Sunday, December 4, 2022

Ukraine braces for escalated attacks ahead of Russia’s Victory Day

Ukrainian troops solidified their positions around the nation’s second-largest city Saturday as Russian forces delivered more punishing attacks on an embattled steelworks in a bid to complete their conquest of the southern port of Mariupol in time for Victory Day celebrations.
As Monday’s holiday commemorating the Soviet Union’s World War II victory over Nazi Germany approached, cities across Ukraine prepared for an expected increase in Russian attacks. Officials urged residents numbed by more than 10 weeks of war to heed air raid warnings.
“These symbolic dates are to the Russian aggressor like red to a bull,” Ukraine’s first deputy interior minister, Yevhen Yenin, said. “While the entire civilized world remembers the victims of terrible wars on these days, the Russian Federation wants parades and is preparing to dance over bones in Mariupol.”
The most intense fighting in recent days has befallen eastern Ukraine, where the two sides are entrenched in a fierce race to capture territory not under their control. Western military analysts said a Ukrainian counter-offensive was advancing around the northeastern city of Kharkiv while the Russians made minor gains in Luhansk, an area where Moscow-backed separatists have fought since 2014.
Against that backdrop, Ukrainian fighters were making a final stand to prevent a complete takeover of Mariupol. Securing the strategically important Sea of Azov port that would give Moscow a land bridge to the Crimea Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine during a 2014 invasion.
Ukraine lays out peace-talk demands
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky outlined his conditions Friday for entering peace talks with Russia, demanding a restoration of preinvasion borders, the return of more than 5 million refugees, membership in the European Union and accountability from Russian military leaders before Kyiv would consider laying down its arms.
Zelensky’s slate of requirements, which he listed during an online forum organized by Chatham House, are in direct conflict with the military objectives Russian leaders have articulated as they bear down on the Donbas region and southern Ukraine — inflicting additional casualties Friday in apparent violation of a cease-fire.
They also come as Ukraine and its Western allies await possible pronouncements or dramatic shifts on the battlefield by the Kremlin before Monday, when Russia observes Victory Day, commemorating the surrender of Nazi Germany and the end of the European front in World War II.

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