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Ukraine war: Kyiv 'liberates' village, night time drone attacks on Moscow, Ukrainian elections

A Ukrainian soldier of the 28th brigade fires a grenade launcher on the frontline during a battle with Russian troops near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, 24 March 2023.
A Ukrainian soldier of the 28th brigade fires a grenade launcher on the frontline during a battle with Russian troops near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, 24 March 2023. Copyright LIBKOS/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright LIBKOS/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AFP
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All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine.

Russian arrested over spying allegations

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The Russian security services (FSB) said on Monday it had detained a Russian citizen, who formerly worked for US diplomacy in Russia, accusing him of relaying information about the Ukraine war to Washington. 

In a statement, the FSB claimed Robert Chonov, an ex-employee of the US Consulate General in Vladivostok gathered intelligence since September 2022, concerning the fighting in Ukraine, "problematic elements" of Russia's partial mobilisation and the "influence" of domestic protests. 

Russia's security services said he carried out these alleged activities "for material remuneration" and at the request of "the American embassy in Moscow".

According to the FSB, the "informant" for Washington is charged with "confidential collaboration with a foreign government", a crime punishable by eight years in prison.

Russia's Interfax news agency claimed the FSB released a video in which the suspect made a confession.

Russian authorities, especially since the start of the Ukraine invasion in February 2022, regularly arrest people accused of working for Kyiv or carrying out espionage for Western governments. 

Kyiv claims it recaptured village on southern front

The Ukrainian army liberated the village of Robotyne in the Zaporizhia region on Monday, Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Maliar said on Monday.

"Our forces are advancing southeast of Robotyne and south of Mala Tokmashka," she said about the two settlements on the southern front. 

"The enemy is suffering huge losses in these directions, but it is trying to concentrate their forces so as not to abandon positions."

On the eastern front, Ukrainian troops also advanced south of Bakhmut - captured in May by the Russians - and regained a square kilometre in the last week of fighting, the deputy minister said.

In the northeast, Ganna Maliar acknowledged "very intense" fighting in the Kupyansk sector, where the Russian military has claimed gains in recent weeks.

The Ukrainian army has been leading a very difficult counter-offensive in the east and south since June.

Russian troops spent the winter and spring fortifying their positions, with trenches, anti-tank booby traps and minefields for hundreds of kilometres. 

Ukrainian soldier details Russian frontline defences

A Ukrainian troop, likely operating in Robotyne, has shared tactical information about Russia's defensive positions.

Cited by the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) the soldier revealed there is a system of interconnected Russian trenches, dugouts and underground tunnels, which allows Moscow to move personnel, weaponry and ammo along the front.

The Ukrainian soldier said anti-tank ditches and minefields stretch across fields in front of and in between these interconnected layers of defensive positions. 

All “unexcavated” areas on the Russian front are heavily mined, while Moscow's forces have narrow unmined paths to reach their firing positions, they added.  

The soldier did not say whether Ukraine's army had passed through the minefields but suggested they still had to demine areas at a gradual pace before advancing further. 

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ISW previously claimed areas near the next series of Russian defensive positions may be less heavily mined to allow its forces to retreat, although the Ukrainian soldier’s reporting suggests 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 array of anti-tank ditches and dragon’s teeth anti-tank obstacles.  

The highly interconnected systems of trenches and dugouts that the Ukrainian soldier described are the result of months of Russian preparation. 

Western help could enable Ukraine election - Zelenskyy

Ukraine's president said on Sunday nationwide elections could take place amid the conflict if its allies in the West helped with costs, lawmakers approved and the population could safely vote.  

Zelenskyy was responding to remarks made by US Senator Lindsey Graham, who during a visit to Kyiv lavished praise on Ukraine but said it should show it is different from Russia by holding elections. 

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Martial law, which is due to expire in November, prevents elections from being held in Ukraine. 

This date is after the normal time in October for parliamentary polls but before presidential elections which are usually held in March 2024.

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