Day 727 of the Invasion of Ukraine: After Avdiivka Russia Turns Its Attention To The South

World » UKRAINE | February 20, 2024, Tuesday // 12:27
Bulgaria: Day 727 of the Invasion of Ukraine: After Avdiivka Russia Turns Its Attention To The South

Day 727 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • After the capture of Avdiivka: Russia turned its attention to the south
  • Zelensky: The army is facing an extremely difficult situation in some parts of the front
  • Seven countries summoned Russian ambassadors over Navalny's death
  • Navalny's body will be held for another 2 weeks for "chemical analysis”
  • Sweden grants Ukraine military aid for another 682 million dollars
  • Vladimir Putin will deliver his annual address to the Federal Assembly on February 29
  • Bomb attack in Odesa, there are injured people
  • A Russian-American citizen was detained in Yekaterinburg
  • Deserted Russian pilot found dead in Spain

After the capture of Avdiivka: Russia turned its attention to the south

Russian forces are moving into Zaporizhzhia region and have stepped up in the Robotyne region, Ukrainian forces said, days after the devastated town of Avdiivka in Donetsk region was seized by Moscow following the withdrawal of Kyiv's army.

Ukrainian channels (such as Deep State, close to the armed forces) and Russian "military correspondents" wrote about attacks in the Robotyne region and its surroundings. The spokesman of the "Tavria" group, Dmytro Likhovoi, said that the enemy made a dozen unsuccessful attempts near Robotyne.

Rybar, close to the Russian Defense Ministry, claimed that Russian forces had moved closer to the outskirts.

The Institute for the Study of War reported "confirmed progress" near Robotyne and intensified operations in the western part of the Zaporizhzhia region.

Robotyne is in an area where Ukraine made progress in what was otherwise considered a not-so-successful counteroffensive in the south over the summer. The national flag flew there in August 2023.

After the capture of Avdiivka, however, Russia was expected by some observers to turn its attention either to the rest of the Donetsk region it does not control, or to the territories that Ukraine had managed to recapture in the course of the counteroffensive.

On Monday afternoon, the Telegram channel War Gonzo reported that Russian forces were making a tactical advance in the Robotyne region from Novoprokopivka and Verbove.

Meanwhile, Russia has stepped up attacks in southern and eastern Ukraine: the Ukrainian military said 23 drones were launched in Kharkiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and other regions.

Another target of the attacks, after the forces in Avdiivka were freed for further attacks, is likely to be Chasiv Yar, a town west of Bakhmut, less than 100 km north of Donetsk. It was virtually destroyed around the Battle of Bakhmut last winter and spring, and it is believed that only a few hundred people live there (out of a pre-war population of 12,000).

"Every few minutes Russian artillery shells whistle over Chasiv Yar," wrote the correspondent of "El Pais" in Ukraine. "The exchange of fire does not stop. You can only see military vehicles and soldiers going in and out of the basements", and machine gun fire is constantly heard.

The newspaper calls the city the Kremlin's next target in the Donetsk region. There are many indications of this "and the tactics of the siege are repeated: as in Avdiivka", and at the beginning the artillery mercilessly destroys the infrastructure of the municipality, the publication continues. No major infantry offensives yet. The initial stage was the same in Bakhmut. According to a Ukrainian interlocutor of the publication, the Russian forces are looking to advance evenly in the area in all directions, so as not to surround the part that has made the most progress.

Zelensky: The army is facing an extremely difficult situation in some parts of the front

The Ukrainian army is facing an extremely difficult situation in some parts of the front, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Kyiv has called on the Space X technology company to prevent Russians from using its Internet terminals in occupied areas of Ukraine.

"Now the situation in several places on the front line is very difficult - exactly where the Russian troops have concentrated their reserves to the maximum. They are taking advantage of the delay in aid to Ukraine. These are things that are felt very much - a shortage of artillery, a need for means for air defense at the front and long-range weapons," Zelensky said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on the United States to deliver what it promised. He said it was vital that Congress agree on a $60 billion military aid package for Kyiv. The bill was approved by the Senate, but its future in the lower house looks uncertain after House Speaker Mike Johnson announced he would not bring it up for a vote.

