Ukraine says it is pushing back Russian forces trying to advance west

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The United States has said it will send more long-range multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine as Kyiv forces prepare for a slow Russian advance to seize more territory in the eastern Donbass region. .

The US weapons package announced on July 8 will include four high-mobility artillery rocket systems, known as HIMARS, bringing the total number of such systems sent to Ukraine since last month to 12.

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The announcement came after Russia’s top diplomat clashed with his Western counterparts at a G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, and after Russian President Vladimir Putin said maintaining sanctions on Russia could lead to catastrophic increases in energy prices for European households.

The Russian ambassador to Britain, meanwhile, painted a bleak outlook for the coming end of the war, predicting that Russian troops would capture the rest of Donbass in eastern Ukraine and that it was unlikely to withdraw from the south coast.

Ukraine would eventually have to strike a peace deal or “keep rolling down that hill” to ruin, Ambassador Andrei Kelin told Reuters in London.

Russia is likely concentrating its equipment in the direction of Siversk, about 8 kilometers west of the current front line, the British Ministry of Defense said.

Russian forces are now likely to halt to replenish before undertaking further offensive operations in the Donetsk region, while Ukrainian troops prepare to repel another assault, the ministry said.

On the Donbass front lines, the Ukrainian military reported Russian shelling of towns and villages ahead of a planned push for more territory.

Civilian and military infrastructure was hit in towns near Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, while shelling continued along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine, a report by the Ukrainian army headquarters on July 8.

WATCH: Oleksandr Kraskivskyi, village chief of Zamhlay in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region, says he tried to reason with occupying Russian troops but ended up being tied up, beaten and held captive. Kraskivskyi believes he survived after explaining that he served in the Soviet army in Afghanistan.

Russia is carrying out defensive operations in the direction of Kharkiv and trying to improve the tactical position in some areas, according to the report. The shelling of Kharkiv and its surroundings, as well as other populated areas in the region, continued.

The aid announced by the United States on July 8 is the 15th batch of arms and military equipment transferred to Ukraine from US Department of Defense stockpiles since last August.

On July 8, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s Chief of Staff urged the West to send more heavy weapons to counter what he called Russia’s “scorched earth tactics”.

“With a sufficient number of howitzers, self-propelled guns and HIMARS, our soldiers are able to stop and drive out invaders from our land,” Andriy Yermak said. tweeted.

Russia has accused the West of waging a proxy war against it by stepping up the supply of advanced weapons to Ukraine and imposing economic sanctions.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, in comments that contrasted with those of the Russian Ambassador to Britain, said he believed the war would end in one of three scenarios: a settlement negotiated, a long war of attrition or the collapse of the Russian Federation.

Speaking at a conference on July 8, Reznikov said that in the case of the first scenario, before negotiations could take place, both sides would withdraw to the positions they held on February 24, the day when Russia has begun its invasion.

The talks will focus on the status of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and Crimea.

“And we will conduct these negotiations around the table with our powerful partners. There will definitely be no Minsk 3,” he said, referring to failed efforts by Germany and France to find a peaceful solution with Russia after Russian-backed separatists broke up. first seized parts of Donbass and Crimea in 2014.

“There will be no surrender deals, and no one will negotiate with a gun to their head,” he said.

WATCH: Harrowing scenes in Kharkiv as Ukrainian officials say at least three people were killed and five were injured after Russian shells hit residential areas on July 7.

The second option, according to Reznikov, is the gradual destruction of the enemy – “a war of resources against resources”. This option would mean that an end would not come quickly. “Not until the end of this year, but maybe early next,” he said.

Reznikov also said that more than a million people are currently defending Ukraine. The majority – about 700,000 people – are mobilized in the armed forces. The others are National Guard, Border Guard and Federal Police troops.

US arms delivery announcement comes amid reports Ukraine has used HIMARS delivered so far to successfully strike Russian locations deeper behind front lines and disrupt capability Russia to carry out artillery operations, a senior US defense official told reporters.

Ukrainian forces used them to attack targets such as munitions dumps, hitting them with guided missiles launched from further away, out of range of Russian artillery. They did not use them to strike outside Ukraine, the official added.

The official acknowledged that Russian forces have recently made progress in eastern Ukraine, seizing more territory, but called it “very gradual, limited, hard-fought and very costly progress” and said it was “some selected small spaces in the Donbass”.

With reports from AFP, AP and Reuters

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