Ukraine said its forces continue to make progress eastwards toward the Russian-occupied Donbas region, paving the way for an attempt to potentially retake parts of Luhansk province.
Ukrainian governor of Luhansk province Serhiy Gaidai said Ukrainian forces have recaptured the village of Bilohorivka, a suburb 10 kilometers (6 miles) west of the city of Lysychansk, which fell to Russian forces after fierce fighting in July.
Although the reports could not be independently verified, the capture of Bilohorivka would mean that Russia no longer has full control of Luhansk province. Lysychansk was the last Ukrainian city in Luhansk to fall after the Russian summer offensive in the region, which Moscow touted as a major victory.
Gaidai said Ukrainian troops are preparing to take the rest of Luhansk province from the Russian occupiers.
“Every inch will be fought for,” Gaidai wrote on Telegram. “The enemy is preparing their defense. So we won’t just march in,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian troops gained ground as Russian soldiers left territory.
“The occupiers are clearly in a panic,” Zelenskyy said in a televised speech late Monday, adding that he was now focusing on “speed” in liberated areas.
On Tuesday, Russian-installed officials in Luhansk claimed that a Ukrainian attack on Krasnorichenske, a village about 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of Lysychansk, killed seven civilians.
Here’s an overview of some other key developments on September 20 regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Calls for referendums in Donesk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia
On Tuesday, Russian-backed separatists in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) said they would hold a referendum on joining Russia between September 23 and 27, Russia’s TASS news agency said.
Shortly afterwards, the neighboring Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said it would also hold a similar referendum on the same dates.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it is up to the people living in the “respective areas” to decide their fate.
Earlier Tuesday, Russia’s former president and current head of the Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, said it is “essential” that the separatist People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk hold referendums to join the Russian Federation.
Medvedev said on social media that joining Russia would be vital to protect their interests as it could further justify Russia’s use of military force against Ukrainian forces in the Donbas.
The comments come as Vyacheslav Volodin, head of the State Duma, said Moscow will support the citizens of the Donbas if they decide to join Russia. Only three countries recognize the two self-declared republics as independent: Russia, Syria and North Korea.
Moscow-backed leaders in the Russian-occupied Kherson region of southern Ukraine and pro-Russian activists in the partially occupied region
The Zaporizhzhya region also plans to hold rapid referenda on accession to Russia.
In Kherson, the strategic port city that is the westernmost point of the Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine, Russian-installed leader Vladimir Saldo urged Moscow to give the green light to a local referendum so that Kherson would “be a part of Russia could become a full-fledged subject of a united country.”
Russia Reportedly Moving Submarines in the Black Sea
Russia has removed a significant portion of its Black Sea fleet submarines from Crimea after attacks on Russian naval bases and other military installations in the region, the British Ministry of Defense said.
The ministry said Russia’s Black Sea Fleet command had “almost certainly” moved KILO-class submarines from Sevastopol, the Crimean port city under Russian control, to the Black Sea port city of Novorossiysk.
“This is most likely due to the recent change in the local security threat level in light of increased Ukrainian long-range attacks,” it said in an intelligence update on Tuesday.
Attacks on Russian naval installations in Crimea have increased in recent weeks
UK pledges more military aid to Ukraine
British Prime Minister Liz Truss announced Tuesday morning that next year the UK will meet or exceed the £2.62 billion ($2.63 billion) military aid spent on Ukraine in 2022.
In a statement, Truss’s office said this future military support likely includes multiple missile launch systems that will be used on the battlefield.
“My message to the people of Ukraine is this: the UK will be right behind you every step of the way,” she said. “Your safety is our safety.”
German foreign minister accuses Russia of attacking core UN values
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said this week’s United Nations General Assembly, which begins Tuesday, will not be “like the previous one”.
Before the meeting in New York City, Baerbock said the Russian invasion of Ukraine undermines the principles on which the UN is founded.
Baerbock said her focus at the meeting would be on “how to deal with and prosecute the heinous crimes committed in Ukraine in the name of Russia”.
“It takes the United Nations to find common solutions to global problems,” she added. “No country should live in fear of a stronger neighbor attacking it.”
Check out TBEN’s latest coverage of the war in Ukraine
Ukrainian state energy company Energoatom said a Russian missile landed early Sunday near the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in the Mykolaiv region, causing minor damage to some buildings.
TBEN will report from the weekend about the threat of a nuclear disaster and other developments.
Amid extensive sanctions from the West, Russia has attempted a second economic pivot toward Asia.
TBEN looks at why this new strategy hasn’t paid off at recent leaders’ conferences.
zc/wmr (Reuters, TBEN, TBEN, dpa)