All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine.
Russian arrest for espionage
Russian security services said today, Monday, that they had arrested a Russian citizen who previously worked for the US diplomacy in Russia, accusing him of transmitting information about the Ukrainian war to Washington.
In a statement, the FSB alleged that Robert Chunov, a former employee of the US Consulate General in Vladivostok, had collected intelligence since September 2022 regarding the fighting in Ukraine, the “problematic elements” of Russia’s partial mobilization and the “impact” of local protests.
The Russian security services said that he carried out these alleged activities “for a fee” and at the request of the “US Embassy in Moscow”.
According to the Federal Security Service, the Washington-affiliated “informant” is accused of “secret cooperation with a foreign government,” a crime punishable by eight years in prison.
Russia’s Interfax news agency claimed that the Federal Security Service published a video clip in which the suspect made confessions.
Especially since the start of the Ukrainian invasion in February 2022, the Russian authorities have regularly arrested people accused of working for Kiev or spying for Western governments.
Kiev claims to have recaptured a village on the southern front
Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Gana Malyar said on Monday that the Ukrainian army liberated the village of Ropotyn in the Zaporizhia region on Monday.
“Our forces are advancing southeast of Ropotyn and south of Mala Tokmachka,” it said of the two settlements on the southern front.
He added, “The enemy is suffering heavy losses in these directions, but it is trying to concentrate its forces so as not to abandon its positions.”
On the eastern front, Ukrainian forces also advanced south of Bakhmut, which the Russians captured last May, and recaptured a square kilometer in the last week of fighting, the deputy minister said.
In the country’s northeast, Ghana Maliar acknowledged “very heavy” fighting in the Kobyansk sector, where the Russian army has made gains in recent weeks.
The Ukrainian army has been leading a very tough counteroffensive in the east and south since June.
Russian forces spent the winter and spring fortifying their positions with trenches, anti-tank booby traps and minefields hundreds of kilometers long.
A Ukrainian soldier details Russian defenses on the front lines
Ukrainian forces, likely operating in Robotyn, exchanged tactical information about Russian defensive positions.
Citing the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the soldier revealed that there is a system of interconnected Russian trenches, underground bunkers and tunnels, allowing Moscow to move personnel, weapons and ammunition along the front.
The Ukrainian soldier said that anti-tank trenches and minefields stretch across the fields in front of and between these interconnected layers of defensive positions.
They added that all “unmined” areas on the Russian front are heavily mined, while Russian forces have narrow unmined lanes to reach firing positions.
The soldier did not say whether the Ukrainian army had passed through the minefields but indicated that it still had to clear the areas at a gradual pace before advancing further.
The ISW has previously claimed that areas near the next series of Russian defensive positions may be less densely mined to allow its forces to withdraw, although reports of the Ukrainian soldier indicate this may not be the case.
Ukrainian forces are now within striking distance of the next series of Russian defensive positions, which appear to be a relatively more contiguous collection of anti-tank trenches and anti-tank obstacles.
The highly interconnected systems of trenches and bunkers described by the Ukrainian soldier are the result of months of Russian preparations.
Western help could enable Ukrainian elections – Zelensky
Ukraine’s president said on Sunday that nationwide elections could be held amid the conflict if his allies in the West help cover costs, lawmakers agree and residents can vote safely.
Zelensky was responding to comments made by US Senator Lindsey Graham, who during a visit to Kiev praised Ukraine but said it should show it is different from Russia by holding elections.
Martial law, which is due to expire in November, prevents elections from taking place in Ukraine.
The date comes after the usual time in October for parliamentary elections but before the presidential election, which normally takes place in March 2024.