Day 127 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Syria Recognized the Separatist "Republics" in Donbas, Zelensky broke Diplomatic Relations with Assad
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Syria has recognized the DPR and LPR
Syria has decided to recognize the independence and sovereignty of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, SANA news agency and Syrian state television reported, citing an official source from the foreign ministry.
"Embodying the common will and desire to improve relations in all areas, the Syrian Arab Republic has decided to recognize the independence and sovereignty of both the Luhansk People's Republic and the Donetsk People's Republic," the SANA source said.
The publications say the Syrian side will contact the two "republics" on agreements to strengthen co-operation and establish diplomatic relations.
Bashar al-Assad's intention to recognize the DPR was announced in mid-June by separatist leader Denis Pushilin, during the visit of a DPR delegation to Damascus.
On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of the DPR and LPR within the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine, which separatists and the Russian army are still trying to reach with bloody fighting and the destruction of Ukrainian cities. Three days later, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, aimed at protecting the people of the self-proclaimed republics.
Apart from Russia, the independence of the DPR and LPR was recognized by South Ossetia (in 2014) and Abkhazia (in 2022) - territories that seceded from Georgia also with the help of the Russian army, but internationally unrecognized.
Zelensky breaks off diplomatic relations with Syria
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced last night that he was ending diplomatic relations with Syria, AFP reported.
"There will no longer be relations between Ukraine and Syria," Zelensky said in a video on Telegram, arguing that "the pressure of sanctions" against Damascus, an ally of Russia, "will become even greater." "This is a trivial story," he said contemptuously, preferring to focus on the signing in Brussels of an agreement on a "visa-free" regime for goods from Ukraine to the European Union.
95 Azovstal defenders returned to Ukraine after the largest prisoner exchange in the war so far
Ukraine and Russia exchanged 144 prisoners of war yesterday. This is the largest exchange since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24.
Moscow has returned to Kyiv 144 prisoners of war, including 95 "defenders of Azovstal" in Mariupol, who defended the port city, which was besieged by the Russian army for several weeks before laying down arms, reported the General Directorate of Intelligence, which reports to Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
The Central Intelligence Agency of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said that most of the prisoners of war who returned to Ukraine were seriously injured.
"Immediately after their release, all our heroes received medical assistance and appropriate care. The Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War continues to work on the release of all Ukrainian prisoners of war," they said.
Last night, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky announced the exchange.
"Optimistic and very important news: 144 Ukrainian soldiers from Russian captivity have returned home. 59 servicemen from the National Guard, 30 - naval, 28 - army, 17 border guards, 9 Teroboronovtsi and one policeman. The oldest of those released is 65 years old, and the youngest - at 19. Let's do everything possible in order to bring home every Ukrainian," he said.
According to photos shown by Ukrainian intelligence, the exchange took place on the road bridge over the Yanchekrak River in Kamenskoye in the Zaporizhzhia region.
VSU with success in Donbas and near Kharkov
Ukrainian soldiers stopped the offensive and inflicted significant losses on the occupiers in the area of the villages of Klynove and Novoluhanske in Donbas, the VSU General Staff announced on its Facebook page.
"In the direction of Bakhmut, shelling was registered near Berestovo, Pokrovskoye and Zvanovka and an air strike near Pokrovskoye. Ukrainian troops halted the offensive and inflicted significant damage on the occupiers in the area of the villages of Klynove and Novoluhanskoye, as well as repelled an attack in the direction of the Uglegorsk thermal power plant. In both cases, the enemy withdrew"the report said.
In the Kramatorsk direction, the enemy did not conduct active hostilities, firing artillery at Ukrainian positions.
In the Avdiyska, Kurakhovska, Novopavlivska and Zaporizhzhia regions, the Russians shelled the areas of Vodiane, Avdiyska, Marinka, Ugledar, Poltavka, Novoukrainska, Novoselska and Orehovska regions. Air strikes were inflicted on the positions of VSU near Avdievka and Shterbakov. There were attempts at assault operations near Pavlovka, but Russian forces were unsuccessful and withdrew.
The occupiers attacked and tried to block Lysychansk in the Luhansk region.
Ukrainian forces have repulsed the attack of the occupiers near Dementievka, and the enemy is retreating, VSU also announced.
"In the Kharkiv direction, the enemy continues to defend the pre-occupied positions. Shelling from tanks, mortars, gunpowder and missile artillery in the areas of the city of Kharkiv, in the settlements of Pitomnik, Ukrainka, Pobeda, Dementievka, Prudyanka, Korobochkino and Rubizhne. Our defenders resolutely suppressed an attempt for an enemy attack near the village of Dementievka. The occupiers withdrew. Air strikes were inflicted near Prudyanka and Gorni Saltov,"the report said.
The enemy regrouped its troops and defended itself in the direction of Sloviansk. They fired artillery of various calibers in the areas of Mazanovka, Dubravno and Krasnopole, VSU added.
Kharkiv is under constant fire from the Russian army. In this regard, Ukrainian forces fortified the city with several protective rings. In turn, workers and builders from Kharkiv are helping the military equip defense facilities to protect the city.
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