BETTING À DAY
Ukraine on Tuesday claimed territorial gains from the Russians near the devastated city of Bakhmout, the epicenter of fighting for months, after repelling a barrage of Russian missiles overnight and ahead of a visit by an envoy Chinese in Kiev.
Russia has been in difficulty for several days by a Ukrainian counter-attack on its flanks in Bakhmout, a city which it now controls by more than 90% despite growing tensions between the army and the paramilitary group Wagner on the spot.
“In recent days, our troops have liberated about 20 square kilometers north and south of the outskirts of Bakhmout,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Maliar said.
According to her, the however, Russian troops continued to advance into the city itself, where they besieged the last pockets of Ukrainian resistance in the west, “completely destroying the city with artillery”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has nonetheless tempered expectations by emphasizing that this is not the highly anticipated large-scale counter-offensive, which Kiev has been preparing for months and for which its army “needs more time
Deluge of fire
Overnight, Ukraine claimed to have repelled a new deluge of fire by shooting down six Russian Kinjal hypersonic missiles that Russia says were impossible to intercept and 12 other devices including missiles of Kalibr cruisers, S-400 anti-aircraft and Iskander ballistics, but also Iranian-made drones.
While the Ukrainian forces congratulated themselves on having destroyed all the Russian missiles in flight, Moscow assured that it had “hit all the targets”, including “deployment points of the Ukrainian armed forces” and Western ammunition and weapons depots .
Overnight, AFP journalists saw Ukrainian air defense in Kiev in action, lighting up the night sky to destroy Russian missiles targeting the capital.
< i class="fa fa-times">
The Kinjal (“Dagger” in Russian) missile is one of the weapons touted as “invincible” by Russian President Vladimir Putin, with Moscow saying its hypersonic speed allows it to challenge most air defense systems.
The Ukraine had, however, announced for the first time that it had shot down a Russian Kinjal missile in early May, thanks to the powerful American anti-aircraft system Patriot, delivered to Kiev in April.
The Russian army, for its part, assured that it had achieved its objectives, but also had destroyed an American Patriot system in Kiev and intercepted seven British long-range Storm Shadow missiles, the delivery of which was announced last week by London.
According to the capital's mayor, Vitali Klitschko, three people were injured in the attack, which happened hours before Chinese envoy Li Hui was expected to arrive in Kyiv for a two-day visit .
Former Chinese Ambassador
Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs, former Chinese Ambassador to Moscow, Li Hui is supposed to discuss the “political settlement” of the Ukrainian conflict. He must also go to Poland, France, Germany and Russia.
According to a Ukrainian government source interviewed by AFP, the Chinese envoy must meet in Kiev the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kouleba, and other senior officials.
China, a close partner of Russia, has never publicly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She only offered a 12-point plan to end the war, viewed with skepticism by Westerners.
A peace mission led by six African leaders must leave “as soon as possible” in Ukraine and Russia, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday, adding that Kiev and Moscow had “agreed to receive it”. /p>
This Russian attack also comes the day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky returned to Kiev after a European tour that took him to Italy, the Vatican, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
“Back home with (…) new and powerful weapons for the front,” Mr. Zelensky announced in a video message, after obtaining new pledges of aid.
M . Zelensky notably obtained long-range attack drones and anti-aircraft missiles from the United Kingdom. He also said he was “very optimistic” about potential deliveries of Western combat aircraft, which European countries have so far refused to provide.
On the diplomatic front, the 46 member states from the Council of Europe gather for a summit in Iceland to show their unity against Moscow.
The meeting, only the fourth of the pan-European organization in nearly 75 years of existence, aims to multiply ways to make Russia criminally responsible for the destruction and crimes caused by its invasion of Ukraine.
Another big topic, the extension of the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports was still uncertain on Tuesday, the Kremlin saying there were “many questions” to be resolved.