. Thank you for protecting our country," Zelensky said.
Zelensky awarded the servicemen with orders. His meeting with the defenders comes as Russian mercenaries from Wagner claim to have taken over 70% of Bakhmut.
Bartholomew: The Russian Church shares the blame for the crimes in Ukraine
The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians said that the influential Russian Orthodox Church shares responsibility for the conflict in Ukraine, but added that he is ready to help with the post-war "spiritual recovery" of Russia, Reuters reported, quoted by BTA.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has rebuked Russian Patriarch Kirill, whose loud blessing of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine has divided Orthodoxy around the world.
Bartholomew, who angered Moscow in 2019 by recognizing the newly proclaimed Orthodox Church of Ukraine, said Russian authorities were using the church as a "tool for their strategic goals".
"Church and state in Russia have cooperated in criminal aggression and share responsibility for subsequent crimes, such as the shocking abductions of Ukrainian children. Our interfaith dialogue must focus on ways to counter and neutralize the capacity of the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate to undermine our unity and through theology to legitimize criminal behavior," Bartholomew said at a conference organized by the Lithuanian parliament.
The Russian Orthodox Church did not immediately comment on the words of the Ecumenical Patriarch, according to Reuters.
The Ecumenical Patriarch is based in Istanbul and is considered "first among equals" in the Orthodox Church, which has about 260 followers worldwide, of which about 100 million are in Russia.
"The Mother Church in Constantinople is ready to help her children in Ukraine and Russia again, as she has done many times in the past. It is our common Christian duty to use the power of dialogue to bring our Russian brothers and sisters back to our shared values", he added, stressing the need for "spiritual recovery" in both Russia and Ukraine.
Russia will deploy additional missile systems on the Kuril Islands
Paramushir, one of the Kuril Islands in the North Pacific Ocean, is home to a unit of its Bastion coastal defense missile systems, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the move was part of a broader strengthening of Russian defenses in the vast Far Eastern regions. It is being held in response to what he calls US efforts to "contain" Russia and China.
Shoigu spoke to Russia's top military command a day after President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping cemented their "limitless" partnership at Kremlin talks with agreements to deepen energy and military cooperation.
"To deter Russia and China, the United States is significantly increasing its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, strengthening its political and military ties with its allies, while continuing to create a new American security architecture in the region," Shoigu said in a video on his address, published by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
He declared that the Bastion system would strengthen Russian security around the Kuril island chain.
Japan, a close US ally, claims the four southern Kuril Islands, which were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War II, but not Paramushir, one of the northern islands.
The issue still prevents Moscow and Tokyo from signing a peace treaty that would formally end hostilities.
Over the past year, Russian armed forces in the eastern part of the country have received about 400 units of advanced military equipment, including SU-57 fighter jets and anti-aircraft missile systems, according to Shoigu.
"The military potential of the Eastern Military District has greatly increased," he assured.
According to the statement, the modernization of Moscow's air defense system will be completed this year. Russian officials have blamed Kyiv for a series of drone strikes deep inside Russian territory since the start of the military campaign.
Regarding the war in Ukraine, Shoigu claimed that Russian aerospace forces have so far destroyed more than 20,000 Ukrainian military sites since the start of what Moscow calls its "special military operation".
Lavrov on the supply of depleted uranium munitions: A step towards a serious escalation in Ukraine
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sharply criticized Britain's intention to supply Ukraine with depleted uranium munitions, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced a successful repulse of a Ukrainian drone attack on Sevastopol.
Sergey Lavrov defined London's decision as a step towards a serious increase in escalation in Ukraine. Asked how Russia would respond, he stated:
"As for our reaction to such deliveries, we will of course take that into account in our actions. We have a commitment to the international norms of waging war, we have our military doctrine and as the president (Vladimir Putin) and the minister of defense (Sergei Shoigu), we will be forced to consider that our British colleagues are raising this escalation to a new, very serious level".
Lavrov confirmed that there is currently no international convention banning the use of depleted uranium projectiles and added.
"It is significant that in the absence of a convention, the UN General Assembly regularly considers resolutions calling for the production and use of depleted uranium munitions. Great Britain, the United States and France always vote against such resolutions," noted the Russian first diplomat.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported that a Ukrainian drone attack against the port of Sevastopol had been successfully repelled. He emphasized that two of the three drones were shot down by female servicemen.
In addition, Shoigu awarded orders for courage and heroism to the two fighter pilots who neutralized an American reconnaissance drone over the Black Sea last week.
Blinken: China has not "crossed the line" on military aid to Russia
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China has not yet provided significant military aid to Russia, although diplomatic support from Beijing is increasing, AFP reported.
"Until today, they have not crossed that line," Blinken said in response to a Senate committee question on whether China was providing "lethal aid" to Russia.
For weeks, the US has warned publicly that China is considering Russian requests for weapons to fight in Ukraine, with some reports pointing to limited supplies from Chinese companies to Moscow.
This week, President Xi Jinping paid a visit to Moscow during which he pushed a Chinese proposal for a ceasefire in the war, a call met with skepticism by Washington, which fears Russia will use the pause to regroup its shattered forces on the ground.
"I think their diplomatic support, political support and to some extent material support for Russia is certainly against our interests in ending this war," Blinken said of China.
According to him, the United States will encourage other countries to extradite Russian President Vladimir Putin if he visits them following the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"I think that anyone who is a party to a lawsuit and has obligations should fulfill them," Blinken said.
He was answering questions from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has insisted the United States should arrest Putin if he ever steps foot on American soil.
The US is not a member of the court at The Hague, and the previous Republican administration of Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the then-ICC prosecutor for investigating US military actions in Afghanistan.
Blinken denied the possibility of Putin traveling to the United States. Russia is part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which holds its summit in November in San Francisco, but Putin is unlikely to be invited.
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