Canada, for its part, announced that it would donate 800 drones to Ukraine to support its actions against Russia.

Ukrainian authorities said they had asked entrepreneur Elon Musk's company Space X to take action to prevent the Russians from using Starlink Internet terminals in their occupied areas of Ukraine.

Last month, the head of Ukraine's military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said that Russian forces were using thousands of terminals after buying them from Russian firms that obtained them through intermediaries.

During his visit to Tokyo, the country's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that Ukraine wants new sanctions against Russia from the EU and Japan. He pointed out that Kyiv expects Brussels to pay attention to the increase in grain exports from Russia.

Seven countries summoned Russian ambassadors over Navalny's death

Germany, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Norway, France and the Baltic states summoned Russian ambassadors to their capitals over the death in prison of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

At the UN, Russia's representative, Vassily Nebenzya, accused the West of politicizing the case with hasty claims that Putin's regime was behind what happened.

Nebenzia stated that the investigation has not yet been completed and the exact cause of the oppositionist's death is not clear.

After the meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs from the European Union, the high representative for foreign policy and security, Josep Borrell, stated that "there is political agreement that the EU's global sanctions mechanism for violation of human rights should bear the name of Alexei Navalny".

Yesterday, Yulia Navalnaya - the widow of the Russian opposition leader, who took part in the meeting in Brussels - promised to continue her husband's fight and called on his supporters to support her.

Josep Borrell specified that the proposal must go through the usual technical procedures.

"This is a way to keep his memory alive," he stressed.

"Alexei Navalny was slowly killed in a Russian prison under Putin's regime," Borrell added.

He specified that the widow Yulia was invited not only to express condolences, but also for political reasons, mainly to give an image to the Russian opposition, which is fighting for people's freedom.

"This is exactly what Alexei wanted and he became a threat to the Kremlin, that's why Putin took away his freedom because he was a threat to him. We also want to support the brave Russians who wanted to pay tribute to Mr. Navalny but were prevented from doing so - some were even sentenced according to the fast procedure, as Navalnaya told us - ‘Putin is not Russia and Russia is not Putin’", he commented.

Borrell expressed hope that the 13th sanctions package against Russia would be ready on February 24, the two-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Navalny's body will be held for another 2 weeks for "chemical analysis”

The family of Alexei Navalny has received a message that his body will not be released for two weeks, the BBC reported. His mother was informed that he was being held for "chemical analysis".

There has been no confirmation of the whereabouts of the body from Russian authorities.

In a video on Monday in which she vowed to continue her work fighting for a "free Russia", Navalny's widow Yulia directly accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of her husband's murder. She also claimed that his body was held until the traces of Novichok poisoning disappeared.

"They are hiding his body - not showing it and not giving it to his mother - and they are lying. They are waiting for the traces of Putin's last Novichok to disappear," she said.

Navalny survived an assassination attempt with Novichok in 2020.

Navalny's death in prison was announced on Friday (February 16). Authorities at the Siberian penal colony where he was held said he had not regained consciousness after collapsing after a walk. His mother and lawyer left for the remote colony as soon as the news of his death broke. Attempts to find the body have been repeatedly thwarted by the prison morgue and local authorities.

The Kremlin said on Monday that the investigation into Navalny's death was ongoing and that there were still no "results".

Later, Navalny's spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said that investigators had told Navalny's mother, Ludmila, that they would not release the body for two weeks while they performed a "chemical analysis."

Navalny, who has been Russia's most prominent opposition leader for the past decade, was serving a 19-year sentence on charges that many believed were politically motivated. Western leaders blamed Navalny's death squarely on President Putin.

The UK foreign secretary, Lord Cameron, said he expected Britain and the rest of the G7 group to impose new sanctions on any Russians involved in the deaths.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said comments by Western politicians regarding Navalny's death were "arrogant" and "unacceptable".

