Ukraine war live updates: Time could be running out for Ukrainian forces in besieged Bakhmut; Russia turns to ‘vintage’ tanks

Most of Ukraine’s winter grain crops in good condition, scientists say

KHMELNYTSKYI, UKRAINE – AUGUST 05: A combine harvesters of Astarta-Kyiv agri-industrial holding harvests wheat on August 5, 2022 in the Khmelnytskyi region of Ukraine. In normal times, Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, but the Russian invasion and naval blockade has trapped millions of metric tons of grains here, raising fears of a global food crisis. On Monday, a ship full of corn was the first such vessel to leave Ukraine’s southern port of Odessa following a deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, to ensure the safe passage of grain to foreign ports. (Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

Alexey Furman | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Most of Ukraine’s winter grain crops – winter wheat and barley – are in good condition and could produce a good harvest, Ukraine’s academy of agricultural science was quoted as saying on Monday.

“The analysis of the viability of winter wheat … showed that the vast majority of plants – 92% to 97%, depending on the predecessor and sowing date – were in relatively good condition,” the APK-Inform consultancy quoted a report by the academy as saying, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine is a traditional grower of winter wheat which accounts for around 95% of the country’s overall wheat output, and key for both local consumption and exports.

“There are good reasons to make preliminary forecasts for the formation of yields that will be close to the average long-term average,” the report said.

The scientists say the reserves of productive moisture in the soil under winter crops remained “quite significant and did not cause concern”. The winter wheat area sown for the 2023 harvest decreased to around 4.1 million hectares from more than 6 million sown a year earlier because of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year.

Of the winter wheat sown last year, only 4.9 million hectares were harvested in Ukrainian-controlled territory, as Russian forces occupied some areas. Ukraine’s wheat harvest declined to 20.2 million tonnes in 2022 from 32.2 million tonnes in 2021. Overall grain output fell to around 54 million tonnes from a record 86 million in 2021.

A top agriculture ministry official told Reuters on Thursday that the 2023 wheat crop could total 16 to 18 million tonnes but Ukraine saw no need to limit wheat exports for the upcoming 2023/24 July-June season.

— Reuters

Russia turning to ‘vintage’ battle tanks and other vehicles to make up for losses

This photograph taken on Oct. 7, 2022, shows an abandoned Russian T-62 tank south of the village of Novovorontsovka, in a part of Southern Ukraine.

Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | Getty Images

The Russian military has continued to respond to heavy armored vehicle losses by deploying 60-year-old T-62 main battle tanks, according to the latest intelligence update from Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

“There is a realistic possibility that even units of the 1st Guards Tank Army, supposedly Russia’s premier tank force, will be re-equipped with T-62s to make up for previous losses,” the ministry said on Twitter Monday.

It added that the 1st Guards Tank Army had previously been due to receive the next-generation T-14 Armata main battle tank from 2021.

“In recent days, Russian BTR-50 armoured personnel carriers, first fielded in 1954, have also been identified deployed in Ukraine for the first time” and noted that, since summer 2022, approximately 800 T-62s have been taken out of storage. Some have received upgraded sighting systems which will highly likely improve their effectiveness at night, the ministry noted.

“However, both these vintage vehicle types will present many vulnerabilities on the modern battlefield, including the absence of modern explosive reactive armour,” the U.K. said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Status of besieged Bakhmut unknown as ‘tactical withdrawal’ could be taking place

Ukrainian infantrymen with the 28th Brigade view damaged buildings while driving to a frontline position facing Russian troops on March 05, 2023 outside of Bakhmut, Ukraine.

John Moore | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The status of Bakhmut is unclear after conflicting reports at the weekend over how much of the city was controlled by Russian forces, and whether Ukrainain forces were starting to withdraw from parts of the city.

Volodymyr Nazarenko, a commander of Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut, said on Telegram Sunday that there were “no decisions or orders regarding retreat” and that “the defense is holding” in the city but also characterized the situation in Bakhmut and its outskirts as “very much like hell, as it is on the entire eastern front.”

But analysts at the Institute for the Study of War think tank said Sunday that Ukrainian forces appear to be conducting a “limited tactical withdrawal” in Bakhmut, although they noted that “it is still too early to assess Ukrainian intentions concerning a complete withdrawal from the city.”

The ISW said Ukrainian forces may be withdrawing from their positions on the eastern bank of the Bakhmutka River that dissects the city’s eastern flank. But it added that while Russian sources claim their forces have captured eastern, northern, and southern parts of Bakhmut, and claim to be reporting from positions in eastern Bakhmut, it could not independently verify those claims.

The think tank noted, in any case, that it believes the “Ukrainian defense of Bakhmut remains strategically sound as it continues to consume Russian manpower and equipment as long as Ukrainian forces do not suffer excessive casualties.”

“Ukrainian forces are unlikely to withdraw from Bakhmut all at once and may pursue a gradual fighting withdrawal to exhaust Russian forces through continued urban warfare,” the ISW added.

Last Friday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s mercenary force the Wagner Group, claimed his fighters had “practically surrounded Bakhmut” but also called for more ammunition for his units, saying “if Wagner retreats from Bakhmut now, the whole front will collapse,” signalling Wagner was experiencing more tensions with Russia’s defense ministry following criticism of defense officials by Prigozhin.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian troop withdrawal is the basis for peace talks, German chancellor says

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivers a speech in front of a Leopard 2 tank during a visit to a military base of the German army Bundeswehr in Bergen, Germany, Oct. 17, 2022.

Fabian Bimmer | Reuters

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Sunday that a complete Russian withdrawal from Ukraine would be the foundation needed for any future peace talks.

“To my view, it is necessary that Putin understands that he will not succeed with his invasion and his imperialistic aggression and that he has to withdraw troops. This is the basis for talks,” Scholz said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that aired Sunday.

“There will be no decisions without the Ukrainians,” Scholz added.

Acknowledging that the war in Ukraine appears to have settled into a period of stalemate, with Russian forces seeing some gains in the Donbas in the east of the country, Scholz said that it was still “very difficult to judge what will be the next things to happen in Ukraine.”

“But there is something which is absolutely clear: We will continue to support Ukraine with financial, humanitarian aid but also with weapons,” he said.

Scholz, like U.S. President Joe Biden, has said Germany will support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” but Berlin has been criticized for procrastinating over giving Kyiv weapons, particularly the Leopard 2 tanks that it had asked for for months.

Berlin finally agreed to sending Kyiv tanks in January and allowed other countries with German-made tanks to do the same but it ruled out sending fighter jets to the country.

— Holly Ellyatt

Source link

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles