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Kharkov marks a “turning point” in the confrontation with Russia

Olga Stefanishyna, the deputy PM of Ukraine, informed France 24 late Tuesday that the country’s recent territorial advances in Kharkov mark a “turning point” in the confrontation with Russia. Even while Stefanishyna stated Ukraine had turned down Russian peace overtures, Russia claimed it had launched “massive attacks” on Ukrainian positions.

Ukraine recaptured a large section of land in the Kharkov area last week; Kiev called it a successful counteroffensive, while Russia played down the event, saying it was part of a larger strategy to “regroup” and bolster its positions in Donetsk.

Stefanishyna remarked, “It’s not just the turning moment of the full-scale conflict… it’s the tipping point of the conflict that began in the springtime of 2014,” alluding to Kiev’s eight-year attempt to crush the sovereignty of the Donetsk & Lugansk People’s Republics.

In the hours after the supposed military offensive, Stefanishyna said, Russian officials called out to Kiev and offered to propose a peace treaty in return for a ceasefire. Russia’s Foreign Affairs minister Sergey Lavrov stated on Sunday that Moscow is still ready for talks despite the fact that the more its military campaign goes on, the more challenging it would be to achieve peace.

According to Stefanishyna, Ukraine would only start discussions if it has fulfilled its military goals, and the country has already rejected the rumored Russian offer.  Vladimir Zelensky has said repeatedly that removing Russian soldiers from Ukraine and retaking the separatist regions of the Donbass including Crimea, which opted to join Russia in 2014, are the primary military objectives of the Ukrainian government in Kiev.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense disclosed on Tuesday that all air force, missile soldiers, and artillery had undertaken “massive attacks” on Ukrainian positions the day before, despite Stefanishyna’s assurance. The ministry said its bombings of Ukrainian positions at Slavyansk & Konstantinovka in eastern Ukraine near Artemovsk as well as Kurdyumovka inside the Donetsk People’s Republic killed more than 850 Ukrainian and foreign forces.

The ministry also said that assaults against Ukrainian battalions in the south and at Kharkov inside the northeast resulted in the deaths of 300 soldiers and that a separate set of strikes destroyed a 45,000-ton munitions stockpile in the vicinity of Voznesensk in the Nikolaev area.

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