The Russian military announced Tuesday “massive strikes” on all fronts in response to the blistering counteroffensive by Ukrainian troops, which the United States called a “shift in momentum” by announcing new military aid “in the coming days.”
“I leave President Zelensky decide whether he feels he has reached a turning point militarily, but obviously, at least in Donbass[eastern Ukraine]there is momentum,” said John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council reporting to U.S. President Joe Biden.
“You’re going to see another (military assistance component) in the next few days,” he promised.
On the ground, Russian bombing has killed at least 8 and wounded 19 in 24 hours in the regions of Kharkiv (northeast) and Donetsk (east), according to the Ukrainian presidency. “Ukraine records up to 200 war crimes committed every day by the Russians” on its soil, further assured the Ukrainian General Staff, adding that “more than 70,000 km2 in 10 Ukrainian regions were mined” by the occupiers.
The General Staff reported continued “looting” by the Russian army, saying that some 300 cars were stolen in the Kharkiv region.
For its part, Russia claimed that the Ukrainian military was carrying out harsh reprisals against civilians in the places it has retaken in recent days.
“According to our information, there are many punitive actions against the residents of the Kharkiv region, people are being tortured, mistreated,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, adding, “it is revolting.”
On Tuesday, at a meeting of the General Staff, Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky argued that “more than 4,000 km2 and more than 300 localities have been liberated. Stabilization measures are being implemented, and the offensive is continuing.
“Russian air forces, ballistic and artillery are carrying out massive strikes against units of the Ukrainian armed forces in all operational areas,” the Russian Ministry of Defense stressed.
In particular, it referred to bombardments near Sloviansk, Konstantinivka and Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, as well as in the southern regions of Mykolayev and Zaporizhia and in Kharkiv, where Russian soldiers have almost completely withdrawn in the face of Ukrainian advances.
The Russian offensive launched on 24 February will continue “until the objectives are achieved”, the Kremlin had repeated the day before, according to which there are currently “no prospects for negotiations” between the two belligerents.
Ukraine reported further military successes on Monday, saying it had reached the Russian border and re-established control over the equivalent of seven times the size of Kiev in a month.
“The liberation of localities occupied by Russian invaders continues in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions,” the Ukrainian military said Tuesday.
According to the deputy head of the presidential administration, Kiril Tymoshenko, “the electricity supply to the city of Kharkiv and the entire region has been restored.”
Call for Russian withdrawal
On the diplomatic front, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to order the “complete withdrawal” of Russian forces from Ukraine.
In a 90-minute telephone conversation, the German leader “urged the Russian president to find a diplomatic solution as soon as possible, based on a ceasefire, a complete withdrawal of Russian troops and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” according to a statement from the German chancellery.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda also called on French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday to increase military aid to Ukraine, in a telephone conversation initiated by Paris.