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Ukraine scores gains in Russian-claimed territory

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | October 4, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
In this handout photo released by The State Duma, The Federal Assembly of The Russian Federation Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, foreground center, addresses deputies during a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. Russia's lower house of parliament endorses treaties for 4 regions of Ukraine to join Russia. (The State Duma, The Federal Assembly of The Russian Federation Press Service via AP)

KYIV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian forces scored more gains in their counteroffensive across at least two fronts Monday, advancing in the very areas that Russia is trying to absorb and challenging Moscow's effort to engage fresh troops and its threats to defend incorporated areas by all means.

In their latest breakthrough, Ukrainian forces penetrated Moscow's defenses in the strategic southern Kherson region, one of the four areas in Ukraine that Russia is in the process of annexing.

Kyiv's troops also consolidated gains in the east and other major battlefields, reestablishing Ukrainian control just as Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to overcome problems with manpower, weapons, troop morale and logistics, along with intensifying domestic and international criticism. Putin faces disarray and anger domestically about his partial troop mobilization and confusion about the establishment of new Russian borders.

Ukraine's advances have become so apparent that even Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, who usually focuses on his military's successes and the enemy's losses, was forced to acknowledge it.

"With numerically superior tank units in the direction of Zolota Balka and Oleksandrivka, the enemy managed to forge deep into our defenses," Konashenkov said Monday, referring to two towns in the Kherson region. He coupled that with claims that Russian forces inflicted heavy losses on Ukraine's military.

Ukrainian forces have struggled to retake the Kherson region due to its open terrain, in contrast to their successful breakout offensive in the northeast around the country's second-largest city of Kharkiv that began last month.

Ukraine has pressed its counteroffensive in the Kherson region since the summer, relentlessly pummeling Russian supply lines and making inroads into Russian-held areas west of the Dnieper River. The Ukrainian military has used U.S.-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers to repeatedly hit the main bridge across the Dnieper and a dam that served as a second crossing. It also has struck pontoon bridges that Russia has used to supply its troops.

As the front lines shifted, the political theater in Moscow continued, with Russia's lower house of parliament rubber-stamping annexation treaties for Ukraine's Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions to join Russia. The upper house will follow suit today. This follows annexation "referendums" that the Kremlin orchestrated last week that the U.N. chief and Western nations have said were illegal and fraudulent.

GRINER APPEAL SET

A Russian court on Monday set Oct. 25 as the date for American basketball star Brittney Griner's appeal against her nine-year prison sentence for drug possession.

Griner, an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

The Moscow region court said it will hear her appeal.

Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage, but testified that she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team presented written statements that she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain.

Her February arrest came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At the time, Griner, recognized as one of the greatest players in WNBA history, was returning to Russia, where she played during the U.S. league's offseason.

The nine-year sentence was close to the maximum of 10 years, and Griner's lawyers argued after the conviction that the punishment was excessive. They said in similar cases defendants have received an average sentence of about five years, with about a third of them granted parole.

Before her conviction, the U.S. State Department declared Griner to be "wrongfully detained" -- a charge that Russia has sharply rejected.

OIL DISPUTE CONTINUES

The Supreme Court is siding with a Russian oil company in a dispute with Ukraine worth millions, a win for the company as Russia continues to wage war in Ukraine.

The justices said Monday they would not intervene in a dispute between PAO Tatneft, one of Russia's largest oil companies, and Ukraine. The case will continue in lower U.S. courts which have sided with the company and declined to dismiss the case.

The case the court rejected dates back to the late 1990s and early 2000s and involves Ukraine's largest oil refinery, the Kremenchuk oil refinery, which was destroyed by Russia in April. The refinery was originally half-owned by Ukraine and half-owned jointly by Tatneft and by the oil-rich Russian region of Tatarstan. A dispute between the parties led to arbitration in which Ukraine was ordered in 2014 to pay $112 million plus interest.

Information for this article was contributed by Jon Gambrell, Yuras Karmanau, Vladimir Isachenkov and staff writers of The Associated Press.

  photo  Ukrainian soldiers remove metal structure pieces as they work on a bridge damaged during fighting with Russian troops in Izium, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
 
 
  photo  Locals and army vehicles cross a temporary bridge that replaces a destroyed one nearby, in Izium, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
 
 
  photo  Debris is scattered at the indoor sport pavilion of a destroyed school in Izium, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
 
 
  photo  Ukrainian Olexandra Komarysta cleans the street next to a residential building damaged in a Russian bombing in Saltivka neighbourhood in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
 
 
  photo  Debris hang from a partially destroyed residential building at Saltivka neighbourhood in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
 
 
  photo  Ukrainian soldiers remove metal pieces as they work on a bridge damaged during fighting with Russian troops in Izium, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
 
 
  photo  Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman and head of the United Russia party Dmitry Medvedev speaks during a meeting on science at Gorki state residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. Medvedev deplored the decision by Western nations to rupture scientific ties with Russia over its action in Ukraine.(Ekaterina Shtukina, Sputnik Pool Photo via AP)
 
 
  photo  Ukrainian soldiers remove metal structure pieces as they work on a bridge damaged during fighting with Russian troops in Izium, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
 
 
  photo  Russians lineup to get Kazakhstan's a Personal Identification Number (INN) in a public service center in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. Kazakhstan, together with the ex-Soviet nation of Georgia, comprised two of the most popular destinations for those crossing by land in an effort to avoid the call-up. At least 135,400 Russians have been reported to enter Kazakhstan between Sept. 21 and Sept. 30. (Vladimir Tretyakov/NUR.KZ via AP)
 
 

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