Ukraine worried about 'large number' of Russian missiles in Belarus; six killed in attack on Kharkiv residential area: Live updates




  • In Business
  • 2022-08-17 22:41:58Z
  • By USA TODAY
 

The increasing presence of Russian missiles in a Belarus airfield 15 miles from Ukraine's northern border is a "cause for concern," said Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, top commander of Ukraine's Armed Forces.

Ukraine is already engaged in a fierce fight with Russian invaders for the eastern Donbas region while trying to reclaim lost territory in the south. Defending a third flank could stretch its capabilities at a time when the Kremlin may seek retribution for explosions this month at military targets in the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for those blasts, but an anonymous Ukrainian official told The New York Times that military and covert operators were behind them.

Belarus has been a steadfast ally of Russia in the war and provided a staging ground for attacks. Zaluzhnyi pointed to the buildup at the Zyabrovka airfield as particularly worrisome.

Anton Geraschenko, who advises Ukraine's Minister of Internal Affairs, said in a tweet Wednesday that "Russia concentrates a large number of surface-to-air missile systems in Belarus near Ukrainian border.''

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Latest developments:

►Three people have been injured in a Russian missile attack in the Odesa region, a crucial Black Sea location from where Ukrainian ships carrying grain have been launching, regional administration spokesperson Serhiy Bratchuk said on Telegram.

►Ukraine's general staff reported 44,100 Russian troops have died in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country Feb. 24. Russia also has lost 1,886 tanks, 4,162 armored fighting vehicles, 792 drones and 233 airplanes, the staff said.

►Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Ukrainians to avoid the Russian army's military bases and ammunition storage facilities as daily reports of explosions continue in Russian-occupied areas.

►Russian occupiers have kidnapped Mayor Svitlana Korotun of Verkhny Rohachyk, a village community in the Ukrainian province of Kherson, north of Crimea. Yury Sobolevsky, first deputy speaker of the regional legislature, said Wednesday that Korotun was taken from her home to an unknown location because she refused to cooperate with the Russians.

'We will take revenge,' Zelenskyy says after latest strike on Kharkiv kills six

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy branded as "despicable and cynical" a Russian missile attack Wednesday on a residential area of Kharkiv that officials said killed six people and injured at least 16.

Zelensky said the strike destroyed a block of flats in the nation's second-largest city, which was the target of an attempted siege that failed early in the war but has repeatedly been shelled by the Russians. On Monday, one person died and six were wounded in another attack, authorities said.

"We will not forgive, we will take revenge", Zelenskyy said on Telegram.

Leader of Kremlin-backed separatists seeks North Korea's help

The head of a Kremlin-backed separatist group in Ukraine's Donbas region is seeking cooperation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid signals the reclusive Asian country would consider sending workers to help rebuild Russian-occupied areas.

Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin expressed hope that the province and North Korea could achieve "equally beneficial bilateral cooperation agreeing with the interests" of their people, the North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday.

Only three countries - Russia, Syria and North Korea - have recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, the oblasts that make up the eastern Donbas region. North Korea is reportedly also having cooperation talks with Luhansk.

The U.S. has said North Korean laborers working in Russian-occupied territory would infringe on Ukraine's sovereignty. In addition, the notion would run against U.N. Security Council sanctions.

North Korea has blamed the U.S. for the crisis in Ukraine, saying the West's "hegemonic policy" justified Russian force to protect itself.

Ukraine commander concerned about Russian attack from air base in Belarus

The increasing presence of Russian missiles in a Belarus airfield 15 miles from Ukraine's northern border is a "cause for concern," said Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, top commander of Ukraine's Armed Forces.

Ukraine is already engaged in a fierce fight with Russian invaders for the eastern Donbas region while trying to reclaim lost territory in the south. Defending a third flank could stretch its capabilities at a time when the Kremlin may seek retribution for explosions this month at military targets in the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for those blasts, but an anonymous Ukrainian official told The New York Times that military and covert operators were behind them.

Belarus has been a steadfast ally of Russia in the war and has been a staging ground for attacks. Zaluzhnyi pointed to the buildup at the Zyabrovka airfield as particularly worrisome.

Anton Geraschenko, who advises Ukraine's Minister of Internal Affairs, said in a tweet Wednesday that "Russia concentrates a large number of surface-to-air missile systems in Belarus near Ukrainian border.''

Russian military recruiting Central Asian mercenaries to fight in Ukraine

The Russian military's leadership aims to recruit mercenaries from Central Asian countries to counter the lack of Russian citizens willing to fight, Ukraine's Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense said.

"In order to at least partially preserve the possibility of forming new reserves, the Kremlin leadership is increasingly trying to attract foreign citizens to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation," a translated Telegram message read.

Meanwhile, four battalions forming in Chechnya are reportedly preparing to fight in Ukraine. The groups are primarily made up of local young men abducted by Chechen security forces who are threatened with imprisonment if they do not participate in the war, news outlet Channel 5 reported.

Freezing of war in Ukraine not possible, defense minister says

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said he does not believe it would be possible to "freeze'' hostilities in Ukraine, a notion similar to what occurred when Russia occupied the Donbas in 2014 and Moscow-backed separatist groups maintained a long-simmering conflict with Ukrainian forces.

"The option of reducing activity is possible, depending on the season. Modern war is a war of resources. Resources, of course, are being depleted on both sides, and, accordingly, each side needs time to recover," Reznikov told Voice of America in an interview that also touched on the explosions at Russian military installations in Crimea this month.

Reznikov said he doesn't anticipate a halt in the conflict "because it is not a conflict. This is a war. A war for survival. And we will defend ourselves, to survive."

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine live updates: Rising worries about Russian missiles in Belarus

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