While the African peace delegation left empty handed… Fierce battles on the hot contact lines between the Russian and Ukrainian forces

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Russia said fierce fighting broke out on Sunday across three sectors of the front line in Ukraine, a day after it hosted an unsuccessful African peace mission in either Moscow or Kiev.

A Russian-appointed official said Ukraine had recaptured the village of Pyatikhatki in the southern Zaporizhia region and its forces holed up there while coming under Russian artillery fire.

“The enemy’s successive attacks yielded results despite heavy losses,” added the official, Vladimir Rogov, via Telegram.

The Russian Defense Ministry didn’t mention the village of Pyatikhatki in its daily briefing, in which it said its forces had repulsed Ukrainian attacks in three sectors of the 1,000-kilometre front line.

A separate statement from Russia’s Vostok Group of Forces said Ukraine had not succeeded in capturing the village.

There was no comment from Ukraine, which last week said it had recaptured another nearby village, Lubkov, and a string of villages to its east in the Donetsk region as it launched its long-awaited counter-offensive.

Ukrainian officials enforce a media blackout to bolster operational security, but say Russia suffered far greater losses than Ukrainian forces in its latest offensive.

An official in the region said Ukrainian forces had destroyed a large Russian munitions depot in the occupied Kherson region as part of Kiev’s weeks-long effort to wreak havoc on Russian supply lines.

British military intelligence said that the fierce fighting in the past days focused on Zaporizhia, western Donetsk and the vicinity of Bakhmut, which captured by Wagner mercenaries last month after a battle that was the longest during this war.

“Ukraine continues offensive operations in all of these areas, and has made little progress,” added on Twitter.

According to British military intelligence’s assessment, Russian defensive operations were relatively effective in the south, with both sides suffering heavy losses.

A few days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who rarely comments on the course of the war, made two unusually detailed comments in which he mocked the Ukrainian offensive and said Kiev’s forces had no chance of overcoming his country’s forces despite their recent acquisition of Western tanks.

His comments appeared aimed at reassuring the Russians at a crucial juncture, nearly 16 months into the conflict, as Ukraine seeks to end a months-long stalemate and reclaim the 18 percent of its territory still under Russian control.

In St. Petersburg on Saturday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa presented Putin with a 10-point peace initiative put forward by seven African countries and told him it was time for Russia and Ukraine to start negotiations to end the war.

Putin responded with a series of familiar accusations denied by Ukraine and the West, and said it was Kiev, not Moscow, that refused to hold the talks.

The Russian president thanked Ramaphosa for his noble mission.

The shown interest in the plan, but that it was difficult to implement.

A day earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the African delegation, which visited Kiev for the first time since the war began for separate, direct talks on the peace initiative, that allowing negotiations now would only lead to freezing the war and continuing the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

Further underscoring the vast gulf between the two sides, Putin used a groundbreaking economic forum on Friday personally insult Zelensky and to reaffirm Ukraine’s demilitarization goals he declared on the first day of the war.

Kiev and the West reject those goals, describing them as a false pretext for the invasion.

Nevertheless, Ramaphosa sought to project a positive image of the Ukraine-Russia visit, writing on Twitter Sunday that the African Peace Initiative has had an impact and its ultimate success will be measured against its objective, which is to stop the war.

He added that African leaders will continue to talk to both Putin and Zelensky and will brief UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on their efforts so far.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Sunday, that the African delegation doesn’t expect the talks to have immediate results, adding that it’s a beginning that we hope will bear fruit in the end.

Zelensky praised the ability of Ukrainian forces to very effectively repel Russian attacks near Avdiivka, one of the main fighting points in the east of the country.

“The Avdiivka sector is repelling attacks very effectively,” he said in his videotaped evening address.

Ukrainian military officials have reported progress on the southern front.

The war destroyed Ukrainian villages and cities, forced millions to leave their homes, inflicted heavy human losses among Russian and Ukrainian forces that weren’t disclosed, as well as killing thousands of Ukrainian civilians.

The two sides accused each other of blowing up a huge dam in Ukraine on June 6 and flooding large swathes of the war zone.

The United Nations stated today that Russia has so far refused our request to enter the areas under its temporary military control after the dam blown up.

“The United Nations will continue to work towards the necessary access to the areas… We urge the Russian authorities to act in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law… Help cannot be withheld from those who need it,” Denise Brown, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, said in a statement.

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