Two of Putin’s commanders killed as Ukraine launches new Bakhmut offensive

Two of Vladimir Putin’s military commanders have been killed in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s military has said, warning of a renewed effort by Kiev forces to break through the town of Bakhmut.

As Moscow’s forces are believed to have been forced to cede bitter gains in a haphazard retreat in the city of Donetsk in recent days, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that two of the colonels were among the dead.

Colonel Vyacheslav Makarov, commander of a motorized rifle brigade, which usually numbers thousands of soldiers, was killed in Bakhmut while “personally [leading] the battle,” he said, adding that the deputy commander of the political-military corps, Colonel Yevgeny Brovko, died with “multiple shrapnel wounds.”

As Ukraine continued to lay the groundwork for its bid to retake swaths of its territory, President Volodymr Zelensky carried out his own diplomatic offensive on Sunday when he visited his counterparts in Berlin and Paris for the first time since Russia invaded.

Sitting next to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Zelensky insisted that, with the help of its allies, kyiv could secure an “irreversible” Russian defeat by the end of the year.

Arriving in Berlin in a Luftwaffe fighter plane just hours after Germany promised its biggest military aid package to Ukraine to date, worth £2.3 billion, the Ukrainian president traveled to Aachen to receive the prestigious Charlemagne Prize.

In his acceptance speech, at a ceremony attended by the EU’s Ursula von Der Leyen and Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki, Zelensky accused Moscow of trying to turn back the clock on European history, describing the invasion of Ukraine as “the war of Russia for the past”. .

Speaking to reporters in Berlin ahead of a dinner with Emmanuel Macron on a surprise visit to Paris on Sunday night, Zelensky was questioned about US intelligence leaks suggesting he had considered trying to capture parts of Russia for use them as bargaining chips in peace negotiations. .

With Western governments insisting that their weapons must not be used to attack Russia, Zelensky said: “We are not attacking Russian territory, we are liberating our own legitimate territory, adding: “We have neither the time nor the strength. And we also don’t have any spare weapons with which we can do this.”

The International Charlemagne Prize was awarded to Volodymyr Zelensky and the people of Ukraine

(Federico Gambarini/Pool via REUTERS)

“We are preparing a counterattack for the illegally occupied areas based on our constitutionally defined legitimate borders, which are internationally recognized,” he continued.

Arrived as a Moscow-based newspaper Kommsersant reported that two Russian fighter jets and two helicopters, claimed to be very rare models introduced just weeks ago to jam Ukraine’s air defense systems, were shot down “simultaneously” inside Russia’s Bryansk region on Saturday, killing to all the pilots, in what some described. as the air force’s worst day since the start of the war.

While the incident raised alarm among Russian commentators about Kiev’s growing capabilities, Ukraine’s air force denied shooting down the four planes, which were reportedly carrying out a bombing raid on Chernihiv.

Huge cloud of smoke rises from an explosion in Russia near the border with Ukraine

Risking the wrath of the Kremlin, the powerful head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has been engaged in an unusual and vicious public spat with Russian defense chiefs over the war effort in Bakhmut, suggested that Russia may have shot down their own planes.

“Four planes, if you draw a circle at the places of their fall, it turns out that this circle has a diameter (and they all lie exactly on one circle) of 40 km. Now go online and see what kind of air defense weapon could be in the center of this circle, and then build your own versions,” Prigozhin said on Telegram.

However, Ukraine’s civilians appeared to bear the brunt of Russia’s arsenal on Sunday, when Moscow launched a “massive” attack on Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed explosive drones, injuring more than 30 people, according to the Ukrainian military.

Eighteen of the 23 drones were shot down, but those that made it through and the remnants of those intercepted damaged 50 apartment buildings, private homes and other buildings, the military said.

Russia also hit the western city of Ternopil and the southern city of Mykolaiv with rockets, injuring an unspecified number of civilians, while authorities said two civilians, a 59-year-old woman and a 65-year-old man, were killed by shelling. in Kharkov.

Additional Agency Reports

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