According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the Kremlin admitted a military defeat for the first time in the Ukraine war. According to the ISW experts, it is striking that the reasons for the defeat in Kharkiv Oblast are currently being discussed. So far, Russia has not admitted direct defeats, but has spoken of “signs of good will” (after withdrawing from Snake Island) or prioritizing the offensive in Donbass (after withdrawing from Kyiv).

At the same time, the Kremlin is looking for a scapegoat for the military disaster in Kharkiv. The ISW experts write that Putin should be absolved of any blame for the defeat. Instead, they try to blame “uninformed military advisers” in Putin’s inner circle.

Kremlin adviser Bogdan Bezpalko has demanded that the heads of military advisers who did not foresee the Ukrainian counter-offensive should be placed on Putin’s desk.

Ukraine is trying to normalize life in the recaptured areas in the east as quickly as possible. “It is very important that with our troops, with our flag, normal life returns to the areas that are no longer occupied,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday evening.

In his video speech, Zelenskyj mentioned as an example that pensions had been paid out for the first time in the liberated city of Balaklija in the Kharkiv region – retrospectively for five months. “During the occupation, we couldn’t make any payments.” Ukraine promised to fulfill its social obligations.

Zelenskyy’s other tasks in the area included searching for scattered Russian soldiers and sabotage groups, and arresting collaborators. Security in the liberated parts of the country must be guaranteed.

News also came from Balaklija that Russian forces are said to have maintained a torture prison in the local police station. During the several months of occupation, around 40 people were locked up in the basement, senior Ukrainian police officer Serhiy Bolvinov reported after an on-site visit.

“The occupiers took away those who served in the military or had relatives there, and also looked for those who helped the army,” wrote the head of the investigative department at the Kharkiv police force on Facebook. According to witnesses, prisoners were tortured with electric shocks. Reporters from the BBC and other foreign media confirmed the information. They also reported corpses found in Balaklija. There were also unverified reports of bodies being found from other places in the region.

Deputy Interior Minister Jenin spoke of 40 suspected cases in the Kharkiv region. “The occupiers were in this area for a long time and of course did everything possible to cover up the traces of their crimes,” he said, according to the ministry. Everything must be done to secure evidence.

The situation at the front is tense but under control, said Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zalushnyi. According to his own statements, he was on the phone with NATO Commander-in-Chief Christopher Cavoli and US Chief of Staff Mark Milley. Saluschnyj thanked for the military support of the USA.

In view of the Ukrainian advance, Russian representatives have recently explored whether negotiations are possible, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanischyna told France24. However, Ukraine does not want to negotiate until it has achieved its military goals. There was no confirmation from Moscow for the alleged offer of talks.

Because of the Ukrainians’ successes, the US government sees a new dynamic in the war. “I think what you’re seeing is certainly a shift, a momentum in Ukraine’s armed forces, particularly in the north,” National Security Council communications director John Kirby said in Washington. The Russians had given up their positions and left material behind. “They call it a repositioning, but it is certain that they have retreated in the face of Ukrainian forces that are clearly on the offensive.” Kirby stressed that Russia remains militarily strong.

Chancellor Scholz spoke to Kremlin chief Putin for about 90 minutes and warned against further attempts to cut off areas of Ukraine. “The Chancellor emphasized that any further Russian annexation steps would not go unanswered and would not be recognized under any circumstances,” said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

The Kremlin’s statement about the phone call did not indicate that Putin would give in. The president drew the chancellor’s attention to the “outrageous violations” by the Ukrainians of international humanitarian law, it said. The Ukrainian army is shelling cities in the Donbass and killing civilians there.

In the dispute over gas supplies, Putin emphasized that Russia is a reliable supplier. However, Western sanctions prevented proper maintenance of the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 1. Not only the federal government considers this justification for the delivery stop to be advanced.

Ukraine has drawn up a concept for international security guarantees after the hoped-for end of the Russian war of aggression. The head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, and former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen presented the paper in Kyiv. Accordingly, the Ukrainian army should be equipped and trained in such a way that the country can ward off a Russian attack at any time.

A group of countries should politically and legally guarantee the security of Ukraine. The following were listed as possible guarantee countries: Germany, the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Poland, Italy, France, Australia, Turkey and the countries of Northern Europe and the Baltic States. Even with the guarantees, Ukraine is still striving to join NATO, it said.

At the moment, the Russian leadership not only has to think about how to make up for the defeat in eastern Ukraine. She also has to deal with the renewed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Achieving a quick end to these fighting is one of the few points on which Russia and other countries currently agree. Diplomatic ceasefire efforts will continue on Wednesday.

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