Ukraine forces retake new settlement in South
Ukrainian forces have recaptured another formerly Russian-held settlement on the southern front between the two armies, deputy defence minister Ganna Malyar said yesterday.
"Defence forces returned Rivnopil under our control. Let's push on," the minister posted on her Telegram account, referring to a rural community in the Donetsk region.
This month Ukraine launched a counteroffensive against the Russian troops occupying around a fifth of its territory in the south and east of the country.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has admitted that the advance has not gone as fast as had been hoped, despite Ukraine starting to deploy more Western-supplied weapons and tanks.
But there has been a breakthrough in the Mokri Yaly river valley, south of Velika Novosilka in the Donetsk, and the recapture of Rivnopil would be a continuation of this advance.
Russian forces had confirmed that there was fighting for Rivnopil on June 16, two weeks after the official launch of Ukraine's summer counteroffensive, reports AFP.
Earlier, in a summary of last week's fighting, Malyar said another 17 square kilometres (6.5 square miles) had been liberated, bringing the total to 130 square kilometres. The biggest pocket of reclaimed territory is south of Vugledar, including Rivnopil.
Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday appeared in a Kremlin video address, speaking for the first time since the aborted mutiny of Wagner mercenary chief this weekend, reports Reuters.
Putin addressed a youth forum dubbed the "Engineers of the future" where he praised companies for ensuring "the stable operation" of the country's industry "in the face of severe external challenges".
Meanwhile, Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said yesterday, in his first public comments since ending a one-day mutiny by his force, that it had been intended to register a protest at the ineffectual conduct of the war in Ukraine, not to overthrow the government in Moscow.
Prigozhin spoke in an 11-minute audio message released on the Telegram messaging app.
Russia's defence minister was shown yesterday discussing the war in Ukraine with troops - sending a message of business.
The armed mutiny over the weekend by the powerful Wagner Group and its abrupt ending with no apparent penalties for the perpetrators or their leader were followed yesterday by other official moves to return the country to normal.
The extraordinary events left governments, both friendly and hostile to Russia, groping for answers to what could happen next in the country with the world's largest nuclear arsenal.
Nato head Jens Stoltenberg said the weekend mutiny showed that Putin's invasion of Ukraine was a "mistake".
"We are monitoring the situation in Russia. The events over the weekend are an internal Russian matter, and yet another demonstration of the big strategic mistake that President Putin made with his illegal annexation of Crimea and the war against Ukraine," Stoltenberg told reporters.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said before heading into an EU meeting: "We are seeing massive cracks in the Russian propaganda."
She said Putin's war in Ukraine, which he calls a "special military operation" to counter a threat from there and the West to Russia and Russians, was destroying Russia and that Western allies would continue to back Ukraine.
Wagner's aborted mutiny shows Moscow's war in Ukraine is splintering Russian power, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said yesterday.
Russia's national Anti-Terrorism Committee said the situation in the country was stable and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said he was cancelling a counter-terrorism regime imposed in the capital Moscow.