Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to admit heavy losses in Ukraine, concede the severity of the Kremlin’s recent military setbacks and insisting that Russia would “stabilize” the situation in four Ukrainian regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – which it illegally claimed as its own territory last week. “We assume that the situation in the new territories will stabilize,” Putin told Russian teachers in a televised video call on Wednesday.
The head of the UN nuclear agency is on his way to Kyiv to discuss the creation of a safety zone around the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, after Putin ordered his government to take it back. “On the way to Kyiv for important meetings,” said the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Raphael Grossi wrote on Twitter, saying the need for a protective zone around the site was “more urgent than ever”. Grossi is also expected to travel to Moscow in the coming days to discuss the situation at the factory. The IAEA said it has learned of plans to restart a reactor at the plant, where all six reactors have been shut down for weeks.
Ukrainian forces push their advance east and south, forcing Russian troops to retreat under pressure from both fronts. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s military made major and rapid advances against Russian forces last week, retaking dozens of towns in southern and eastern regions that Russia declared annexed. Military experts say Russia is at its weakest point, partly because of its decision not to mobilize sooner and partly because of massive losses of troops and equipment.
Ukraine has extended its control zone in the Kherson region by six to 12 miles, according to his army’s southern command. Zelenskiy confirmed the takeover of the villages of Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka, saying the settlements had been “liberated from the sham referendum and stabilized”, in a speech on Wednesday. Moscow-appointed Kherson Region Governor Kirill Stremousov said the withdrawal was a tactical “regrouping” to “deal a retaliatory blow”. The extent of Russia’s withdrawal remains uncertain.
Moscow forces left behind destroyed cities formerly under occupation and, in places, mass burial sites and evidence of torture chambers. In Lymanwhich was recaptured by Ukrainian forces on Sunday, more than 50 graves have been discovered, some with names, others with numbers, Kyiv-based media outlet Hromadske reported on Wednesday.
The UN has warned of Russia’s claims the annexation of Ukrainian territory will only exacerbate human rights violations. Christian Salazar Volkmann, said UN experts had documented “a series of violations of the rights to life, liberty and security” and warned that the situation would only get worse as Russia would pursue the annexation of certain Ukrainian regions.
Attempts to play down retreats in Ukraine no longer spill over inside Russia with the latest military failures spilling onto local TV screens. “Why are we advancing meter by meter when they are advancing village by village?” Olga Skabeyeva, the country’s main state television host, asked a Russian-appointed official in Luhansk during a recent broadcast. Pro-war bloggers and military journalists are also criticize the Kremlin and paint a bleak picture of deteriorating Russian morale. Roman Saponkov, a prominent war correspondent, described his despair over Kherson’s pushback on his Telegram channel: “I really don’t know what to tell you. Retirement… is catastrophic.
Poland says it asked to have US nuclear weapons based on its territory, amid growing fears that Putin may resort to the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Polish President Andrzej Duda’s request is widely seen as symbolic and appears to be the latest example of nuclear signaling to deter Putin. The White House, however, said it had not received such a request.
The car bomb attack that killed Darya Duginadaughter of prominent Russian politician Alexander Dugin, allegedly authorized by elements within the Ukrainian governmentaccording to US intelligence sources who spoke with the New York Times and CNN. The United States took no part in the attack, either providing intelligence or other assistance, the officials said.
A SpaceX rocket carrying Russian cosmonaut, Anna Kikina, the only serving female cosmonaut, blasted into orbit from Florida on Wednesday. The International Space Station crew of Kikina, two Americans and a Japanese astronaut flew together in a show of US-Russian teamwork in space despite wartime tensions in Ukraine.