Ukraine mounts a counteroffensive to regain the territory it lost after the Russian invasion. Throughout the country, the Ukrainian army and its territorial defense are leading an advance to recover the main cities in the east of the country, and to weaken the Russian left flank in the north of Kyiv.
The latest success of the Ukrainian army has been the liberation of the town of Irpin northwest of Kyiv, a town that had been conquered during the first days of the war by Russian airborne troops.
In a social media post Mayor of Irpin Oleksander Markushin confirmed that Ukrainian forces had regained control of the town, and sources from the Territorial Defense claim that the Russian troops remaining in the area are surrounded by Ukrainian forces.
According to a report by the NGO Humans Rights Watch, the village of Irpin was subjected to intense shelling by Russian artillery, which even hit humanitarian corridors used for the evacuation of civilians.
The surprise Russian offensive north of Kyiv has been stalled for weeks now, and a long convoy of more than 87 kilometers is stuck along the route leading to Belarus making it vulnerable to Ukrainian mortars and missiles.
Unfortunately, it is not all good news for the Ukrainians. Videos circulating on networks indicate that at least 67 Ukrainian soldiers were captured by the Russians, including several officers. Reports seem to indicate that the troops who surrendered to the Russian force were under-supplied and lacked the ammunition needed to return fire.
Ukrainian authorities also claimed to have retaken several villages around the city of Kharkiv in the Donbass, and many other villages near the city of Sumy further north in the country.
Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the military administration in Kryvyi Rih in the center of the country, said Ukrainian forces had repelled Russian attacks and pushed them back 25 miles from the city.
Meanwhile, in the southeastern Ukrainian coastal area, the city of Mariupol is still resisting the Russian siege in midst of constant shelling that has left it completely devastated.
In the south, along the coast of Odessa, the Ukrainian army is preparing to contain a possible sea landing directed from Crimea by Russian forces. A week ago, Japan warned that Russia was moving amphibious ships from its coast in the eastern Black Sea.
Although such a landing has not occurred, the Ukrainian military remains alert to counter any landing attempt by the invading Russian force.
As war rages in Ukraine, negotiations proceed in Turkey
As the war continues in Ukraine, negotiating teams from both sides discuss a possible peace in Turkey, in the vicinity of the former Ottoman palace on Istanbul’s Bosphorus bank.
“We are entering a period in which concrete results of the negotiations must be achieved, “said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
The negotiations have not been without controversy, as Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who was seen with the negotiating teams, survived an alleged poisoning, a typical tactic of Russian intelligence services used to silence opponents of Putin.
Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky has asked the West to toughen sanctions on Russia, however, neither the United States, nor the European Union have been willing to proceed with the Ukrainian leader’s request to avoid further escalating the situation.
“There are simply no words. Just think of what has been reduced. Waiting for chemical weapons. We, the living, have to wait,” Zelensky said in his televised speech. “Doesn’t everything the Russian military has done so far deserve an oil embargo?
Zelensky would be willing to give up Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO in order to guarantee the withdrawal of Russian troops, but Russia’s other demands, such as guaranteeing the autonomy of the self-proclaimed Donbass republics, seem far from being accepted by the Ukrainian negotiating team.