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Russia army denounced, claims Ukraine gain

Russia says its forces have advanced in the Donetsk region of Ukraine while criticism mounts in Moscow about the handling of the conflict.

October 7, 2022
7 October 2022

After a string of recent battlefield defeats, Russia says its troops have taken a settlement in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine as discontent mounts within Russia about the handling of the war by the top brass.

The village of Zaitseve had been brought under Russian control, Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in Moscow on Thursday, saying more than 120 soldiers were killed on the Ukrainian side.

Russia’s claims could not be independently verified and Ukraine has not confirmed Zaitseve’s loss.

The Russian army has recently come under considerable criticism at home because Ukraine has been rapidly gaining ground and pushing back occupying forces in a counteroffensive launched in early September.

Thousands of Russian troops have retreated after the front line crumbled, first in Ukraine’s northeast, and, since the beginning of this week, also in the south.

Public criticism of Russia’s top military officials, once taboo, is mounting after two allies of President Vladimir Putin criticised what they said was the incompetent way the war was being prosecuted.

On Thursday, a Russian-installed official in occupied Ukraine openly mused about the idea of Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister and an ally of Putin, shooting himself for his military failures.

“Indeed, many say: if they were a defence minister who had allowed such a state of affairs, they could, as officers, have shot themselves,” Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the Russian-installed administration in Ukraine’s Kherson region, said in a video.

Discontent has begun to bubble up among loyalist state TV hosts too.

“Please explain to me what the general staff’s genius idea is now?” Vladimir Solovyov, one of the most prominent Russian talk show hosts, said on his livestream channel.

“Do you think time is on our side? They (the Ukrainians) have hugely increased their amount of weapons… But what have you done in that time?”

In an online address to the European Political Community forum meeting in Prague, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of deliberately targeting the same location in Zaporizhzhia – an apartment block was struck by a missile, killing at least three people – twice in succession.

“In Zaporizhzhia, after the first rocket strike today, when people came to pick apart the rubble, Russia conducted a second rocket strike. Absolute vileness, absolute evil.”

Russia says it does not deliberately target civilians.

The missile attack came a day after Putin signed a law to incorporate four partially occupied Ukrainian regions into Russia.

Ukraine called the new law, which seeks to incorporate about 18 per cent of Ukraine’s territory into Russia, the act of a “collective madhouse”.

Russia moved to annex the four regions after holding what it called referendums – votes that were denounced by Ukraine and its allies as illegal and coercive.

Zelenskiy said on Wednesday that his army had retaken more settlements in the southern Kherson region and footage released from Kherson showed a Russian infantry fighting vehicle with a white piece of fabric wrapped around its gun barrel surrendering.

Ukraine’s military in the south said its forces had killed at least 58 Russian fighters and destroyed nine tanks.

Stremousov, the Russian-installed official in Kherson, said Ukraine’s advance in the area had been halted.

In the Kharkiv region in the northeast, a Ukrainian general said on Thursday that his forces had advanced up to about 55km over the last two weeks.

Reuters could not immediately verify the reports.

In the east, Russian forces remained dug in around the battered city of Bakhmut in Donetsk.

Ukrainian multiple rocket launchers and artillery exchanged near constant fire on Thursday with Russian forces who have pummelled the area for months, prompting the flight of much of the pre-war population of 70,000.

The streets were largely deserted although municipal workers were seen raking leaves into neat piles on one street, an incongruous scene in a city where street corners are strewn with rubbish and crumpled masonry.

“It is scary, but I actually don’t know how serious it is,” said Serhii, 70, who declined to give his last name, as crumps from artillery echoed. 

“You can’t get used to it.”

with DPA

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