UPDATE ON THE SITUATION – Le Figaro provides an update on the latest information from journalists, Ukrainian and Russian official statements, Western sources and international organizations.
Russia under pressure after two attacks in Crimea, Ukraine threatens to dismantle a bridge, NATO calls for a “inspectionof the Zaporijjia power plant… On the 175th day of the conflict, Le Figaro takes stock, this Wednesday, August 17, of the latest information from the war in ukraine.
Russia under pressure in Crimea after two attacks targeting it far from the front
Two attacks having recently targeted Russian military installations in Crimea show Ukraine’s ability to strike far from the front line and disrupt Russian logistics, putting Moscow under pressure eight years after the annexation of this peninsula. The Russian army has, exceptionally, admitted that the most recent of the explosions which occurred on Tuesday in an ammunition depot near the village of Djankoï, in the north of the Crimeawas the act of aact of sabotage“. This explosion had been preceded a week earlier by an attack targeting the military airfield of Saki, in the west of the peninsula, which a Ukrainian official on condition of anonymity described as a “well-prepared sabotage special operation“.
If kyiv has not officially acknowledged its responsibility in these two attacks, the presidential adviser Mikhaïlo Podoliak evoked a “demilitarization in actionfrom Crimea, a reference to the terminology used by Russia to justify its invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24. Other officials like Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov preferred to be ironic, suggesting that these explosions had been the result of poorly extinguished cigarettes, a joke that has gone viral in Ukraine.
For weeks, Ukraine has claimed to be carrying out a counter-offensive in the Kherson region, having enabled it to reconquer dozens of villages. More recently, she claimed to have decommissioned several strategic bridges.
»SEE ALSO – On the front line in the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian army is fighting with mortars
Six dead and sixteen injured in a Russian strike on Kharkiv
At least six people were killed and sixteen injured on Wednesday in a Russian bombardment on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, local authorities announced, President Volodymyr Zelensky denouncing a “despicable and cynical attack“. The mayor of Kharkiv, Igor Terekhov, had initially mentioned on Telegram a balance sheet of three dead and ten wounded, before the regional governor Oleg Sinegoubov saw it on the rise.
“Unfortunately, the number of dead and injured as a result of the bombardment (…) increased: six people died, sixteen were injured“, indicated Oleg Singoubov on Telegram. “There is a powerful fire at the scene of the strike in an apartment buildingadded Igor Terekhov. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told him about an apartment building “totally destroyedin the typing. “A despicable and cynical attack on civilians that has no justification and demonstrates the helplessness of the aggressor“, he wrote on Telegram. “We won’t forgive, we will take revenge“.
Located about 40 kilometers from the Russian border in northeastern Ukraine, the city of Kharkiv has been regularly pounded by the Russian army since the start of the invasion at the end of February, but troops from Moscow have not never succeeded in taking the city. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the Kharkiv region since the start of the war, according to the count of the authorities. Russian forces are currently concentrating their offensive on eastern and southern Ukraine.
Ukraine threatens to dismantle a bridge linking mainland Russia with Crimea
Ukraine on Wednesday threatened to dismantle the Kerch Bridge, built at great expense by Moscow to connect Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula. “This bridge is an illegal structure and Ukraine did not give permission for its construction. It damages the ecology of the peninsula and must therefore be dismantled. No matter how: voluntarily or not“, wrote on Telegram the adviser to the Ukrainian presidency Mikhaïlo Podoliak.
The Kerch Bridge, which was inaugurated by the Russian President Vladimir Poutine in May 2018, represented a colossal and costly two-year project to build the 19 kilometers linking mainland Russia to Crimea and to open up the peninsula four years after its annexation by Moscow.
Zaporijjia power plant: NATO calls for a “inspection» IAEA emergency
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg judged Wednesday “urgent» than a «inspectionof the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) takes place at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, under Russian control and around which strikes and clashes are increasing. The plant, the largest in Europe, was taken in early March by Russian troops at the very start of their invasion of Ukraine. Since August 5, kyiv and Moscow have accused each other of bombing, while strikes landed once near a radioactive storage building, and another time caused the automatic shutdown of a reactor.
