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Moscow outlines territorial gains in Ukraine conflict 

Russia has pushed Kiev’s forces from 880 square kilometers of land this year, the defense minister has said 

Russia has pushed Ukrainian forces back from some 880 square kilometers of land so far this year, Defense Minister Andrey Belousov said on Friday.  

Some of the fastest advances were made recently in Ukraine’s Kharkov Region, where the front line has been moved nearly 10km away from Russian territory, the minister said. The offensive was launched earlier this month with the stated goal of creating a buffer zone along the border to stop Ukrainian attacks on Russia’s Belgorod Region.  

Kiev’s setbacks near Kharkov have prompted the administration of US President Joe Biden to authorize Ukraine to use US-supplied weapons on targets inside Russia that pose a direct threat on that axis, according to Western media reports and the Ukrainian government. Officials in Washington had previously claimed they did not consent to Ukrainian use of American arms outside of what Kiev claims to be its territory.  

The Russian minister said that Kiev has maintained its intention to inflict damage upon Russia despite losing the initiative on the battlefield. In order to demonstrate its military prowess to the US and its allies, it has been launching attacks on Russian civilian infrastructure, Belousov alleged.  

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FILE PHOTO. Ukrainian soldiers take part in assault unit training
Ukraine lost over 35,000 troops in May – Moscow

On Thursday, Russian air defenses stopped a barrage of ten US-donated ATACMS missiles that Kiev had fired at the Crimean Bridge, he said, noting that it was the largest attack of this kind since the hostilities started in February 2022.  

Ukraine and its Western backers claim that Crimea is part of Ukraine, despite the peninsula’s population having voted overwhelmingly to join Russia in a referendum in 2014.  

In May, Russian air defenses intercepted a total of 50 ATACMS ground-launched ballistic missiles, as well as 8 SCALP-type cruise missiles provided to Kiev by the UK and France, over 1,000 drones, and dozens of other aerial weapons, Belousov said. Over the same period of time, Ukraine lost over 35,000 troops and more than 2,700 pieces of heavy weaponry, he added.  

Belousov reported the military achievements in Kazakhstan during a meeting with his counterparts from other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Eurasian mutual defense organization.

May 31, 2024 at 08:56PM

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