Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed the senior commander of the Ukrainian forces in Donbas, Edvard Moskalyov, without giving a reason. A drone attack on an airport near the Belarusian capital Minsk damaged a Russian plane.
Moskalyov took up the position in March of last year, shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.
Zeenski decided to oust him at a time when fierce fighting is taking place in eastern Ukraine, especially around Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, where intense fighting for this strategically important city has been going on for weeks.
Kiev is said to be planning an offensive in the coming months to liberate some territories in the east and south of the country, including Mariupol, a strategically important port city on the Sea of Azov with around half a million inhabitants, which Russian forces captured last May after several weeks of deadly siege.
In the meantime, it was reported from London that Moscow is probably concerned about unexplained explosions at military facilities in that city. According to the British Ministry of Defence, which relies on intelligence, up to 14 explosions have occurred in Mariupol since the beginning of this month alone, including at an ammunition depot, two fuel depots and a steel plant used for military purposes.
“Russia is likely to be concerned that the unexplained explosions are occurring in an area that it has probably previously judged to be beyond the range of Ukraine’s routine strike capabilities,” they announced from London, adding that Mariupol is located about 80 kilometers behind the current front line.
Mariupol, which was heavily devastated during the Russian siege at the beginning of the war, is important to Russia as it lies on a key logistics route and is the largest city captured by Russian forces last year and still under their control.
New Russian airstrikes
Meanwhile, the Russian army carried out new drone attacks over Ukraine, in which two people were killed and three were wounded, Ukrainian forces announced. They added that they managed to shoot down 11 out of 14 Shahed drones.
Ukrainian forces shot down nine drones over the capital Kyiv, said the head of the Kyiv military administration, Sergei Popko, without specifying whether the attack caused casualties or damage to infrastructure.
He explained that the attack was carried out in two separate waves, causing air raid alarms to sound for more than five hours. At the same time, he warned that Russian forces are trying to wear out Ukrainian air defense with such attacks.
Since mid-October, Russia has carried out numerous large-scale airstrikes, mainly on Ukrainian energy infrastructure facilities. Due to the widespread destruction of infrastructure, there were power outages in many places, affecting millions of people.
Russian plane damaged in the attack on the Belarusian airport
A Russian plane was damaged in a drone attack on Sunday at the airport near the Belarusian capital Minsk. Belarusian partisans claimed responsibility for the sabotage. Opposition leader Svetlana Tihanovska responded by announcing that she was proud of all Belarusians who continue to resist the “Russian hybrid occupation”.
“I am proud of all Belarusians who continue to resist the Russian hybrid occupation of Belarus and fight for the freedom of Ukraine,” Tihanovska said in response to the attack. Her advisor Frank Viacorka and called the attack the most successful sabotage since the beginning of 2022.
“Partisans have confirmed a successful special operation to blow up a Russian plane at the airport in Machulishch near Minsk,” tweeted Viacorca. He explained that the two Belarusians who carried out the attack with the help of a drone have already left the country and are currently safe.
He did not specify which Russian plane was the target of the attack, only saying that it was worth around 330 million euros. According to the media, which are close to the Belarusian opposition, it is supposed to be a Russian A-50 reconnaissance plane. He adds that the statements could not be independently verified. Neither the Russian nor the Belarusian side commented on the allegations.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, several acts of sabotage have been carried out in Belarus and in Russian regions bordering Ukraine.
Moscow and Minsk frequently hold large-scale military exercises, regularly fueling speculation that the Belarusian military could be involved in a Russian offensive in Ukraine.