Russian forces south of the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut have taken heavy losses and appear to have fallen back amid intense artillery fire from the Ukrainian side, according to official and unofficial Ukrainian accounts, as well as reports from Russian military bloggers.
Ukraine has been trying to break Russian resistance here for several weeks. Ukrainian advances near Andriivka are part of a plan to encircle Bakhmut and drive out Russian forces, the spokesperson for the eastern grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Serhii Cherevatyi, said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military said it has made slight progress on the southern front, in an area that has seen constant fighting for nearly two months. Valerii Shershen, the spokesperson for Ukrainian forces in the south, said troops had advanced by some 500 meters in an area near the town of Staromaiorske — a target of the Ukrainians since the beginning of their counter-offensive.
Here's what else you should know to get up to speed:
- Grain deal: The UK believes Russia could target civilian ships in the Black Sea, following the Kremlin’s decision to leave the Black Sea Grain Initiative, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Tuesday. The Kremlin said it is “impossible” for Russia to return to the expired initiative until all conditions are met, snubbing suggestions by UN Secretary General António Guterres to rejoin the crucial deal. A European Union official proposed on Tuesday that member states should cover the additional costs of exporting Ukrainian grain by land following the collapse of the deal. And five European Union member states bordering Ukraine are requesting that an existing ban on imports of four types of Ukrainian grain be extended beyond the scheduled expiry date of September 15, the EU Council said Tuesday.
- Russian decisions: The Russian state Duma passed an amendment extending the military call-up age to include citizens from 18 to 30 years. Also, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office has declared the TV channel Rain (Dozhd) as an “undesirable organization,” which means penalties — including jail time— for anyone in Russia who donates to or cooperates with the channel.
- Military aid: US intelligence officials warned Russia is building a drone-manufacturing facility in the country with Iran's help that could have a significant impact on the war in Ukraine once it is completed. And on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new $400 million tranche of security assistance for Ukraine, which includes air defense munitions and armored vehicles.
- UN investigation: Russian accounts of a rocket attack on a camp holding Ukrainian prisoners of war in July 2022 are not supported by evidence, according to the United Nations. The findings by the UN Human Rights Commissioner (UN OHCHR) support the conclusions of an extensive CNN investigation published in August last year, which demonstrated that the Russian narrative that the camp had been hit by a Ukrainian HIMARS rocket did not stand up to scrutiny.
- Trevor Reed update: Trevor Reed, a former US Marine who was wrongfully detained in Russia for nearly three years before being released last year, was injured while participating in fighting in Ukraine, US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel confirmed Tuesday.