Putin asks to ‘stabilize’ war, Ukraine retaliates

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he expected the situation in the Ukrainian regions to “stabilize” after Moscow suffered a military setback and lost several major cities to Kiev.

He also ordered his government to regain control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Russia’s Zaporizhzhya region, with IAEA chief Rafael Grossi traveling to Kiev for consultations on the facility.

Ukraine had previously claimed victory over Russian troops in the eastern sector of Lugansk while the Kremlin pledged to recover lost territory in a Ukrainian counter-offensive.

In recent weeks, the Ukrainian army, backed by Western weapons, has withdrawn Russian troops from towns and villages in the southern Kherson region and from the breakaway strongholds in eastern Lugansk and Donetsk.

“We assume that the situation in the new regions will stabilize,” Putin told Russian teachers in a televised video call.

A few hours earlier, the Ukrainian Prime Minister of Lugansk, Sergei Gede, had announced that “the occupation of the Lugansk region has officially begun”.

A senior Russian lawmaker called on military officials to clarify developments after the humiliating defeat in Ukraine.

“We have to stop lying,” Andrei Kartpolov, chairman of the defense committee of the lower house of parliament, told a reporter from the state media.

“The Defense Ministry report does not change. The public knows this. Our people are not fooled. This can lead to a loss of credibility.

Putin on Wednesday signed his annexation of four Ukrainian territories – including Lugansk – into law as the European Union accepted a new round of sanctions against Moscow in response.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow will take back the lost lands of Kiev in closed areas, promising that “they will be Russians forever and will not return”.
Despite the condemnation of Kiev and the West, Putin initially made deals with the rulers of the four regions funded by Moscow to become subjects of the Russian Federation.

Four regions – Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhya – form a land corridor between Russia and the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014.

In total, the five regions account for about 20% of Ukraine.

The Kremlin annexed the regions after holding a hasty referendum, condemned as null by Kiev and its Western allies, but it remains to be confirmed which of these regions should actually be annexed. Once upon a time.

The Russian army does not have full control of either Kherson or Zaporizhzhya and has recently lost control of several settlements in Donetsk.

The latest maps of the Moscow battlefield showed that Russian troops had abandoned several areas of Kherson, including the west bank of the Dnipro.

In Kharkiv, maps indicate that Moscow forces had almost completely abandoned the eastern bank of the Oskil River, potentially giving Ukrainians the space to open major Russian military transports and supply corridors.

While Russian officials have remained largely silent on the extent of the setbacks, pro-Kremlin media war correspondents have acknowledged that the military is struggling.

“There will be no good news in the near future. Neither from the Kherson front nor from Lugansk “, wrote journalist Alexander Coates on his Telegram channel with over 640,000 subscribers.

In the city of Lyman, Ukrainian police were returning to a post used by the Russian occupation forces until last week.

“They lived like rats,” the city police chief Igor Ugnivenko said, returning to his office before the invasion and examining the rubble.
Queues, mainly of elderly residents, have formed in front of the central administration for two ambulances distributing minor humanitarian aid.

“I don’t know if the situation is better or worse,” said Tatiana Slavuta, 62, as the city was recaptured by Ukrainian forces.

“All the shops are closed, we have no money, we have no light. Anything.

“We don’t see any change,” he added, before adjusting and shining.

“At least now there is silence, no bombing.”

Putin’s decision to regain control of the Zaporizhzhya plant comes after months of tension around the facility, with both sides blaming each other for attacks that have raised fears of a radioactive disaster.

On the way to Kiev for important meetings, “the need for a safe zone around the site was ‘more urgent than ever,'” International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi tweeted.

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden told Zelensky that an additional $ 625 million in military aid would be on the way.

The new batch includes multiple HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, which allowed Ukraine to reach Russian command depots and weapons depots far behind the front line.

On the EU side, there were no details on the nature of the new sanctions agreed against Russia.

The latest package, the eighth since the invasion of Russia in February, is currently in the final approval stage, will be released if no objections are raised, and will go into effect on Thursday, the Czech Republic’s ambassador to the EU said on Twitter. . Said.

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