Russian troops may make further territorial gains but tempo is likely to be slow without a “significant operational pause” to reorganize, the British Defense Ministry said in its daily assessment of the war.

The Kremline faces a dilemma between deploying reserves to the Donbas or defending against Ukrainian counterattacks in the south Kherson sector, the assessment said.

“Russia has struggled to sustain effective offensive combat power since the start of the invasion,” the assessment said. “This problem is likely becoming increasingly acute.”

The Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson could soon open the “next chapter” in the war with a major Ukraine counter-offensive operation, experts told the Kyiv Independent. Russia claims Kherson is “full-fledged Russian territory” and is planning a referendum aimed at annexing the region. But President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the military to establish a plan to challenge Russia’s occupation in the south, an area vital to the national economy.

Russia, meanwhile, has  committed large numbers of troops and equipment toward claiming the eastern Donbas region.

“Russians are not capable of completely securing the whole duration of the giant frontline in Kherson,” Kirill Mikhailov of the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), an investigative project, told the Independent. “Nor is Russia capable of sending quick reinforcements to the area, as they would have to drastically reduce or even abandon their offensive in Donbas.”

Latest developments:

►The Russian invasion has killed at least 353 children and injured another 676, the Ukraine government reported.

►Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shared some “great news” and promised details would be released soon.

►Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said four Russian strikes blasted the city of Kramatorsk, and he urged the more than 150,000 residents to evacuate.

►Ukraine high jumper Andriy Protsenko won the bronze medal at the World Athletics Championships on Monday in Eugene, Ore.

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US rockets systems help Ukraine stabilize conditions on the ground

After weeks of Russian gains, Ukraine troops have succeeded in stabilizing their position on battlefields across the war-battered nation, the commander of the armed forces says.

Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi said in a Telegram post that he told U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, “an important factor contributing to our retention of defensive lines and positions” was the arrival of U.S. High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. HIMARS are being used for targeted strikes on Russian control points, ammunition and fuel storage depots, Zaluzhnyi said.

“It is difficult, tense, but completely under control,” Zaluzhnyi said of the now almost 5-month-long war.

Putin in Tehran for talks with Iran, Turkey

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Tehran on Tuesday for talks with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A U.N.-backed proposal to resume exports of Ukrainian grain to ease the global food crisis isn’t the only item on the agenda. In recent weeks, Russian officials made multiple visits to an airfield in central Iran to review Tehran’s weapons-capable drones for possible use in Ukraine, the White House claims.

Turkey, a NATO member, has clashed with Russia in Azerbaijan, Libya and Syria and has sold lethal drones to Ukraine. But Turkey, grappling with runaway inflation, hasn’t imposed sanctions on the Kremlin, making it a sorely needed partner for Moscow.

US says war has isolated Russia; Russia says that is ‘wishful thinking’

U.S. claims that Russia is facing global isolation because of the war are “wishful thinking,” the Russian Embassy in the United States said in a statement. The Russian leadership is in constant contact with leaders of most countries, the statement said.

“Even in the West, they are increasingly talking about the lack of alternatives to dialogue with Russia in global problems solving,” the statement said.

The statement was issued following a State Department briefing in which spokesman Ned Price said that “regardless of what we might hear from the Kremlin, the fact is that Russia has been economically, politically, diplomatically, financially isolated from the rest of the world.”

Ukraine first lady Olena Zelenska to address Congress

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska will deliver remarks to Congress on Wednesday as she presses her husband’s campaign for more military support from the West. Zelenska met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Blinken emphasized the U.S. commitment to support Ukraine and reiterated the U.S. resolve to helping the people of Ukraine recover and rebuild from the devastation.

“The secretary strongly condemned Russia’s brutal attacks, which continue to wound and kill innocent civilians and destroy homes, hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure,” Price said.

Zelenskyy suspends dozens more officials pending treason probe

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expanded the shakeup of his security services by suspending 28 more officials. Earlier this week Zelenskyy suspended his prosecutor general and his security services chief, saying their agencies harbored too many “collaborators and traitors.”

“Different levels, different directions,” Zelenskyy said of the latest suspensions. “But the grounds are similar – unsatisfactory job performance.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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