Russia, Belarus hold “unannounced” drill near Polish border.
Almost a week after the Ukrainian military launched a counter-offensive on Russian-held territory in the south, they are reporting a significant breakthrough in the east of the country.
“Ukrainian forces on Friday claimed new success in their counteroffensive against Russian forces in the country’s east, taking control of a sizeable village and pushing toward an important transport junction,” The Associated Press reported Friday.
The latest gains add to the advances made by Ukrainian forces since the beginning of the counter-offensive. “Ukraine says it has retaken more than 1,000 sq km (385 sq miles) of territory in its south and east from Russia in the past week,” the BBC reported late Friday.
Official Russian sources have confirmed the initial Ukrainian gains. “Ukrainian forces have seized an expanding area of previously Russian-held territory in the east in a “very sharp and rapid” advance, a Russian-installed regional official said on Friday,” Reuters reported.
TheSky News (UK) reported the Ukrainian push:
Ukraine advances 50km near Kharkiv, liberates more than 20 villages
Ukraine has advanced 50km into Russian-held territory near Kharkiv and liberated more than 20 villages, one of its generals has said. (…)
A Ukrainian general (…) said Ukraine had recaptured more than 700 square kilometres of its territory in the Kharkiv region and in the south.
They said the country’s military had advanced 50km into Russian lines in the region and recaptured more than 20 villages.
Video appearing to show emotional residents of Balakliya greeting Ukrainian troops who liberated the town after enduring 7 months under Russian occupation.
“The flag of Ukraine in a free Ukrainian city under a free Ukrainian sky,” Zelensky said yest pic.twitter.com/R5JpgO18s5
— Matthew Luxmoore (@mjluxmoore) September 9, 2022
Russia Reinforces Front Line
Responding to the Ukrainian advance, Russia is reinforcing the frontline troops in eastern Ukraine. “Moscow is sending columns of military reinforcements to Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, according to reports in Russian media, after the first major Ukrainian counterattack since spring made big territorial gains this week,” the UK daily Guardian reported Friday.
Reporting the scale of reinforcement, BBC noted: “Russia is believed to be sending reinforcements to the region by road and by air, using giant Mi-26 transport helicopters, each capable of carrying 80 soldiers.”
Russia, Belarus Hold Drill Near Polish Border
As Russian invading forces come under pressure in the east and south of Ukraine, Moscow is carrying out “unannounced” military drills in neighboring Belarus, media reports say. The surprise military exercises are taking place near the Polish border, heightening the tensions between the Kremlin and European NATO member states.
“Belarus has started military exercises by the city of Brest near the Polish border, its capital Minsk and the northeast region of Vitebsk,” the Reuters reported Saturday citing Russian military sources.
The nature of the drills suggest Russian and their allies’ troops are training to dislodge Ukrainian troops in newly regained territories. Belarusian “defence ministry (…) said the exercises, which are set to last a week, will practise “liberating territory temporarily seized by the enemy” and regaining control over border regions,” the British daily Guardian reported Sunday.
The choice of Belarus for staging the surprise drill is significant since Russia used the Belarusian territory to launch its initial pincer attack on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
China, India Surpass EU as Top Russian Energy Buyers
As Moscow cuts oil and gas supply to Europe, China and India are emerging as top importers of Russian energy. The new revenue stream opening up with the Asian giants could substitute the losses faced by Russia in the wake of Western sanctions.
Moscow is already profiting from the recent surge in global energy prices. The European Union and some European leaders have proposed placing a cap on soaring Russian prices, but Germany — highly dependent on the Kremlin for its energy needs — is opposed to the move, which will likely result in a Russian backlash.
The BBC reported earlier this month:
Countries in Asia are turning to Russia for discounted oil as global energy prices remain high, and Western nations seek to scale down their reliance on Russian energy.
India has been increasingly buying up Russian crude, and the latest shipping data shows that China has also been buying more.
In March this year, combined oil imports by China and India from Russia overtook those from the 27 EU member states by volume.
India’s purchases of Russian oil known as Urals (a crude blend typically exported to Europe) increased sharply earlier this year.
India’s imports of another Russian crude blend called East Siberia Pacific Ocean (ESPO) have also seen a rise, shipping information shows.
China has been buying larger quantities of both Urals and ESPO since March. In early July, it was reported to have bought record amounts for the second month in a row.
As Russian slashes their gas and oil supply, the EU has been forced to roll out plans for rationing energy in coming months, triggering fears that people will have to go without electricity and heating during the peek winter months. On September 1, the German government passed a nationwide “Energy Saving Decree” ordering business and household to conserve energy.
The rationing of energy and skyrocketing fuel prices are triggering protests across Europe, with Germany and Czech Republic witnessing large scale anti-government and anti-EU protests.
On Friday, Germany’s right-wing opposition party “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD) launched its “Our Country First” campaign, positioning itself at the helm of the emerging anti-establishment protest movement in the wake of the European energy crisis.DONATE
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