Ukraine’s Counter-Offensive: Progress, Challenges, and International Investigation

2023-07-03 20:55:06

More than a month after the start of the kyiv counter-offensive, none of the belligerents still seems able to make decisive progress.

“We are moving step by step.” Ukraine claimed to have taken back 37 km2 in the East and South on Monday, July 3, after a week “difficile” as part of its counter-offensive against the Russian army, which “strongly resist”. On the legal ground, kyiv welcomed the opening of an international investigation office on the crime of“assault” against Ukraine, a first step towards trials against Russian leaders. Here is what to remember from this new day of conflict.

Ukraine claims territorial “progress”

For a week, the Ukrainian army has taken over 28.4 square kilometers in the south of the country and 9 km2 in the east, said Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Maliar. “The enemy resists strongly, a very tough duel is underway”she pointed out, referring to Russian attacks in various sectors of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. “Last week was difficult on the front, but we are making progress. We are moving forward step by step”, summarized the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Telegram. We are far from the lightning successes won by the Ukrainian army in September, for example, when kyiv had taken over more than 9,000 km2 in nine days east of Kharkiv.

On the Russian side, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu assured that kyiv had no “achieves its goals on any axis” since the beginning of his counter-offensive. He claimed responsibility for the destruction of 16 Western Leopard tanks delivered to Ukraine. Reacting for the first time to the rebellion of the Wagner group at the end of June, Sergei Shoigu considered that the mutiny had “not affected troop operations” in Ukraine. Russia has ruled out any new mobilization to swell its troops, after the departure of the men of the paramilitary group Wagner from Ukraine.

An international investigation office opened in The Hague

An international office responsible for investigating the crime of“assault” against Ukraine opened in The Hague, Netherlands. Bringing together prosecutors from Kiev, the European Union, the United States and the International Criminal Court (ICC), this form of prosecution has the mission of investigating and collecting evidence, with the aim of holding trial against Russian civilian and military officials involved in the invasion of Ukraine.

This “International Center for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine” should fill “a gaping hole in the responsibility for the crime of aggression”said Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin. The ICC is only competent to try this crime if the country accused of it is a signatory to the Rome Statute, which is not the case with Russia. A special tribunal to try Russian leaders is now “inevitable”added Andriy Kotsine, referring to a “true historic moment” this Monday.

Moscow says it foiled high-level assassination attempt in Crimea

The Russian security services claimed to have foiled a murder plan targeting the leader installed by Moscow in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed in 2014. “Attempt to assassinate Crimean leader Sergei Aksionov organized by Ukrainian special services was foiled”thus advanced the FSB, accusing the Ukrainian secret services of having “recruited” a Russian citizen and for giving himsubversive intelligence training in Ukraine, including explosives”.

kyiv fires Georgian ambassador to Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelensky gave the Georgian ambassador 48 hours to leave Ukraine in connection with the fate reserved by Tbilisi for Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of this country and also a Ukrainian citizen. Main opposition figure to the current Georgian government, Mikheil Saakashvili, 55, appeared extremely thin and emaciated at his trial in Tbilisi on Monday. According to his doctors, he has lost some 60 kilos in prison since his arrest on his return from exile in 2021 and he suffers from heavy metal poisoning and anorexia.

“The world could see today once again how the Kremlin – at the hands of the current Georgian government – is killing Ukrainian citizen Mikheil Sakashvili”, accused Volodymyr Zelensky, on Telegram. The Ukrainian President instructed his government “to summon the Georgian ambassador, notify him of our protest and ask him to leave Ukraine within 48 hours for consultations in his capital”.

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