Major new Russian assault in Ukraine unlikely to achieve breakthough, UK says

  • Biden says no when asked about F-16s for Ukraine
  • Zelensky: Moscow seeks “revenge”
  • The UK says Russia is attacking Vuhledar with at least a brigade
  • Russia’s profit this month is the highest since 2022. middle

A large Russian force moved hundreds of meters into a Ukrainian-held bastion in southeastern Ukraine this week, but it is unlikely to lead to a significant breakthrough there, Britain said on Tuesday.

Russian officials claimed the advance was entrenched in the coal-mining town of Vuhledar. Kyiv has acknowledged heavy fighting there, but says it has so far repelled pressure and inflicted heavy losses on the attackers.

In an intelligence update that provided rare details of the battlefield, the British ministry said Russia was attacking the city with at least a brigade-sized force, a unit that usually consists of several thousand troops at full capacity.

By now, the Russians had likely advanced from the south a few hundred meters beyond the Kaslahakh River, which she said had marked the front line for months. A small river flows on the outskirts of Pavlivka, about two kilometers south of Vuhledar.

“There is a real possibility that Russia will continue to pursue domestic advantages in this sector. However, it is unlikely that Russia will have enough non-committed troops in the area to achieve a significant operational breakthrough.”

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It said Russian commanders were likely trying to create a new axis of advance as well as divert Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut, a town further north that had been the focus of the Russian offensive for months.

Reuters could not independently confirm the situation in the area.

Vuhledar is located at the southernmost end of Ukraine’s eastern front, overlooking the railway lines that supply Russian forces on the adjacent southern front. Since the start of the war eleven months ago, Ukraine has repelled several Russian attacks on the city.

The Russian offensive there comes after Moscow made major advances around Bakhmut in the past two weeks, the biggest gain since Ukraine seized large chunks of territory in 2022. on the other side. In recent weeks, momentum has shifted towards Russia after the front lines were frozen. place from November

Military experts say Moscow is determined to push forward in Ukraine in the coming months before Kyiv receives hundreds of newly pledged Western tanks and armored vehicles this year to retake the occupied territory in a retaliatory attack.

Bakhmut, a city once home to 100,000 people, appears increasingly vulnerable after Russia seized the Soledar salt mine to the north about a week ago. Moscow claims it has made significant gains on both the northern and southern outskirts of Bakhmut; Kyiv says the city itself is not yet in danger of falling, but the fighting is heavy.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described Russia’s offensive in the east as an attempt to “revenge” previous losses.

“And I think they will not be able to give their society any convincing positive result in the attack. I am confident in our military. We will stop them all bit by bit, destroy them and prepare our big counterattack,” he said. said Monday.

Kyiv says Russia’s offensive in recent weeks has come at a huge cost, initially relying mostly on mercenaries, including thousands of convicts recruited from Russian prisons and sent into battle in waves without proper training or equipment.

But Russia’s call-up of hundreds of thousands of reservists late last year means Moscow has now been able to rebuild regular military units that had been used up or depleted earlier in the war.

A statement from Britain’s Ministry of Defense said the attack on Vuhledar was led by a Russian naval infantry unit that had tried and failed to attack the city in November.


Since receiving a Western pledge to buy tanks after months of lobbying, Kyiv has made repeated requests for weapons, including jet fighters such as the US F-16. Neither side has been able to secure control of the skies over Ukraine.

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The West has so far refused to send weapons that could be used to attack deep inside Russia, a line the countries are still reluctant to cross. When asked by reporters at the White House on Monday whether Washington would send the F-16, US President Joe Biden answered categorically “no”.

However, Ukraine has hopes. Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov was due to meet in Paris on Tuesday with President Emmanuel Macron, who told reporters in The Hague on Monday that “by definition nothing is ruled out” when it comes to military aid.

Macron said any such move to send the jets would depend on factors including the need to avoid escalation and assurances that the aircraft “will not touch Russian soil”.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also did not rule out a possible supply of F-16s to neighboring Ukraine, answering a reporter’s question before Biden spoke.

Morawiecki said in remarks posted on his website that any such transfer would take place in “full coordination” with NATO countries. Poland has long sought more aggressive Western military support for Ukraine.

Reuters bureaus report. Writer Peter Graff; Edited by Frank Jack Daniel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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