Ukraine announced more advances in the east and south: kyiv troops tighten the siege on Bakhmut

FILE PHOTO: A Ukrainian soldier from the 57th Separate Motorized Infantry Brigade Kost Hordiienko fires a 2S22 Bohdana self-propelled howitzer (REUTERS / Sofiia Gatilova) (STRINGER /)

Ukraine said on Monday that its troops were advancing in the this and the south of the country and pointed out that they were tightening the siege on the Russian troops occupying the eastern city of Bakhmut.

The Vice Minister of Defence, hanna malarysaid Kiev troops had recaptured 10.2 square kilometers (km2) of territory in the south and 4 in the east in the last week of counteroffensive against Russian forces.

Ukrainian forces had also seized control of the main command heights around Bakhmut and had established a control fire on the entrances and exits of the shattered city, he said on the Telegram messaging application.

The Ukrainian army said its troops had recovered 169 km2 on the southern front and 24 km2 around Bakhmut since the counter-offensive began early last month.

Ukrainian soldiers prepare a launch in Bakhmut (REUTERS / Sofiia Gatilova)
Ukrainian soldiers prepare a launch in Bakhmut (REUTERS / Sofiia Gatilova) (STRINGER /)

All of us want to do it faster because every day means new losses of Ukrainians. We’re going forward. we are not stagnant”Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky told the US television network abc ahead of a NATO summit in Lithuania on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We would all love for the counteroffensive to take place in less time. But there is a reality. Today, the initiative is on our side.”

The pro-Russian Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has declared that one of his units is deployed in the Bakhmut area. Russian reports in recent days had suggested that Kadýrov, whose forces have been active since the start of the war, was either sick, injured or “on vacation”.

NATO allies discuss Ukraine’s accession path

The President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelensky (REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File)
The President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelensky (REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File) (VALENTYN OGIRENKO/)

On the eve of the summit to be held in Lithuaniathe members of the NATO They remained divided on Monday on how to steer Ukraine towards membership, but appeared to have removed a key obstacle to kyiv joining the alliance.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he presented a package that included removing the requirement for a Membership Action Plan (MAP), a list of political, economic and military targets that other Eastern European nations had to comply before joining the alliance.

However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is expected to attend the summit, wants a clear invitation in Vilnius to join the alliance once the war with Russia ends, and security guarantees until then.

NATO members in eastern Europe, under Moscow’s rule for decades in the last century, back the Ukrainian position.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda receives United States President Joe Biden in Vilnius (REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque)
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda receives United States President Joe Biden in Vilnius (REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque) (KEVIN LAMARQUE /)

But others, like the United States and Germany, have been more cautious, wary of any move they fear might drag NATO into direct conflict with Russia and potentially trigger a world war.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that there was a consensus among the allies to leave the MAP, but added that “It is also the best time to offer clarity on the invitation to Ukraine to become a member.”

Stoltenberg told a press conference that there will be more meetings throughout the day: “No final decision has been made, but at the summit I am absolutely sure that we will have unity and a strong message on Ukraine.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited NATO’s expansion towards his borders over the past two decades as the reason for his decision to send his armed forces to Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Claims that “Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO” and that it will join “when conditions permit” are some of the phrases being discussed, diplomats say, as they try to find acceptable wording for the 31 members of the alliance.

(With information from Reuters)

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