The occupation of the site by Russian soldiersposes a serious threat to its security and increases the risk of a nuclear accident or incident (…) There is an urgent need to authorize an IAEA inspection and obtain the withdrawal of all Russian forces“, estimated Jens Stoltenberg, during a press conference. Russian control of Zaporizhia “endangers the population of Ukraine, neighboring countries, as well as the international communityhe insisted, speaking after a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. The recent strikes that targeted the plant, raising fears of a nuclear disaster, prompted a meeting of the UN Security Council last week and IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi pleaded for the dispatch of a mission on the spotas soon as possibleto inspect the site.
Meeting between Zelensky, Erdogan and Guterres on Thursday in Ukraine
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will travel to Ukraine on Thursday where he will take part in a meet with the Ukrainian and Turkish presidents, in particular to discuss the export of grain from Ukrainian ports, his spokesman announced on Tuesday. “At the invitation of the President Volodymyr Zelenskythe Secretary General will be in Lviv on Thursday to participate in a trilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Ukrainian leader“, declared Stéphane Dujarric during a press briefing, specifying that Antonio Guterres would then go to Odessa and then to Turkey.
The meeting will allowexamine» the implementation of the international agreement signed in July in Istanbul to allow grain exports from Ukraine, agreement «of which Turkey is a key element“, he added. “A number of issues will be raised, in general, such as the need for a political solution to the conflict. I have no doubt (that) the question of the nuclear power plant (of Zaporizhia) and others will also be discussed“Said the spokesperson, specifying that a bilateral between the Ukrainian president and the secretary general should also take place.
»SEE ALSO – A meeting scheduled for Thursday August 18 between Zelensky, Erdogan and Guterres in Ukraine
UN food aid delivery from Ukraine to Africa reaches Bosphorus
The first wartime delivery of food aid from the United Nations to Africa reached the Bosphorus Strait on Wednesday as part of a deal to restore Ukrainian grain deliveries through the Black Sea. Maritime traffic tracking sites showed the MV Brave Commander carrying its cargo of 23,000 tons of wheat off Istanbul after leaving the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi on the shores of the Black Sea on Tuesday.
The Turkish Coast Guard expects the Lebanese-flagged cargo ship to reach the Sea of Marmara south of the Bosphorus Strait on Wednesday evening before sailing next week to its final destination Djibouti. The cereals will then be loaded onto trucks to be delivered to Ethiopia, in the throes of war and famine, under the aegis of the World Food Program (WFP).
“Opening Black Sea ports is the most important thing we can do to help (defeat) world hungersaid WFP Executive Director David Beasley in a statement. “It will take more than grain ships from Ukraine to overcome world hunger, but with Ukrainian grain back on world markets, we have a chance to stop this global food crisis from getting worse.“, he added.
Macron and Modi wantwork together» on the conflict
French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed of “work together to end the conflictin Ukraine, said the Elysee in a statement late Tuesday evening. The two leaders exchanged by telephone about “Russia’s war in Ukraine and its destabilizing consequences for the rest of the world“, according to the French presidency.
Emmanuel Macron, who had received the Indian Prime Minister in May in Paris, underlined the “France’s determination to continue its support for Ukraine“. India has refrained from openly condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and from joining in the votes to that effect at the UN. In June, however, she co-signed a G7 statement committing to “respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other States“.
Putin accuses the United States of dragging out the conflict
The Russian President Vladimir Poutine accused the United States of dragging out the conflict in Ukraine. He thus criticized the country for seeking to “destabilizethe world, referring to the recent visit to Taiwan by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The situation in Ukraine shows that the United States is trying to drag out this conflict. And they do the same by cultivating the possibility of conflict in Asia, Africa, Latin AmericaVladimir Putin told the International Security Conference in Moscow. He denounced abrazen display of their lack of respect for the sovereignty of other countries and their international obligations“.
»SEE ALSO – Putin accuses Washington of dragging out the Ukrainian conflict