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Ukraine live briefing: Kyiv’s counteroffensive won’t reach Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, U.S. predicts


A Ukrainian soldier runs in a trench during a combat operation on the front line in the Zaporizhzhya region, on Aug. 10. (Libkos/AP)

U.S. intelligence officials don’t expect Ukraine to reach the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in its counteroffensive, according to people familiar with a classified forecast. Melitopol is at the intersection of two important highways and a railroad line that allow Russia to move troops and supplies from the Crimean peninsula to other occupied territories in southern Ukraine.

In Moscow, officials reported early Friday that a drone was shot down. Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of “launching a terrorist attack.”

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Ukraine’s forces, which are pushing toward Melitopol from the town of Robotyne more than 50 miles away, will remain several miles outside the city, U.S. officials predicted. If they fail to eject Russian troops from Melitopol, it will mean Ukraine will fail to achieve one of its key goals in the ongoing counteroffensive: to sever the land bridge connecting Russia to the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow seized from Kyiv in 2014.

The drone that was shot down in Russia’s capital fell on a nonresidential building, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. There were no casualties or fires resulting from the interception, the ministry said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday signed legislation extending martial law until mid-November. If martial law is not lifted, national parliamentary elections scheduled for the fall will be delayed. The constitution stipulates that parliamentary elections should take place no later than Oct. 29 and presidential elections early next year.

Gene Spektor, a U.S. citizen in Russia, was taken into custody on espionage charges Thursday, according to Russian state media. Spektor had previously been convicted of bribery. A State Department spokesperson, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive diplomatic issue, said officials were monitoring the situation. “When a U.S. citizen is detained overseas, the Department works to provide all appropriate assistance,” the spokesperson said.

Ukraine said it doesn’t expect to fly U.S.-built F-16 fighter jets in battle this year. “We had big hopes for this plane, that it will become part of air defense, able to protect us from Russia’s missiles and drones terrorism,” Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told a joint telethon broadcast by local channels. “It is already obvious that we will not be able to protect Ukraine with F-16 aircraft this fall and winter,” he said. The first batch of pilots training on the aircraft have faced delays.

Ukraine will host a defense industries forum in the fall, Zelensky said. “It will be the first time such a large-scale event will be held at the state level. Ukrainian and foreign arms manufacturers will be invited, he said. The event will seek to boost arms production inside Ukraine “through localization with partners,” he added.

A new Pentagon review of biological threats says Russia probably maintains the ability to create deadly toxins and pathogens, The Washington Post reported. Moscow also has an active offensive biological weapons program, according to the report. In March 2022, the White House warned that Russia could employ bioweapons in Ukraine. There is some limited evidence that Russia has used low-grade chemical attacks in Ukraine, and Zelensky said last year that Moscow had used bombs that dispersed white phosphorus, a highly incendiary chemical. Moscow at the time denied it had violated international conventions.

Germany unveiled a new security assistance package to Ukraine. Berlin will send Kyiv two IRIS-T SLS air defense systems, 10 ground surveillance radars and several thousand rounds of smoke ammunition, according to an updated list of Germany’s military aid to Ukraine. Zelensky expressed thanks in his nightly address for the new supplies.

Turkey criticized Russia’s raid of a ship last week that occurred near Turkey’s coast in the Black Sea. In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, a Turkish presidential office said Russia had been warned to avoid such attempts because they would “escalate tensions in the Black Sea.” Russia has described the incident as an inspection of the ship, before it sailed on to Ukraine.

The Czech Republic put the head of the Russian-owned Tactical Missiles Corp. on its sanctions list along with his daughter and son-in-law after a campaign by Russian activists. Boris Obnosov, whose company produces missiles and aerial bombs that have been destroying Ukrainian cities, continued to live in Prague, the Czech capital, after Russia’s invasion. He and other family members reportedly own real estate in Prague worth more than $8 million.

Russia recruited operatives online to target weapons crossing Poland: Polish authorities suspect that Russia’s military intelligence agency built a network of amateurs to carry out espionage and sabotage missions inside Poland, Greg Miller, Loveday Morris and Mary Ilyushina report. Russia’s aim was to disrupt a weapons pipeline through Poland that accounts for more than 80 percent of the military hardware delivered to Ukraine, Polish and Western officials say.

The foiled operation posed the most serious Russian threat on NATO soil since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine last year, according to Polish officials. “This is the first sign that the Russians are trying to organize sabotage — even terrorist attacks — in Poland,” said Stanislaw Zaryn, who oversees the country’s security services.

POST AUTHOR: Andrew Jeong

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