Ukraine military reports attempts by Russia to advance on several towns in Donetsk as the conflict enters 173rd day.

A crater left after a Russian rocket attack on Friday night which killed at least three people is seen next to damaged homes in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine on August 13, 2022.
A crater left after a Russian rocket attack on Friday night which killed at least three people is seen next to damaged homes in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine on August 13, 2022. (David Goldman / AP)

Monday, August 15, 2022

Ukraine military says repelled Russia attacks in Donbass

The Ukrainian military has said that it had repelled more than a dozen Russian attacks in the country’s east and north, including attempts to advance on key cities in the eastern industrial heartland of Donbass.

In its Facebook update, the military's general staff said Russian troops had attempted to push towards Kramatorsk, one of two major cities in the eastern Donetsk province which has  remained under Ukrainian control, but "they failed completely and chaotically retreated to their previous positions." The military said Russian forces had staged an unsuccessful assault on Bakhmut, a strategic town in Donetsk whose capture would pave the way for Russia to take Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

The Donetsk region is one of two provinces that make up the Donbass, where the fighting has largely been focused in recent months, since Kremlin forces retreated from around the capital, Kiev.

Ukraine, Russia trade blame on Zaporizhzhia

Fresh shelling near Europe's biggest nuclear plant has renewed a blame game between Ukrainian and Russian-installed officials over who is responsible.

The world nuclear watchdog has warned of disaster if the fighting close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine does not stop. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskky has warned Russian soldiers that if they attack the site in the now Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar, or use it as a base to shoot from, then they will become a "special target".

Russia installed officials in Enerhodar said about 25 heavy artillery strikes from US-made M777 howitzers had hit near the plant, adding Ukrainian forces had opened fire, with blasts near the power plant.

But according to the head of the administration of the Nikopol district, which lies across the river from Enerhodar, it was Russian forces who had shelled the city to try to make it appear that Ukraine was attacking it.

Five Europeans go on trial in separatist-controlled Ukraine

Five Europeans captured in eastern Ukraine went on trial in a court administered by Kremlin-backed separatists in the city of Donetsk, Russian media reported.

The five –– Mathias Gustafsson of Sweden, Vjekoslav Prebeg of Croatia, and Britons John Harding, Andrew Hill and Dylan Healy –– all pleaded not guilty to charges of being mercenaries, according to Russian media reports.

They could face the death penalty under the laws of the self-proclaimed, unrecognised Donetsk People's Republic.

The next court hearing in their case is scheduled for October, Russian media reported.

Several dead in Russian shelling in eastern Ukraine

At least three Ukrainian civilians have been killed and nearly 20 others wounded in the latest artillery barrages from the Russian military, Ukrainian officials say.

The eastern region of Donetsk, one of the two provinces making up the country’s industrial heartland of Donbass that has been the focus of a Russian offensive, has faced the most intense shelling.

Regional officials said at least three people died and another 13 were wounded by Russian shelling that hit numerous towns and villages in the Donetsk region during the last 24 hours. 

Ukraine expects to receive $12-16B from Western partners

Ukraine expects to receive another $12 billion to $16 billion from its Western partners by the end of this year, the country’s finance minister has said.

In an interview with RBK-Ukraine, Serhiy Marchenko said Ukraine's external borrowing target since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on February 24 was at around $26 billion, adding that depending on the success of the negotiations the amount may go up to $30 billion.

"We have already received $14 billion and before the end of the year, we can get another $12 to $16 billion," he said.

Ukraine: at least 10 more ships to be loaded with grain by end of August

Six ships are currently being loaded with grain at the Ukrainian ports and at least 10 more ships will be loaded with grain products by the end of this month, the country’s deputy infrastructure minister has said.

Yuriy Vaskov said that 8,000 tonnes of corn will be loaded on Sara ship, which entered the Odesa port on the evening of August 14, and 7,500 tonnes of oil on Efe ship.

"In two weeks of the grain corridor, 16 ships left the Ukrainian ports to deliver about half a million tons of Ukrainian grain products to nine countries of the world," Vaskov said.

On July 22, Türkiye, the United Nations, Russia, and Ukraine signed an Ankara-brokered deal in Istanbul to reopen three Ukrainian Black Sea ports for exporting Ukrainian grain stuck due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which is now in its sixth month.

Putin boasts of Russian weapons prowess

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow was ready to sell advanced weapons to allies globally and cooperate in developing military technology, nearly six months into the Ukraine conflict.

The Kremlin leader, addressing an arms show outside Moscow, insisted Russian weaponry was years ahead of the competition.

Russia cherished its strong ties with Latin America, Asia and Africa, "and is ready to offer partners and allies the most modern types of weapons — from small arms to armoured vehicles and artillery, combat aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles", he said.

Russia to facilitate IAEA visit to Ukrainian nuclear plant 

Russia has said it will do "everything necessary" to allow specialists from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine amid fears over the plant's safety due to shelling.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe, was captured by Russia in March shortly after the start of its attacks on Ukraine. The plant has come under fire in recent days, with Moscow and Kiev blaming each other for the shelling, which they both say risks a nuclear accident.

"In close cooperation with the Agency and its leadership, we will do everything necessary for the IAEA specialists to be at the station and give a truthful assessment of the destructive actions of the Ukrainian side," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement published on Monday.

Ukraine to resume excise tax on fuel to replenish budget

The Ukrainian government has asked parliament to partially restore excise tax on petrol and diesel fuel to boost the state budget, depleted by months of fighting with Russia, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said.

He said the resumption of excise tax at $101.96 per 1,000 litres could provide the state budget with about $135.54 million each month amid a monthly deficit of about $5 billion.

"The finance ministry is in a challenging situation," Kubrakov told a televised briefing. "Any additional revenues to the budget from taxes that were previously cancelled are essential and matter."

Zelenskyy defends fighting as all eyes are on Zaporizhzhia plant

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has defended fighting against Russian and Moscow-backed forces, including those positioned at Europe’s largest nuclear power station in Zaporizhzhia.

As Ukrainian forces reported heavy Russian shelling and attempts to advance on several towns in the eastern region of Donetsk, they said many of the attacks were repelled. The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces also reported Russian shelling of more than a dozen towns on the southern front – particularly in Kherson, mainly controlled by Russian forces.

Zelenskyy noted that Ukraine had many times proposed different formats to the Russian leadership for peace talks, without progress.

“So we have to defend ourselves, we have to answer every form of terror, every instance of shelling — the fierce shelling which does not let up for a single day,” he said in video remarks.

For live updates from Sunday (August 14), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies