Ukrainian troops using US-supplied precision artillery severely damaged a bridge vital to Russian military supply lines in occupied Kherson, Ukrainian authorities said on Wednesday.
“Successful missile strikes on bridges over the Dnipro River by #UAarmy create an impossible dilemma for the Russian occupying forces in #Kherson,” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry tweeted. “Withdraw or be destroyed by #UAarmy. The choice is theirs.”
The bridge is one of two river crossings that Russia uses to transport personnel and equipment to Russian-occupied territories. The attack was not intended to destroy the bridge, but to disable its use by the Russian military, said Nataliya Gumenyuk, spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Operational Command South.
The Ukrainians used a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System that the US has supplied in recent weeks. Since its invasion five months ago, Russia has relied on less accurate artillery to shell civilian areas indiscriminately.
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►A “Hero of Ukraine” died in combat on Tuesday, the army reported. Major Oleksandr Kukurba, 28, was the intelligence chief of a tactical aviation brigade. In April, Kukurba was awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine and a military Gold Star for personal bravery and heroism. Three days of mourning began Wednesday.
►Germany approved the sale of 100 tank howitzers worth $1.7 billion, according to Der Spiegel and other media reports. The deal is worth about three times the value of what Germany has delivered to Ukraine so far.
►Ukraine estimated total Russian combat losses at more than 40,000 killed or wounded, along with the destruction of 1,738 tanks and 3,971 armored vehicles. Neither country is releasing details of its own losses.
►Inflation in Ukraine rose from 10% in January to 21.5% in June, “mainly due to war-induced shocks and global price pressures,” according to the National Bank of Ukraine.
►Ukraine parliament approved lawmaker Andriy Kostin, a staunch loyalist of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s party, as attorney general. Kostin replaces Iryna Venediktova, who was removed from office this month over concerns about treason within the ranks of the office.
US made ‘substantial’ offer to release Griner, compatriot
WNBA star Brittney Griner and compatriot Paul Whelan could be freed from captivity in Russia under the terms of a deal proposed by the Biden administration, Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.
It is not yet known whether Russia will accept the deal, but Blinken’s admission and his revelation that he plans to communicate with his Kremlin counterpart for the first time since the start of the war mark a major reversal of the earlier policy.
Blinken said the US “put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago” to facilitate their release and that he plans to argue his case during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Blinken didn’t disclose details of the possible prisoner swap, but CNN reported that the US offered Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer nicknamed “The Merchant of Death.”
Griner, who was arrested at a Moscow airport in February on drug-related charges, testified in a Russian court on Wednesday, saying her interpreter only translated a fraction of what she said when she was questioned after she was detained. Griner also testified that she was not given an explanation of her rights or access to a lawyer and that she was told to sign documents that she did not understand.
Griner, 31, has pleaded guilty to a drug charge that could carry up to 10 years in prison.
Zelenskyy: Biden’s visit would be ‘big signal’ of support
Joe Biden visiting Ukraine would send a “big signal” of support for the war-ravaged nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview in Britain to be broadcast on TalkTV on Wednesday. The White House has not announced plans for a Biden trip to Kiev.
Zelenskyy noted that first lady Jill Biden received critical acclaim in Ukraine when she visited on Mother’s Day. And Zelenskyy said his wife’s visit to the White House and Congress drew a lot of response in the US
“President Biden’s visit to Ukraine would be the strongest signal that can be given in support of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.
The Philippine government is canceling a plan to purchase 16 Russian military transport helicopters over concerns over US sanctions, a Philippine defense official said.
Delfin Lorenzana told The Associated Press that he canceled the $227 million deal to purchase the Mi-17 helicopters while serving as Secretary of Defense under former President Rodrigo Duterte, whose six-year term ended June 30. He said US security officials were aware of Manila’s decision and could offer similar heavy-lift helicopters.
Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez said the deal was canceled because Manila could have faced sanctions under a US law called the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
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‘Gas is now part of Russian foreign policy’: EU energy concerns are mounting
Russia’s Gazprom was one step away from cutting gas supplies to Europe through the Nord Stream pipeline on Wednesday after power was cut to 20% of capacity. The energy giant blames the cuts on shutting down another Siemens turbine at the Portovaya compressor station.
Gazprom needs extensive documentation to verify that the turbines, which have been sent to Canada for maintenance, do not violate sanctions. European leaders dismiss the paperwork demands as a ruse by Russia as it seeks political power over Europe before the winter.
“Gas is now part of Russian foreign policy and possibly Russian war strategy,” German energy official Klaus Mueller told Deutschlandfunk radio.
Contributions: The Associated Press