Ukraine warns of new Russian offensive; Sweden, Finland move closer to joining


  • Ukraine warns of new Russian southern offensive
  • Strike force aimed at president’s hometown, says Ukraine
  • U.S., Italy approve Finland, Sweden accession to NATO
  • Ukraine calls on China to help end war, says SCMP

KYIV/WASHINGTON, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Ukraine said Russia had started creating a military strike force aimed at President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih, while NATO moved closer to its most significant expansion in decades as the alliance responds to the invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S. Senate and the Italian parliament both approved on Wednesday Finland and Sweden’s accession to the 30-member North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Under NATO membership, which must be ratified by all 30 member states, an attack on one member is an attack against all. read more

“This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan U.S. commitment to NATO, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement.

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Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, has repeatedly warned Finland and Sweden against joining NATO.

NATO’s 30 allies signed the accession protocol last month, allowing them to join the U.S.-led nuclear-armed alliance once its members ratify the decision. read more

Ratification could take up to a year.

Ukraine on Wednesday dismissed suggestions by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that Russia wanted a “negotiated solution” to the war and said any dialogue would be contingent on a Russian ceasefire and withdrawal of its troops.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Thursday that Ukraine was seeking an opportunity to speak “directly” with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help end the war.

“It’s a very powerful state. It’s a powerful economy … So (it) can politically, economically influence Russia. And China is (also a) permanent member of the U.N. Security Council,” Zelenskiy told SCMP in an interview.

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

NEW OFFENSIVE

On the battleground, Russian forces were engaged in considerable military activity, firing from tanks, barrel and rocket artillery in several parts of Ukraine, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Thursday.

Earlier, Ukraine said Russia had begun creating a strike group in the Kryvyi Rih direction and that it could be preparing new offensive operations in southern Ukraine. read more

The steel-producing city of Kryvyi Rih where Zelenskiy grew up lies around 50 km (30 miles) from the southern frontline.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, said on the Telegram app that three civilians had been killed in Bakhmut, Maryinka and Shevchenko and five wounded in the past 24 hours.

Governors of the Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk regions reported that their regions had been shelled overnight, and civilian infrastructure, houses had been damaged.

“The idea is to put military pressure on us in Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk over the next few weeks…What is happening in the east is not what will determine the outcome of the war,” Ukrainian Presidential…



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