Ukraine news – live: Kyiv denies 600 soldiers killed in Russian missile strike as ‘bloodiest’ battle rages

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Air raid sirens heard in Ukraine despite Russian call for ceasefire

Officials in Ukraine have rejected Russia’s claim that Kyiv lost 600 of its troops in a single missile strike in a city in Donetsk, stating that there were in fact no fatalities in the incident.

A ground report by Reuters said there were no obvious signs of casualties at the site where Russia claims to have successfully targeted hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers.

It comes as Ukrainian forces were defending towns and cities in eastern Ukraine in the “bloodiest” battle of the war so far, Volodymyr Zelensky said last night, as the conflict entered its 320th day.

Mr Zelensky said: “Bakhmut is holding on despite everything. And even though most of the town has been destroyed by Russian strikes, our soldiers are repelling constant Russian attempts to advance.”

“Soledar is holding on, even though there is even greater destruction and things are very difficult,” he added.

Russia has resumed its offensive efforts after Vladimir Putin called a unilateral truce for Orthodox Christmas over the weekend, though there was little sign of a break in the fighting at the frontline.

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Russian missile strike kills one in east Ukraine

A 60-year-old woman was killed and several other people were wounded in a Russian missile strike on a market in the village of Shevchenkove in eastern Ukraine on Monday, the regional governor said.

Footage posed by public broadcaster Suspilne on the Telegram messaging app showed rescue workers sifting through large piles of rubble, burning wreckage and a large crater in what it said was Shevchenkove, southeast of the regional capital Kharkiv.

“According to confirmed information, unfortunately a 60-year-old woman died,” Oleh Synehubov, governor of the Kharkiv region, wrote on telegram.

“All other victims were hospitalised. Doctors are helping them. Rescuer workers continue to clear the debris.”

He had said earlier that at least seven people had been wounded, including a 13-year-old girl. The reports could not immediately be verified independently by Reuters.

Suspilne quoted a local official as saying at least three pavilions were destroyed in the attack and that a shopping centre was damaged, but that Monday was not a market day.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine more than 10 months ago, did not immediately comment on the reported attack.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain9 January 2023 09:14
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How has war changed love and relationships in Ukraine?

“With his strong build, black hair and easy smile, Vlad had little problem finding about 200 matches on Tinder in Kharkiv ahead of his military unit’s break in the eastern Ukrainian city, as he swiped on the dating app from his position on the frontlines.

“It was admittedly a lower number than his halcyon prewar days in Kyiv, when Vlad says he once compiled a record 1,238 Tinder matches. But after nine months in the army, he was excited nonetheless by the prospect of a quick hookup.

“When he met his dates at a cafe in Kharkiv, however, Vlad found his normal charm had abandoned him.

“As his dating profile says, Vlad’s unit is among those fighting in the “grey zone,” part of a territory beyond the front line where the most dangerous operations are conducted.

“The death and destruction in his daily life weighed on him, and he found himself incapable of the kind of talk that is often the prerequisite for intimacy.”

Jeff Stein, Samantha Schmidt and Kostiantyn Khudov report on how fighting in Ukraine shows that the reality of love during war is far darker than the romances produced by Hollywood.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain9 January 2023 08:31
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I’ve met terrified Ukrainians who don’t know how they will survive the winter

Winter is predictable, but every year it blindsides organisations who are unprepared to support refugees through the coldest months, Josie Naughton writes.

With snow starting to fall and a severe shortage of coats, shelters and heating fuel, cases of pneumonia, frostbite and influenza are rising. A lack of forward planning by international organisations has intensified these issues, with many now lacking the essentials needed to make it through the winter.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain9 January 2023 08:06
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Ukraine says its forces repel constant Russian attacks in east

Ukrainian forces are repelling constant Russian attacks on Bakhmut and other towns in the eastern region of Donbas, Ukrainian authorities said on Monday, after denying Kremlin claims of 600 soldiers killed in a missile strike.

Russia launched seven missile strikes, 31 air strikes and 73 attacks from salvo rocket launchers in the past day, the general staff of Ukraine‘s armed forces said in a daily report.

Ukrainian forces repelled attacks on 14 settlements, including Bakhmut, it added.

“Bakhmut is holding on despite everything,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in nightly video remarks on Sunday.

“And even though most of the town has been destroyed by Russian strikes, our soldiers are repelling constant Russian attempts to advance.”

The nearby town of Soledar was holding on, “even though there is even greater destruction and things are very difficult”, he added.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the battlefield reports.

Zelensky made a fresh denunciation of what he called Russia‘s failure to observe a truce it had proclaimed for Orthodox Christmas by staging attacks on Ukrainian cities.

“Russians were shelling Kherson with incendiary ammunition immediately after Christmas,” he said, referring to the southern city abandoned by Russian forces in November.

“Strikes on Kramatorsk and other cities in Donbas – on civilian targets and at the very time when Moscow was reporting a supposed ‘silence’ for its army.”

On Sunday, Russia said a missile attack on Kramatorsk, northwest of Bakhmut, had killed 600 Ukrainian soldiers, but a Reuters reporter at the scene found no obvious signs of casualties.

A Reuters team visited two college dormitories that Moscow said had been temporarily housing Ukrainian personnel and which it had targeted as revenge for a New Year’s attack that killed scores of Russian soldiers and caused outcry in Russia.

But neither dormitory in the eastern city of Kramatorsk appeared to have been directly hit or seriously damaged. There were no obvious signs that soldiers had been living there and no sign of bodies or traces of blood.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, a Ukrainian military spokesperson for the eastern region, described the claim of mass casualties as an attempt by the Russian defence ministry to show it had responded forcefully to Ukraine‘s recent strikes on Russian soldiers.

