August 15, 2022

Ukraine raises flag on recaptured island as Russia consolidates gains in east

Ukraine raises flag on recaptured island as Russia consolidates gains in east

  • Ukraine raises its flag on a restored island in the Black Sea
  • Russia launches an air raid on the island
  • Russia consolidates gains in eastern Ukraine
  • Shells and investigate new territory defenses you seek

Kyiv (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces raised their national flag on a retaken island in the Black Sea on Thursday in a symbol of defiance of Moscow, but Russian forces consolidated their gains in eastern Ukraine and probed the defenses of new potential targets.

Moscow responded quickly to the flag-raising ceremony. It said one of its warplanes struck Sneak Island shortly thereafter and destroyed part of the Ukrainian battalion there.

The small island, located about 140 kilometers (90 miles) south of the Ukrainian port of Odessa, is of strategic importance because it guards the sea lanes. Russia abandoned it at the end of June in what it said was a goodwill gesture – a victory for Ukraine that Kyiv had hoped would ease Moscow’s blockade of Ukraine’s ports.

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Pictures published by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, Thursday, showed three Ukrainian soldiers raising the blue and yellow national flag on a plot of land on Snake Island next to the remains of a building in the ground.

“Glory to the Ukrainian soldiers,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Andrei Yermak, Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian President, noted that this moment will be repeated throughout Ukraine in the coming months.

He wrote on Telegram: “Ukraine’s flag on Snake Island. We have many similar videos from Ukrainian cities that are currently under temporary occupation.”

Serhiy Prachuk, a spokesman for the Odessa regional administration, said the Russian missile strike on the island’s new residents caused significant damage to the quayside.

Brachuk said two other Russian missiles hit and destroyed two granaries in his area containing 35 tons of grain.

The Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow said that a number of Ukrainian troops landed on the island before dawn and took pictures with the flag.

“A plane of the Russian Aerospace Forces immediately launched a strike with high-precision missiles on the island of Snyk, which resulted in the destruction of part of the Ukrainian army,” said ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.

Snake Island became a symbol of Ukraine’s refusal to bow to Russia’s will early in the war after Ukrainian forces stationed there delivered a salty response when a Russian ship captain asked them to surrender.

“Pause?”

Meanwhile, Russian forces in eastern Ukraine continued to put pressure on Ukrainian forces trying to maintain the line along the northern border of the Donetsk region, in preparation for a new, broader offensive expected against them.

After capturing the city of Lyschansk on Sunday and consolidating its full control of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, Moscow has made it clear that it plans to seize parts of the neighboring Donetsk region that it has not yet captured. Kyiv still controls some large cities.

Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kirilenko, who complained of intense Russian bombing in recent days, wrote on Telegram that seven civilians were killed by Russia in the region in the past 24 hours.

Reuters could not independently verify his assertions, and the Russian Defense Ministry says it does not target civilians and uses high-precision weapons to eliminate military threats.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that Russian forces are moving more units to the Luhansk region in order to consolidate Moscow’s control there.

Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday that fighting was underway on the northern border between Luhansk and Donetsk regions, as Russian forces tried to make new advances.

But after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he wanted the forces involved in controlling the Luhansk region to rest, the full offensive has yet to materialize.

The US-based Institute for the Study of War said Russia did not appear to have seized any new territory since seizing Lysichenko on Sunday.

He assessed that “the Russian forces are halting my operations while still participating in limited ground attacks to create the conditions for more significant offensive operations.”

Putin began his invasion on February 24, calling it a “special military operation,” to disarm Ukraine, root out what he said were dangerous nationalists and protect that country’s Russian speakers.

Ukraine and its allies say Russia launched an imperial-style land grab, starting Europe’s largest conflict since World War II.

After failing to capture the capital Kyiv early on, Russia is now waging a war of attrition for the Ukrainian Donbass region that includes the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Russia says it wants to wrest control of the huge, industrialized eastern region on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in two self-proclaimed people’s republics.

Ukraine has repeatedly appealed to the West to send more weapons to end a conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and flattened cities.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening video message that his forces now have some of what they need.

“Finally, Western artillery is starting to operate strongly, the weapons we get from our partners. And their accuracy is exactly what we need,” he said.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Michael Perry and Andrew Osborne; Editing by Angus McSwan

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.