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Ukraine live briefing: Kyiv claims some gains in southeast as fighting intensifies


Ukrainian service members of the 35th Separate Marines Brigade attend military drills at a training ground in Donetsk region on July 24. (Reuters)

Ukraine has reported gains in the southeast after launching a new counteroffensive push. Ukrainian troops in the Donetsk region said they had recaptured a village, which would be the first that Kyiv reclaims from Russia in weeks. The Washington Post could not independently verify the claim.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Ukrainian forces “are gradually moving forward” south of the eastern city of Bakhmut, but “battles are quite tough.” Russian President Vladimir Putin, in St. Petersburg for the Kremlin’s Russia-Africa Summit, said that fighting in southeastern Ukraine had intensified.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Battles have raged along Ukraine’s front lines, as Ukrainian troops made slow but steady advances in their counteroffensive to push through the Russian-held south, The Post reported, citing officials in Kyiv. Ukraine aims to reach the Sea of Azov, which would sever Moscow’s land bridge to Crimea, though its forces remain far from the sea. Ukraine has in recent weeks launched attacks on Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Ukrainian forces mounted offensive actions in Zaporizhzhia on Friday. Putin said earlier that “most of the armed clashes” have taken place in the southern Ukrainian region. A U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity had said that it was unclear what the moves may be, but that a boost in Ukrainian forces in Zaporizhzhia could be the result of fresh troops probing Russian lines or replacing fatigued units.

Putin said “Russia’s attention to Africa is growing steadily” and that this “is reflected in our plans to step up our diplomatic presence on the continent.” He said Russia was “ready to restore and open new Russian missions abroad.” The Russian leader, seeking to boost ties, is hosting African leaders at the St. Petersburg summit, although far fewer African heads of state are attending compared to the first Russia-Africa summit in 2019.

North Korea showcased new drones at a military parade attended by leader Kim Jong Un, alongside Russian and Chinese officials, North Korean state media said Friday. As it marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War armistice agreement, North Korea this week opened its borders to visitors for the first time since the pandemic began, including Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The Wagner Group’s presence in Belarus has triggered concern on Ukraine’s northern border, The Post reports. Ukraine has been beefing up defenses nearby since Putin allowed Wagner chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his fighters to avoid punishment for their short-lived mutiny last month by moving to Belarus.

Ukraine’s defense ministry said a U.S. citizen was killed in battle near Bakhmut. It identified him as a volunteer fighter and former Green Beret named Nicholas Maimer, the latest American veteran to die fighting alongside Ukrainian forces. Kyiv has said thousands of foreign fighters joined the battle as part of its foreign legion.

Russian air defenses shot down a Ukrainian drone targeting sites in Moscow, with no reports of casualties or damage, the Russian Defense Ministry said early Friday. The Post could not independently verify the claim.

Ukrainian world-champion fencer Olga Kharlan was disqualified from the Fencing World Championships in Milan after refusing to shake hands with defeated Russian opponent Anna Smirnova, which is mandatory in fencing. In a video on Instagram, Kharlan said she “acted with her heart” and “screamed in pain” after being disqualified. “The rules have to change because the world is changing,” she said.

A Ukrainian presidential adviser described Russia’s promises of grain for African nations as “blackmail” after the Kremlin pulled out of the U.N.-backed deal that allowed the flow of Ukrainian grain to the world. Moscow’s withdrawal from the grain deal was “dramatically increasing the negative effects of drought and food shortages on the African continent,” Mykhailo Podolyak said after Putin told African leaders that Russia could replace Ukrainian grain.

China has become an “even more critical economic partner” for Moscow during the war, according to a newly released unclassified Office of the Director of National Intelligence report, dated June 2023. The report said China has mitigated the effects of Western sanctions on Russia and says it is an “increasingly important buttress” for Russia’s war effort.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill that would extend the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative through fiscal year 2027, quashing partisan efforts to limit aid to Kyiv, The Post reported. The bill is expected to spark heated negotiations with the House.

Ukrainians are breaking their ties with the Russian language: Across Ukraine, people are shredding Russian literature, changing street names to honor Ukrainians rather than Russian writers and renaming Russian dishes on menus, Francesca Ebel and Kostiantyn Khudov report.

“For many people, it has become impossible to speak Russian because it is the language of the enemy,” said Iryna Pobidash, an associate professor of linguistics at Kyiv’s Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute.

Serhiy Morgunov contributed to this report.


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