“This is an information operation of the Russian defense ministry,” Cherevatyi told Ukrainian broadcaster Suspilne News.

As Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine grinds towards the one-year mark, Russia‘s military is under domestic pressure to deliver battlefield successes.

Hawkish voices have sought an escalation of the war effort after setbacks such as loss of captured territory and high rates of death and injury.

Some prominent Russian military bloggers have criticised the Russian defence ministry claims.

“Let’s talk about fraud” wrote one prominent pro-war military blogger on the Telegram messaging app, who posts under the name of Military Informant and who has more than half a million subscribers.

“It is not clear to us who, and for what reason, decided that 600 Ukrainian soldiers died inside, all at once, if the building was not actually hit (even the light remained on).

“Instead of the real destruction of the enemy personnel, which would have been a worthy response, an exclusively media operation of retaliation was invented.”

The militaries of both Russia and Ukraine militaries have often overstated enemy losses, while minimising their own.

Ukraine’s top military officials said last week some 760 Russian troops had been killed or wounded in two attacks on Moscow-controlled parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. These reports could not be independently verified.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain9 January 2023 07:36
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Russia using most advanced supersonic combat jet in Ukraine war – MoD

The British defence ministry says Russia is almost certainly using its most advanced combat jet in operations against Ukraine while limiting the risks involved.

“Since at least June 2022, Russian Aerospace Forces have almost certainly used Su-57 FELON to conduct missions against Ukraine,” the ministry said, noting that FELON is Russia’s most advanced fifth-generation supersonic combat jet, employing stealth technologies and highly advanced avionics.

These missions have likely been limited to flying over Russian territory, launching long range air-to-surface or air-to-air missiles into Ukraine, the ministry said.

Citing recent commercially available imagery, the ministry said at least five FELON are parked at Akhtubinsk Air Base, which hosts the 929th Flight Test Centre. “As this is the only known FELON base, these aircraft have likely been involved in operations against Ukraine,” the MoD said.

“Russia is highly likely prioritising avoiding the reputational damage, reduced export prospects, and the compromise of sensitive technology which would come from any loss of FELON over Ukraine,” it said, adding that this move is symptomatic of Russia’s continued risk-averse approach to employing its air force in the war.

Arpan Rai9 January 2023 07:07
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Russia missile hit empty school, Moscow’s claims false – report

The claims of a “retaliation operation” from Russia on hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers in Donetsk oblast are false, said the Institute for the Study of War.

Russia has not managed to inflict any damage on the Ukrainian soldiers as claimed by its defence ministry, it added.

“This claim is false — a Finnish reporter visited the site of the strike in Kramatorsk on January 8 and noted that it hit an empty school,” the US-based think-tank said.

It added that several Russian military bloggers “responded negatively to the Russian MoD’s claim”.

The military bloggers tracking Russia in the war have pointed out that the “Russian MoD frequently presents fraudulent claims and criticises Russian military leadership for fabricating a story to ‘retaliate’ for the Makiivka strike instead of holding Russian leadership responsible for the losses accountable.”

Arpan Rai9 January 2023 07:06
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Russian forces retreating in Luhansk, says regional governor

Russian soldiers are slowly retreating in Kriminna city in Luhansk amid heavy fighting, regional governor Serhiy Haidai said.

The regional governor said that the Russian forces have deployed their most combat-ready units and heavy equipment in Kriminna situated in Sievierodonetsk region in Luhansk which remains under Russia’s control.

This indicated that the Russians were slowly retreating in the region, Mr Haidai said.

However, the region could see an escalation in military offensive as the night time temperatures plummet to minus 15-17 Celsius (5-1 Fahrenheit) as hard frosting of the ice will allow the invading soldiers to move their heavy equipment from one place to another, he added.

Arpan Rai9 January 2023 06:04
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Russia failed to observe ceasefire, says Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky has yet again denounced Russia’s failure to observe a truce it had proclaimed for Orthodox Christmas by staging attacks on Ukrainian cities.

“Russians were shelling Kherson with incendiary ammunition immediately after Christmas,” Mr Zelensky said, referring to a city in the south abandoned by Russian forces in November.

He added: “Strikes on Kramatorsk and other cities in Donbas – on civilian targets and at the very time when Moscow was reporting a supposed ‘silence’ for its army.”

Arpan Rai9 January 2023 05:35
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Fighting batters eastern Ukraine: ‘Bloodiest places on frontline’

Volodymyr Zelensky has said that the hotspots in the war in Luhansk and Donetsk are witnessing heavy fighting with these regions witnessing “one of the bloodiest places on the frontline”.

“The situation on the frontline has not changed significantly in the first week of the year. Heavy fighting continues in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions – every hotspot in these areas is well known,” he said.

Mr Zelensky added: “Bakhmut is holding out against all odds. And although most of the city is destroyed by Russian strikes, our warriors repel constant attempts at Russian offensive there.

“Soledar is holding out. Although there is even more destruction there and it is extremely hard,” the war-time president said.

He added: “There is no such piece of land near these two cities, where the occupier would not have given his life for the crazy ideas of the masters of the Russian regime. This is one of the bloodiest places on the frontline.”

Arpan Rai9 January 2023 05:08
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I’ve met terrified Ukrainians who don’t know how they will survive the winter

With snow starting to fall and a severe shortage of coats, shelters and heating fuel, cases of pneumonia, frostbite and influenza are rising.

A lack of forward planning by international organisations has intensified these issues, with many now lacking the essentials needed to make it through the winter.

Read the full story here:

Arpan Rai9 January 2023 05:06

Source: independent.co.uk