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Ukraine war: Russia claims advances in northeast, Zelenskyy assassination plot, POW exchange

This handout photograph taken and released by Ukrainian Presidential press service on July 29, 2023 shows President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
This handout photograph taken and released by Ukrainian Presidential press service on July 29, 2023 shows President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Copyright HANDOUT / UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP
Copyright HANDOUT / UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP
By Euronews with AP
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All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine.

Russia claims new ground in northeastern Ukraine

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Moscow said on Monday it had advanced 3km towards Kupiansk in northeast Ukraine. 

The area was recaptured by Ukrainian forces last September and has faced a Russian offensive for several weeks.

"Over the past three days, Russian soldiers have made an advance... of more than three kilometres on an 11-kilometre-long stretch of the front," the Russian Defense Ministry said in its daily bulletin.

Kyiv admitted in July it was in a "defensive position" in the Kupyansk region, amid a Russian push in the area. Since then, Moscow has alleged it is nibbling away on the ground.

Kyiv forces began a massive counteroffensive in June to try to retake the eastern and southern territories held by the Russian army.

Progress so far has been limited, with Ukrainian forces coming up against deeply entrenched Russian troops who have had months to build strong lines of defence, made up of trenches, anti-tank booby traps and minefields. 

Ukraine allegedly foils Russian attack on Zelenskyy

Ukraine's security services said Monday they arrested a woman accused of helping Russia plan an attack on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

In a statement, the SBU said it had detained a "Russian secret service informant who was gathering intelligence on the president's planned visit to the Mykolaiv region," close to the front line. 

Moscow then had in view a "massive air attack", it claimed. 

The SBU said the woman, who worked in a store on a military base, "tried to establish the time and the list of places of the provisional itinerary" of Zelenskyy. 

She was arrested while passing information to Russian spies and now faces 12 years behind bars, it said. 

The SBU released a blurred photo of the woman, held by officers, along with phone messages and handwritten notes about military activities.

Zelenskyy said on Telegram that Ukraine's secret services had informed him of this plot and would keep up the "fight against traitors".

Ukraine's President visited the Mykolaiv region in June after the rupture of the Kakhovka dam, which caused the flooding of large parts of southern Ukraine. 

Ukraine secures release of POWs

Ukraine announced on Monday 22 prisoners of war (POW) would be coming home, without specifying whether Russians were also released as part of an exchange.

"They are soldiers of the Armed Forces: two officers, enlisted soldiers and sergeants," said the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration Andri Iermak, in a message published on X, the new name of Twitter.

According to him, there are wounded among the released POWs.

The official did not give any details on the circumstances of their release, but Ukraine and Russia regularly exchange prisoners.

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Kyiv, like Moscow, does not publicly say how many soldiers of the opposite camp they hold, after nearly a year and a half of Russian invasion.

Drone headed for Moscow shot down

Russia said on Monday it had intercepted a Ukrainian drone in the Kaluga region, less than 200 km southwest of Moscow. 

"A drone was shot down by our air defences" overnight, Kaluga region governor Vladislav Chapcha wrote on Telegram. 

No damage or casualties were reported. 

The incident comes amid multiplying attacks on the Russian capital and annexed Crimean Peninsula. 

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On 3 August, Russian authorities claimed they downed seven Ukrainian drones bound for Moscow. 

Last week, Moscow suffered several drone attacks, including one that damaged an office building in the business district, which was targeted twice within days. 

Russia retaliates for Ukrainian attack on tanker

Russia unleashed a torrent of strikes across parts of Ukraine on Sunday, killing at least six people. 

Ukraine's air force said Moscow launched 70 missiles and drones, as it followed through on a promise to retaliate for an attack on a Russian tanker. 

Three waves of missiles, fired from aircraft over the Caspian Sea, rained down on the Starokostiantyniv area, damaging several buildings and igniting a fire at a warehouse, according to Serhiy Tyurin, deputy head of Ukraine’s Khmelnytsky region military administration. 

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The strike may have been intended for the city’s airfield, officials claimed. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the facilities of aircraft engine manufacturer Motor Sich in the Zaporizhzhia region were also attacked. 

Moscow's deadly bombardment followed a Ukrainian drone attack on a Russian tanker in the Black Sea near Crimea late Friday. Ukraine also struck a major Russian port with drones earlier the same day.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned what she called a Ukrainian “terrorist attack” on a civilian vessel. 

“There can be no justification for such barbaric actions, they will not go unanswered and their authors and perpetrators will inevitably be punished,” she posted on the Telegram messaging app.

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