Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” In Ukraine; Day 551

Allies will not support Ukraine if it moves hostilities to Russia: Zelensky

The coalition aiding Ukraine’s fight against Moscow’s invasion would not support Kyiv if it were to move the hostilities to Russian territory, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated Monday.

“I believe that this is a big risk, we will definitely be left alone,” he said in an interview with national media, where he was asked if it was time for such a move to Russian soil.

Zelensky added Ukraine’s fight to reclaim its own territory has been critically aided by its relationships with allies.

The progress and responsibility for Ukraine on the battlefield “is always bilateral,” Zelensky said, adding that international partners are a part of any victory, any hold-up in the counteroffensive, any defensive actions and any weakness.

Zelensky also stressed he believes it is possible to “push for the demilitarization of Russia” in Crimea by political means.

The last several months have seen a rise in strikes on Russian soil, with Russian officials saying Ukrainian drones and shelling are responsible for attacks that have at times wounded or killed civilians.

Officials in Kyiv have alluded to the incidents — Zelensky said after drone attacks last month, for example, that the war is “returning to Russia” — but Ukraine often declines to take explicit credit for attacks across the border.

Ukraine has, by contrast, taken credit for attacks by sea drones and other weaponry on Russian-held Crimea and surrounding Black Sea targets, promising there will be more to come.

Moscow seized the peninsula and declared it annexed Russian territory back in 2014, in a move denounced as illegal by Ukraine, the US and international bodies. Kyiv has announced its goal of driving Russia out of Ukraine includes reclaiming Crimea.

Ukraine claims more gains on southern front as Russia intensifies attacks in northeast

Ukraine’s forces are making more progress in the country’s southern Zaporizhzhia region, while Russian troops have intensified attacks in areas surrounding the embattled city of Kupiansk on the eastern front line, the Ukrainian military said Sunday.

Around Kupiansk: Russia “has significantly increased the number of attacks. As of yesterday, the enemy shelled the positions of our defenders 620 times and carried out 15 airstrikes,” Illya Yevlash, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s forces on the eastern front, said on national television.

“However, the enemy’s emphasis has changed somewhat. They are shifting their focus from the Kupiansk sector to Novoiehorivka,” Yevlash added, referring to a village northeast of Kupiansk.

Ukrainian forces repelled 10 attacks in the area over the past day, the spokesperson continued.

Russian shelling around Kupiansk has been so intense in recent weeks that it has prompted one of Ukraine’s largest-scale evacuations of the conflict.

Near Bakhmut: Ukraine is still on the offensive in the Bakhmut direction, and continues to advance “meter by meter,” Yevlash said. Over the past day, Russian forces shelled Ukrainian positions 590 times, using multiple rocket launchers and cannon artillery of various calibers, according to the spokesperson.

A total of 14 combat engagements took place on Saturday, Yevlash continued.

“The enemy is resorting to counterattacks, trying in vain to regain lost ground,” he added, noting that Russia’s tactics “remain virtually unchanged” in the area.

Since the Wagner private military group claimed to capture the eastern city in May, Ukraine has maintained that it is still fighting for Bakhmut and picking up gains in territory immediately surrounding the city.

Zaporizhzhia region: In southern Ukraine, Kyiv’s forces continue to advance near the village of Robotnye, said Oleksandr Shputun, a Ukrainian military spokesperson for units in the region.

Ukrainian troops are advancing in the direction of Novoprokopivka — another village, located just south of Robotyne — and north toward the settlement of Mala Tokmachka, Shputun said on national television Sunday.

“Recently, the enemy has increased the number of airstrikes,” he said. “But this also means that other firepower is no longer able to hold back the progress of our troops.”

Ukraine has claimed successes in Robotyne and surrounding areas over the past several days, with social media video and images showing troops had entered the village. Almost no buildings are still standing in Robotyne, Kyiv’s forces say.

Armed assistance ‘small price to pay’ for peace: Zelenskyy aide

Ukraine presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has said that the only way to protect international law and territorial integrity is to “ensure Ukraine’s victory and the complete defeat of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s invasion”.

“This will be the best lesson for anyone who may be tempted to invade neighboring territories today,” he posted on social media platform X.

In this regard, armed assistance to Ukraine is the smallest price to pay for peace in the world,” he added.

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