The Ukrainian military has given an update on its progress in defence against what it views as a renewed Russian invasion. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces specifies that Russian forces are attempting to encircle Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, hoping to gain access to the administrative border areas of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Although Ukraine’s military stated that they have successfully “repelled numerous attacks” around the city, at least six villages in the Donetsk area were reportedly receiving enemy fire. North, south and west of Bakhmut, there have been multiple attempts by Russian forces to break through Ukraine’s defences. Meanwhile in southern Ukraine, the Russian invaders, says the General Staff, have intensified “looting” in some Russian-occupied settlements of Kherson. The report suggests they’re using ammunition delivery trucks to smuggle out household appliances, and other property.
Whilst there is no way of confirming any of Ukraine’s claims, there have been reports that Russia has deployed 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border. There is also an increasing sales trend in Ukraine for bomb shelters and other security equipment, which might indicate a fear among ordinary Ukrainians. The US and NATO have recently sent navy and special forces to the region to help train troops, in line with the conditions set out by last month’s budget deal. Top ranking Ukrainian officials have argued that the country’s defence budget of just under 5% of its GDP is insufficient to fight the Russian military machine. Ukraine is simultaneously trying to negotiate billions of dollars of funding from the IMF to avoid a threatened payment crisis later this year, and this is becoming increasingly tied with US and NATO funding of its military equipment. Just last week President Poroshenko was in Washington to ensure that the West is fully aware of the scale of the Russian invasion of Europe, and to push through a case for additional funding.