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Ukraine war: 'Hellish' Russian attacks, Moscow extends draft age, Kyiv not using all combat power

A Ukrainian serviceman from the K-2 battalion checks his weapon in a dugout in the Donetsk region, on July 12, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A Ukrainian serviceman from the K-2 battalion checks his weapon in a dugout in the Donetsk region, on July 12, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Copyright ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP or licensors
Copyright ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP or licensors
By Euronews with AP
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All the latest development from the war in Ukraine.

'Hellish' night of Russian attacks in Ukrainian port city

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Ukraine said its forces shot down Russian drones and cruise missiles targeting the Black Sea port of Odesa before dawn on Tuesday. 

Moscow described the strikes as “retribution” for an attack earlier this week that damaged a crucial bridge to the Crimean peninsula.

Russia first tried to wear down Ukraine’s air defences by firing 25 exploding drones and then targeted Odesa with six Kalibr cruise missiles, according to the Ukrainian military’s southern command.

The second night of air attacks on the port city was a "hellish" one with "truly massive strikes", Serhiy Bratchuk, the region's military spokesperson said. 

All missiles and drones were shot down by air defences in the Odesa region and other areas in the south, officials said, though their debris damaged some port facilities and residential buildings. 

An elderly man was injured at his home.

Bratchuk said the details of damage and casualties will be released later. 

The Russian Defence Ministry said its “strike of retribution” was carried out with sea-launched precision weapons. 

It destroyed facilities preparing “terror attacks” against Russia involving maritime drones, including a facility at a shipyard that was producing them, the ministry claimed.  

Images of grain warehouses on fire spooked international markets with the price of wheat shooting up 8% by the end of the trading day. 

Ukraine has unused 'significant combat power' - US

Ukrainian forces have a “significant amount of combat power” that hasn't yet been committed to the war, a top US military official said on Tuesday. 

Speaking to reporters after defence leaders from around the world met to discuss Ukraine's military needs, Army General Mark Milley said Kyiv is conserving some of its tactical efforts, while troops slowly work their way through deadly Russian minefields.

He said Ukraine will decide when to use the combat power and complex training the US and its allies have provided. 

He flatly dismissed suggestions the offensive is failing.

“It is far from a failure, in my view. I think that it's way too early to make that kind of call,” Milley said. “It’s a tough fight."

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Milley and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met with reporters at the close of the 14th meeting of the Ukraine contact group, which is made up of defence and military leaders from more than 50 nations. 

Austin said he asked allies to “continue to dig deep into their military stocks,” particularly for ammunition, which Ukraine urgently needs.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon on Tuesday, July 18, 2023.Manuel Balce Ceneta/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

The officials announced no new military aid, but Washington this month agreed to provide thousands of cluster munitions to Ukraine and included them in a €712.8 million aid package. 

The munitions, which are being taken from Pentagon stocks, began arriving in Ukraine last week. 

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Overall the US has provided more than €35.6 billion in aid to Ukraine.

Russia extends military call-up eligibility

Russian parliament extended the maximum age of eligibility to serve in the military by at least five years on Tuesday. 

The new decision will allow high-ranking officers to be in the army up to the age of 70 instead of 65.

Men who have completed compulsory military service will now be eligible to be drafted up to the age of 40 to 55, depending on the type of service. 

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Russia has constantly rectified its existing military provisions since last September to ramp up new recruitments. 

It has already raised the upper age limit for compulsory military service to 30 from 27, making it hard for men to avoid the draft. 

The Kremlin called up more than 300,000 new soldiers– the biggest of its kind since the second world war – last year as an emergency draft to support its effort on the Ukrainian frontlines. 

Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has previously revealed his plans of increasing the number of professionally contracted military personnel to 1.5 million from 1.15 million.

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Irish PM pledges aid

The Irish Prime Minster Leo Varadkar visited Kyiv for talks with President Zelenskyy on Wednesday. 

Ireland is not helping to finance arms for Ukraine but pledged €5m in humanitarian aid. 

He also promised to investigate how Irish components had ended up in Iranian drones being used in Russian attacks.

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