Military and diplomatic pressure mounts for Russia’s Putin

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Pressure mounted on Russian President Vladimir Putin on the battlefield and in the halls of global power as Ukrainian troops launched their counter-offensive on Saturday to advance into Ukraine’s partially recaptured northeast. pushed for.

At a high level summit in UzbekistanPutin vowed to press his attack on Ukraine despite recent military setbacks, but also faced concerns over a drawn-out conflict by India and China.

“I know today is not an era of war,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in televised comments during his meeting with the Russian leader in Uzbekistan on Friday. “We discussed this with you on the phone several times, that democracy and dialogue touch the whole world.”

At the same summit a day earlier, Putin acknowledged China’s unspecified “questions and concerns” about the war in Ukraine, while thanking Chinese President Xi Jinping for his government’s “balanced position” on the conflict.

The hasty withdrawal of the Russians soldiers Parts of a northeastern region he captured at the start of the war this month, as well as rare public reservations expressed by key allies, underscore the challenges Putin faces on all fronts. Both China and India have maintained strong ties with Russia and had sought neutrality on Ukraine.

Xi expressed support for Russia’s “core interests” in a statement, but wanted to work together to “inject stability” into world affairs. Modi said he wanted to discuss “how we can move forward on the path of peace,” adding that the biggest concerns facing the world are the problems of food security, fuel security and fertilisers.

In a rare public rebuke, Modi insisted, “We must find a way out and you should also contribute to it.”

The comments cast a shadow over a summit that Putin hoped would burnish his diplomatic position and show he was not isolated internationally.

On the battlefield, Western defense officials and analysts said Saturday that Russian forces were apparently setting up a new defensive line in Ukraine’s northeast after Kyiv troops broke through a previous one.

The British Defense Ministry said the new front line was likely between the Oskil River and Svatov, 150 kilometers (90 mi) southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.

New line emerges after Ukrainian retaliation punched a hole through the last front line of battleAllows Kyiv troops to recapture large tracts of land in the northeastern Kharkiv region bordering Russia.

After Russian troops retreated from the city of Izium, Ukrainian authorities discovered the site of a mass grave, one of the largest ever discovered, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky says more than 440 graves have been found at the site, but the number of victims is not yet known.

Zelensky said there were hundreds of civilian adults and children in the graves as well as soldiers, and some were tortured, shot or killed by artillery fire. He cited evidence of atrocities, such as a body with a rope around its neck and broken arms.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are crossing the Oskil River in the Kharkiv region and have artillery there, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said on Saturday. The river, which flows south into Ukraine from Russia, was a natural break in the newly emerged front lines since Ukraine launched its counter-offensive about a week ago.

“The Russian army is too weak to stop further Ukrainian advances along the entire Oskil River,” the institute said.

Videos that circulated online on Saturday indicated that Ukrainian forces were continuing to take land from Russian forces in the country’s troubled east, although their veracity could not be independently verified.

A video shows a Ukrainian soldier walking past a damaged building and then pointing to an aide who hangs a blue and yellow Ukrainian flag on a mobile phone tower. The soldier identified the seized village as Dibrova, northeast of the Slovian city of Donetsk region of Ukraine.

Another video showed two Ukrainian soldiers posing as a bell tower, one of which was said to have recaptured the village of Shchurov, northeast of Sloviask.

The Ukrainian military and the Russians did not comment on the two villages.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian forces continued to launch deadly missile attacks and shelling on cities and villages.

A Russian missile attack set fire to Kharkiv’s industrial area early Saturday, regional governor Oleh Sinihubov said. Firefighters extinguished the fire.

Sinihubov said the remains showed Russians fired surface-to-air S-300 missiles at the city. The S-300 is designed for airborne missiles or aircraft, not ground targets. Analysts say Russia’s use of the missiles suggests they may be running out of some precision weapons.

Sinihubov said an 11-year-old girl was killed in Saturday’s shelling in the nearby town of Chuhuiv.

In the southern Zaporizhzhya region, a large part of which is occupied by the Russians, one person was injured when Russian forces shelled the city of Orikhiv, the region’s Ukrainian governor, Oleksandr Starukh, reported on Telegram. He said Russian troops also opened fire on two villages in the area, destroying several civilian facilities.

On Saturday, blasts were also reported in parts of Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya. Russian-established official Vladimir Rogov said on Telegram that at least five explosions were heard in the city of Melitopol. The city’s Ukraine mayor, Ivan Fedorov, said the blast occurred in a village south of the city, where Russian troops had moved some military equipment.

Ukraine’s central Dnipropetrovsk region also came under Russian fire overnight, according to its governor, Valentin Reznichenko. “The enemy attacked six times and launched more than 90 lethal projectiles on peaceful cities and villages,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s nuclear power operator, Energotom, said a convoy of 25 trucks brought diesel fuel and other vital supplies to the endangered Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant – Europe’s largest, which was shut down a week ago, Amid fears that a nearby battle could result in a radiation disaster.

Energoatom said trucks were allowed through Russian checkpoints on Friday to deliver spare parts to repair damaged power lines, chemicals for plant operations and additional fuel for backup diesel generators.

The six-reactor plant was captured by the Russian military in March, but is operated by Ukrainian engineers. Its last reactor was shut down on Sunday after repeated power outages caused by shelling jeopardized critical safety systems.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Saturday that one of the nuclear plant’s four main external power lines had been repaired.

The Russian military on Saturday accused Ukraine of firing a fresh artillery fire at the power plant. Ukrainian officials did not immediately address the claim.

In Russia, shelling on Saturday killed one person and wounded two others, according to Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Russian border region of Belgorod, who blamed Ukrainians. The claim could not be verified.

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Karl Ritter in Kyiv contributed to this report.

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