26 June 2023
Russia wants to stop Ukraine's offensive at any cost, according to Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar. "At the very least, if not to stop it, then to complicate and slow down the advance of Ukrainian units and meanwhile prepare its own counter-offensive," she said.
Separately, she stated that the Ukrainian Defence Forces have liberated the village of Rivnopil, Volnovakha District, Donetsk Region, and are moving on. The village was occupied by Russians in March 2022.
Over the past week, the Ukrainian Armed Forces continued their offensive in the Melitopol and Berdyansk sectors, Malyar said. "Last week, the frontline was levelled, the operational and tactical situation improved, and as a result, 17 sq km were liberated. If we count the total area of the offensive in the south, about 130 sq km have already been liberated," she said.
According to Malyar, the mercenaries of the Wagner PMC, who took part in the failed rebellion of Yevhen Prigozhin, are being transferred back to eastern Ukraine.
Russians continue to focus their main efforts on the Lyman, Bakhmut and Maryinka sector where over 35 combat engagements took place over the day, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in its evening update.
Russian troops launched 36 air strikes and fired 17 times from multiple launch rocket systems.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine shot down two Kalibr cruise missiles and seven Shahed-136/131 attack UAVs. The Russians attacked from the north with four unmanned aerial vehicles of an unspecified type (probably attack drones), all of which were destroyed.
Ukrainian aviation carried out six strikes on the clusters of Russian personnel over the day. Missile and artillery units struck a command post and 10 artillery units at firing positions.
As of 26 June, almost 8,800 civilians in Ukraine are considered victims of enforced disappearances, and another 10,200 people are missing, according to the National Police.
Today Russians targeted Nikopol in Dnipropetrovsk Region with heavy artillery, killing at least two and wounding one person, the regional authorities said.
About 24,000 Ukrainian servicemen have undergone training in EU countries, with 30,000 more expected to be trained by the end of the year, according to High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
The EU Council adopted a decision which would increase the overall financial ceiling of the European Peace Facility (EPF) by €3.5 billion. "With that decision, a clear political signal is given of the Union's continued commitment to provide military support to Ukraine and other partners as well," its website reads.
The Bulgarian government has approved another package of military and technical assistance to Ukraine.
The USA plans to announce a new $500m aid package for Ukraine on Tuesday. It is expected to include 30 Bradley fighting vehicles and 25 Stryker armoured personnel carriers.
Sweden has unveiled a new package of aid to Ukraine for humanitarian and reconstruction needs totalling SEK 380 million (EUR 32.51 million). Sweden will support the Ukrainian Red Cross with the purchase of medicines, sanitary and water purification products.
Australia pledged $100m in new military support for Ukraine, including vehicles and ammunition, The Guardian reported.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian embassy in Israel has accused the country's government of siding closely with Russia, as evidenced by a number of "rather controversial events" that took place this year in parallel with the almost complete absence of Israeli humanitarian aid.
The Wagner PMC's rebellion led by their founder Yevgeny Prigozhin exposed the weakness of the Putin regime, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. According to him, in order to defeat Russia, three conditions must be fulfilled: Ukraine must receive necessary military assistance, sanctions pressure must be increased, and the international community must act decisively.
At the NATO summit in Vilnius in July, Ukraine is seeking a "clear invitation to join the Alliance under a simplified procedure", according to presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak. Consultations and negotiations with partners are underway to make this summit effective for Ukraine.
In a comment to LB.ua, Yuriy Husyev, who has headed the Ukrainian defence concern Ukroboronprom since December 2020, has confirmed stepping down.
Herman Smetanin, the head of Kharkiv's Malyshev Plant, may become the new head of Ukroboronprom. According to Ukrayinska Pravda and LB.ua's sources, on 24 June, the government approved his candidacy to replace Yuriy Husyev.
The masterminds of the attack on civil society activist Kateryna Handzyuk, the head of the Kherson regional council, Vladyslav Manher, and the assistant to the regional council deputy, Oleksiy Levin, were sentenced to 10 years in prison. Handzyuk died on 4 November 2018 after she was attacked and 40 per cent of her body was affected by chemical burns.
Ternopil regional council head Mykhaylo Holovko and his two deputies have been served notices of suspicion of extorting a bribe from an entrepreneur.