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Ukraine loses control of the Sea of ​​Azov while Russia tightens its grip on Mariupol

Ukraine admitted for the first time that it had lost access to the Sea of ​​Azov, a potentially significant setback that underscores the extent of Russia’s military achievements in the country’s southeast.

The admission came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for full-scale peace talks with Moscow and warned that it would take Russia “several generations” to recover from its war losses.

“The time has come to meet. It’s time to talk,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to the nation. “It is time to restore territorial integrity and justice to Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be so great that it will take generations for her to recover.”

With Russia’s war in Ukraine entering its fourth week, its offensive appears to have stalled on multiple fronts, slowed by logistical challenges, tactical missteps and intense Ukrainian resistance.

According to the British MoD, Russia was forced to “change its operational approach and is now pursuing a strategy of attrition”.

“This will likely involve the indiscriminate use of firepower, leading to increased civilian casualties, the destruction of Ukraine’s infrastructure and a worsening of the humanitarian crisis,” the defense ministry said.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he expected Russia to try
Bring supplies and additional troops in the coming days.

“We have seen no evidence that they move large numbers of
Forces recently, but due to the fact that they are stalled on one
number of fronts there, it makes sense that [Valdimir Putin] would want to improve his skills in the future,” Austin said after the meeting
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.

More than 3 million people have fled Ukraine, sparking Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II. António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said the war had “disrupted supply chains and caused fuel, food and transport prices to skyrocket”.

“We must do everything we can to avert a hunger storm and a collapse of the global food system,” he said.

One of the main targets of the Russian offensive is Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of ​​Azov, which is surrounded and constantly bombarded by Russian troops. Thousands of people in the city – which had a population of 460,000 before the war – were forced to live in shelters, without electricity, heating and communications services, and with scarce food and water.

Earlier this week, the Russian air force bombed Mariupol’s main municipal theater, which served as a shelter for hundreds of civilians. Authorities said more than 130 people had been rescued from the rubble, but hundreds were missing and may still be inside the building.

Taking Mariupol would give the Russians control of the entire north shore of the Sea of ​​Azov, cut off Ukraine from a vital link with the Black Sea, and allow Moscow to form a land corridor to Crimea, the peninsula it illegally seized from Ukraine in 2014 annexed.

Ukraine’s General Staff said on Friday evening that Russian forces “partially succeeded in capturing the Donetsk Theater and temporarily blocking Ukraine’s access to the Sea of ​​Azov.”

“Our task is not to allow them to gain a foothold on these borders, because then it will be very difficult to expel them,” said Oleksandr V. Danylyuk, head of the Kyiv-based Center for Defense Reform and a former adviser to the Ukrainian Secretary of Defense.

“The minimum task for the Russian side . . . He is seizing a land corridor to Crimea and controlling the peninsula’s water supply system, along with trying to destabilize the situation in Kyiv,” he added.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday it used its Kinzhal hypersonic missile for the first time to hit a target in Ukraine and claimed it hit an ammunition dump in the west of the country on Friday.

“The Kinzhal airborne missile system with hypersonic ballistic missiles destroyed a large underground storage facility for missiles and aircraft ammunition of Ukrainian troops in Deliatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region,” said ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, the Kinzhal is a nuclear-capable air-launched missile that is one of the “next-generation” weapons that Putin unveiled in 2018.

“Russia’s naming of the Kinzhal as a ‘hypersonic’ missile is somewhat misleading, since almost all ballistic missiles are supersonic. . . at some point during their flight,” the CSIS said.

Additional reporting by Felicia Schwartz in Sofia

https://www.ft.com/content/1e44a13e-fd31-4211-9090-bfd96dbe58b1 Ukraine loses control of the Sea of ​​Azov while Russia tightens its grip on Mariupol

Adam Bradshaw

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