Sweden grants Ukraine military aid for another 682 million dollars

The Swedish Ministry of Defense announced today that the country will grant new military aid to Ukraine, which is worth 7.1 billion Swedish kroner ($682 million), Reuters reported, specifying that the package includes both military equipment and money to buy weapons.

The agency notes that this will be the Scandinavian country's fifteenth, largest-ever, tranche of military aid to Ukraine, with the total value of supplies from Stockholm to Kyiv since the start of Russia's invasion of the neighboring country two years ago already amounting to around 30 billion Swedish kronor crowns.

"We will support Ukraine as long as necessary," Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said at a press conference.

Sweden said the latest package of military aid to Ukraine included artillery pieces and ammunition for them, amphibious assault ships and other equipment.

Vladimir Putin will deliver his annual address to the Federal Assembly on February 29

On February 29, Russian President Vladimir Putin will make his annual address to the Federal Assembly (the two houses of the Russian parliament), the Kremlin announced today, as quoted by Reuters.

"On February 29, 2024, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin will address the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation with an annual message," reports the Kremlin press service.

TASS recalls that, according to the Russian constitution, the president "addresses the Federal Assembly with an annual message about the situation in the country, about the main directions of the country's domestic and foreign policy." In his addresses, the head of state traditionally presents his assessment of the situation in the country and indicates future tasks.

The previous presidential message was in February 2023.

Bomb attack in Odesa, there are injured people

A bomb attack against a car of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army (UVA) near Odesa seriously injured a man and his wife, UNIAN news agency reported.

The local police reported that the explosion took place last night in the village of Gvardeyskoe. The injured were taken to hospital with multiple injuries, the law enforcement authorities said.

Investigative authorities are working at the scene of the incident to clarify the circumstances surrounding the attack.

The UVA is a paramilitary group whose members have been volunteering to fight in eastern Ukraine since 2014. The UVA said in a statement that its vehicle had been blown up near one of its military sites. The spouses Albert and Natalia Crucinini were traveling in the car. Now doctors are fighting for their lives, UNIAN points out.

The main version of the investigators is an attack on Russian sabotage and intelligence groups. The UVA has announced a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators of the attack.

A Russian-American citizen was detained in Yekaterinburg

Russia's Federal Security Service announced today that it has detained a woman with American and Russian citizenship on suspicion of treason and fundraising for the Ukrainian army, AFP reported.

The FSB in Yekaterinburg announced that it had stopped the "illegal activities" of a 33-year-old woman, a resident of Los Angeles and a dual citizen. She is detained.

The unnamed woman "proactively collected funds, which were subsequently used to buy tactical items, equipment, ammunition for the Ukrainian army," the FSB said.

RIA Novosti published a video from the office showing officers escorting a woman in handcuffs and wearing a hood over her eyes.

According to the FSB, she acted "against the security of our country" and assisted the Ukrainian military while in the US.

Deserted Russian pilot found dead in Spain

A Russian helicopter pilot who defected to Ukraine about six months ago was found shot dead in Spain, Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov said yesterday, quoted by DPA.

The spokesman gave no further details about the circumstances surrounding the pilot's death.

According to information in Ukrainian media, he was living in Spain with his girlfriend when he was killed. The Spanish authorities have not yet commented on the case.

Pilot Maxim Kuzminov flew from Russia to Ukraine last August in a Mi-8 military helicopter in full combat gear. After landing at a Ukrainian airport, the two other crew members tried to escape but were shot dead, a Ukrainian source said.

Kuzminov received nearly $496,000 from Ukrainian intelligence for his defection and handing over the Russian helicopter to the Ukrainian army. Russian state television reported in the fall that Russian special services had been ordered to kill the man Moscow considers a traitor.

Ukraine has announced a maximum reward of $990,000 for Russian defectors who surrender along with their entrusted combat aircraft, DPA said.

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Tags: Avdiivka, Russia, Ukraine, Navalny

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