Six months ago Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops into Ukraine in a ‘special military operation’ – a massive invasion on a scale not seen in Europe since World War II. world.
Since then, tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions have fled and cities have been reduced to rubble by relentless Russian bombardment.
Russia was widely seen as preparing to claim a quick victory in Ukraine, but hopes of quickly toppling the pro-Western government of Volodymyr Zelenskyy quickly evaporated. Six months on, many analysts expect the conflict to be a long and crushing “war of attrition” that is causing widespread death, destruction and displacement in Ukraine – he has previously praised a high price for the country and its people – and is costly for Russia too.
Reversal of fortune
In recent months, Russian troops have withdrawn from Snake Island and occupied areas, such as Crimea and Kherson (from which Russian commanders are said to have fled). Russian forces are also seeing an increasing number of Ukrainian strikes in what could be the start of a much-vaunted counter-offensive by Kyiv forces to retake lost territory in the south.
On Thursday, Ukraine claimed more than 44,300 Russian troops had died in the current conflict, but that may be an exaggeration; the United States thinks it could be closer to the 15,000 mark. The last official tally released by the Russian Ministry of Defense was in March, with a total of 1,351.
US to announce $3 billion military aid to Ukraine
Six months after Russia invaded Ukraine, President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that he was sending $2.98 billion in new military aid to Ukraine, which will allow forces there to fight for years to come.
In a statement, Biden said the aid will enable Ukraine to acquire air defense systems, artillery systems and ammunition, drones and other equipment “to ensure it can continue to defend themselves over the long term”. The announcement comes as Ukraine celebrates its 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.
Ukraine ‘reborn after Russian invasion’ says Zelensky
Ukraine was “reborn” when Russia invaded it six months ago, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday as his country marked its Independence Day marred by fears that Moscow would step up its attacks. Kyiv’s international allies offered praise and new pledges of military aid to mark the occasion, with President Joe Biden announcing a nearly $3 billion package he says would enable the country to acquire weapons for long-term defense.
Draghi: Italy has stored 80% of natural gas reserves
Italy’s efforts to rapidly reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas have made the country less vulnerable to a supply disruption, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday, noting that the country has stored 80% of its gas capacity. gas reserves before winter and is on track to reach 90% by October.
Draghi told an annual summer festival in the Adriatic resort town of Rimini that Italy had cut its dependence on Russian natural gas from 40% last year to half by finding new sources in countries ranging from l Algeria to Azerbaijan.
The fuel is used to heat and cool homes, generate electricity and run factories. Italy could be fully independent from Russia by fall 2024 if it installs two new regasification plants, he added.