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Ukraine war: Crimea bridge hit, billions for reconstruction, counteroffensive 'will take time'

A Ukrainian MSLR BM-21 "Grad" fires towards Russian positions, near Bakhmut at the frontline in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 21, 2023.
A Ukrainian MSLR BM-21 "Grad" fires towards Russian positions, near Bakhmut at the frontline in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 21, 2023. Copyright Iryna Rybakova/AP
Copyright Iryna Rybakova/AP
By Euronews with AP/AFP
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All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine.

Counteroffensive 'will take time', warns Ukrainian PM


Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal warned on Thursday that the army's counteroffensive wont be quick, though he was "optimistic" it would succeed. 

"We will carry out smart offensive operations, and for this reason it will take time," Chmygal told reporters at a press conference in London.

“The counteroffensive is made up of many military operations - some are offensive, others are defensive,” he explained. “Unfortunately, during our preparation for this counteroffensive, the Russians also prepared."

"There are so many minefields that it slows the progress of the troops a lot."

He added that Ukrainian troops were "fighting according to NATO rules", saying they did not leave "any solider" behind, unlike the Russians who "do not count human lives".

"I am totally optimistic about the liberation of our territories occupied by the Russians," insisted Chmygal. 

Ukraine's big push has encountered stiff Russian resistance, though there have been limited gains. 

Bridge to annexed Crimea hit in Ukrainian strike

A bridge connecting Crimea and ​​southern Ukraine has been damaged by a Ukrainian strike, local Russian authorities said on Thursday.

"There were no casualties," said the Russian governor of the annexed peninsular Sergei Aksionov, adding the damage was being assessed.

The bridge connects Crimea, illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014, to an area of ​​the southern region of Kherson occupied by Russian forces. 

This strike reported by the Russian authorities comes as Ukrainian forces have been conducting offensive actions since early June on several sectors of the front, particularly in southern Ukraine.

Crimea serves as a logistical rear base for the Russian forces deployed in southern Ukraine.

Allies pledge billions for rebuilding Ukraine

Ukraine’s allies pledged several billion dollars in non-military aid on Wednesday to rebuild the country's war-ravaged infrastructure, fight corruption and help pave the country's road to membership in the European Union.

Stressing the vast scale of the task, diplomats and political leaders at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London urged private-sector companies to invest and revive an economy battered by almost 16 months of war.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US would give more than €1.2 billion in new aid, including more than €455 million to restore and improve Ukraine's battered energy grid.


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced €50 billion euros in support through 2027, while Britain pledged €279 million in aid, while Germany announced €381 million euros in humanitarian aid.

The World Bank has estimated the cost of the invaded nation's reconstruction at more than €364 billion, a figure rising daily alongside the human toll of Russia's invasion.

Politicians from Europe and the US vowed Russia would one day be made to pay for the destruction, though officials acknowledged that day is some way off.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who addressed delegates by video, said his country needed action, not just pledges.


“We must move from vision to agreements and from agreements to real projects," he said.

US journalist kept in Russian prison

A Moscow court rejected a request to release Evan Gershkovich on Thursday, confirming his pre-trial detention would be extended until 30 August. 

The US journalist, who wrote for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested at the end of March on espionage charges - something he rejects. 

"We were extremely disappointed by the rejection of his appeal," US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy told reporters after the hearing.


"Despite everything, today in the courtroom, Evan continued to show remarkable strength and resilience in these very difficult circumstances."

'Bravery has no gender': How is the war impacting Ukrainian women?

Women are not "just victims of Russia's war", they have laid down their lives on the battlefield, said one expert.

No one is left unscathed by war. It has catastrophic and at times transformative impacts on both sexes - yet still there are gendered dynamics.

Sexual violence and civilian deaths have become an endemic feature of the Ukraine war, amid gruesome accounts of women being beaten, raped, tortured and executed.


Head of the Center of Civil Liberties Ukraine Oleksandra Matviichuk claimed Russia had “enjoyed” a “circle of impunity” when it came to targeting civilians, citing the devastating war crimes of its troops in Chechnya, Moldova, Georgia, Mali, Syria and Lybia.

But she was quick to not present women “just as victims of Russia’s war”.

“I know a lot of fantastic women who do essential work, who fight for freedom and for our democratic choices. Women document war crimes. They take important political decisions and coordinate huge civil initiatives.”

“Women are at the forefront of this battle because bravery has no gender,” she added.


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