In Bakhmut and Kherson, Ukrainian forces advance against Russian fighters

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Ukrainian forces continued their advance against Russian forces in southern Kherson region on Tuesday, pushing back Russian mercenaries from Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk, gaining new ground in Luhansk and seizing the main highway between the towns of Kremlin and Svatove.

On a day of intense fighting and rapid developments in multiple combat zones, Ukrainians appeared to build on their recent successes in retaking territory and pushing Moscow’s troops back into areas that President Vladimir Putin claims belong to Russia.

Away from the battlefield, the Kremlin has repeatedly claimed without evidence that Kiev is preparing to use a “dirty bomb” combining conventional explosives with radioactive material, a charge the United States has denied. other western countries.

U.S. officials said Moscow’s claims raise the risk that Russia may be planning a radiation attack of its own, a pretext to escalate the war amid an ongoing territorial crisis.

In a statement on Tuesday, Ukraine’s nuclear power operator Energoatom issued a similar warning, citing the Russian military’s control of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Energhodar. “Such actions of the occupiers are considered to be preparation of terrorist activities using nuclear material and radioactive waste stored at the ZNPP site,” Energoatom believes.

Renewed fears of a radiation attack have fueled fears that Putin’s war in Ukraine is becoming increasingly deadly and dangerous.

As Ukraine continues to push for further territorial gains, Russia this month began a relentless bombing campaign against Ukraine’s energy systems, using missiles and attack drones to blacken the country and cover battlefield losses.

The failed invasion of Ukraine led Russia to escalate its nuclear threat, echoing Cold War events like the 1983 nuclear crisis. (Video: Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)

As Ukraine continues to win, pro-Kremlin military bloggers and analysts on Tuesday confirmed new setbacks for the Russian military, including in Lugansk, Ukraine’s easternmost region and Russia’s most tightly held region.

“The Ukrainian army has resumed its counteroffensive in the direction of Luhansk,” the pro-Russian project WarGonzo reported in a daily military update, adding that the Ukrainian army has taken control of the main highway between Luhansk’s Svatove and the Kremlin.

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“Russian artillery is active on the east bank of the Jerebets River and is trying to stop reinforcements from being sent to the enemy, but the situation is very difficult,” VarGonzo said.

In Donetsk region, Wagner’s paramilitary forces, led by St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, appear to be being driven out of Bakhmut, where mercenaries have been ravaging the city for weeks. While military analysts say the capture of Bakhmut has little strategic value, Prigozhin believes it could reap political rewards, while Russian regular troops are losing ground in other combat zones.

Ukrainian forces recaptured a concrete factory on the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War reported on Monday. On Sunday, Prigogine acknowledged that Wagner’s efforts were slow, saying that the mercenaries were gaining only 100 to 200 meters a day.

“Our units are constantly facing the fiercest resistance of the enemy, and I note that the enemy is very well trained, motivated, confident and harmonious,” Prigozhin said in a statement published by the catering company’s press office. “It won’t stop our warriors from advancing, but I can’t say for how long.”

In the southern Kherson region, which Moscow claims to have annexed, Russian forces appeared to be preparing to defend the city of Kherson, where they were expected to retreat east of the Dnieper and give up important territory.

Refugees from Kherson, Ukraine, occupied by Russia, arrive by bus in Jankoy, Crimea on October 24 (Video: Reuters, Photo: Reuters/Reuters)

Ukraine’s military said in an operation update on Tuesday that Russian troops had established “defensive positions” along the east bank of the Dnieper River, leaving small passages through which they could retreat from the west bank.

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Speculation has swirled for weeks as to whether Moscow was preparing to abandon Kherson after the Ukrainian army made steady gains in the south.

“I don’t know all the details and plans of the command, but from a military point of view, I do not rule out the surrender of Kherson,” said a popular Russian military blogger. Zapiski writes under the name Veterana, he wrote in his Telegram post. “But if Moscow decided to fight until victory, then I think there is nothing tragic in the surrender of Kherson, because this war has been going on here for a long time.”

Moscow may not have a choice. “Russia’s position in the upper Kherson region is impossible,” the Institute of Military Studies said.

Kremlin-installed officials are forcing residents to evacuate from the west bank of the Dnieper amid accusations of a “dirty bomb” and no evidence that Kiev is preparing to attack the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant.

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The United States, France and Britain have accused Moscow of using the dirty bomb allegations as a pretext for escalation and warned that Putin’s government would face further sanctions from the West.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin called Washington’s disbelief in Russia’s statement an “unacceptable and frivolous attitude.”

After a two-week bombing campaign that systematically targeted Moscow’s energy infrastructure, Kiev is increasingly concerned about the harsh winter ordinary citizens are enduring. Ukrainian officials have been demanding more sophisticated weapons from European authorities for the past few weeks, particularly advanced air defense systems to counter Russian airstrikes.

The country is also facing an urgent cash crunch, and officials are raising questions about how Ukraine will secure funding to keep services running in the coming weeks and months. According to the forecasts released by the World Bank at the beginning of October, the economy of Ukraine was predicted to fall by 35 percent this year.

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Germany and the European Union held a conference on reconstruction in Berlin on Tuesday, but the talks seemed especially premature given the Russian offensive, which brings new devastation every day.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said that Ukraine needs urgent economic aid of USD 38 billion in the next year alone. But while top officials are constantly clamoring for EU support for Ukraine, there are questions about the immediate and long-term results.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has spoken of a plan to help Ukraine until 2023, but EU officials have admitted to delaying the delivery of a $9 billion loan to Kiev promised earlier this year.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has in recent weeks pressed her European partners to increase financial aid to Kiev, implicitly questioning the decision to provide loans rather than grants.

“We call on our partners and allies to join us in moving faster and doing more on our commitments to Ukraine,” Yellen said this month. In a video at last week’s European Council summit in Brussels, Zelensky called out European leaders for failing to deliver much-needed economic aid quickly enough.

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“Thank you for the allocation earlier,” Zelensky said. “However, a decision has yet to be made on the remaining $6 billion from this package, which is desperately needed this year.”

“Today, it is in your power to reach an agreement in principle to provide this assistance to our country,” he continued.

Given the current unmet need, some wonder how seriously the EU will take its commitment to a Marshall Plan-scale effort. A Q&A published by Germany’s group of seven presidencies ahead of Tuesday’s conference noted that the event would not include a “commitment section”. But the purpose of this is “to highlight the unity of the international community and its steadfast support for Ukraine.”

In private interviews, some EU diplomats have questioned whether the bloc should allocate funds to rebuild war-torn countries, particularly given Europe’s energy and economic crises.

Speaking in Berlin on Tuesday, von der Leyen focused on finding common ground in Brussels on emergency energy measures for EU member states.

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