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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Now, It's A Russian Counteroffensive Underway In Ukraine

Russia has deployed more than 100,000 troops in the northeastern regions of Ukraine that were liberated by Kyiv late last year, which appears to come in response to the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

A T-80BVM tank crew of the Russian Western Military District performs a combat task in the direction of Kupyansk.

The northeastern Ukrainian town of Kupyansk was liberated by Kyiv in September. The nearby Lyman was liberated just weeks later. Now, Ukrainian officials report a Russian offensive unfurling in that very direction.

© Russian Defence Ministry/TASS/ZUMA Press Agency
Valentina Romanenko

KYIV — The northeastern Ukrainian town of Kupyansk was liberated by Kyiv in September. The nearby city of Lyman was liberated just weeks later. Now, Ukrainian officials report a Russian offensive unfurling in that very direction, just as Kyiv's own forces are engaged in a counteroffensive in several Russian-occupied regions to the south.

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Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman for the eastern unit of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, confirmed the move on the national 24/7 newscast. "The enemy has gathered a very powerful group of forces – more than 100,000 personnel, over 900 tanks, over 555 artillery systems, and 370 multiple-launch rocket systems – on the Lyman-Kupiansk axis,” Cherevatyi said.

The official offered perspective on the scale of the buildup: Russia deployed 120,000 personnel in Afghanistan at the height of its campaign there in the early 1980s.

Diverting Ukrainian reserves

Top Ukrainian officials say the Russians went on the offensive on the Kupyansk front, where it set itself the goal of defeating the Ukrainian defense forces near the town before continuing the offensive into the depths of the Ukrainian battle formations.

He stressed that Ukrainian soldiers are holding the line.

“[Russia] has consolidated its air assault units, its best motorized infantry units, private military companies [on the Lyman-Kupiansk axis], and has deployed territorial forces as reserves there," Cherevatyi said.

He stressed that Ukrainian soldiers are holding the line and preventing Russian forces from taking the initiative in the area.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) noted that by intensifying operations on the Kupyansk front, the Russians are attempting to divert Ukrainian reserves away from crucial areas, such as Bakhmut, where Kyiv is currently conducting its counteroffensive. The experts believe that the Russian forces will not be able to make an operationally significant breakthrough.

Servicemen of Russia's Western Military District load a shell into a Grad multiple rocket launcher .

Soldiers of Russia's Western Military District load a shell into a Grad multiple rocket launcher .

© Russian Defence Ministry/TASS via ZUMA

Complicated but under control

“All commanders understand the importance of the assigned tasks regarding the destruction of the enemy, the continuation of offensive actions, and the retention of the operational initiative on our side,” Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said. “We continue to move forward, liberating our land step by step."

According to him, the situation is “complicated but under control”. "Under the difficult circumstances, I visited the combat brigades of our group and met with unit commanders to adjust our plans and solve problematic issues on the spot,” Syrskyi said. “Separately, I worked with the commanders and made all the necessary decisions to stabilize the situation on the Lyman front.”

On Telegram, he wrote that the Ukrainian army is advancing elsewhere on the eastern front and that the Russians are forced to transfer its reserves to the Bakhmut area, trying to stop the Ukrainian advance there.

"We continue to fight. We will win," the commander of the Ground Forces emphasized.

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Flexing Against Sexism: Meet The Women Bodybuilders Of Nepal

Women bodybuilders are rare in a society that prefers them thin, soft — and fully clothed. But with sports, gold-medal winners like Rajani Shrestha are helping inspire change.

Photograoph of four female bodybuilders holding their country's flags on stage.

Judges and attendees observe the 55th Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship in Kathmandu

Yam Kumari Kandel/GPJ NEPAL
Yam Kumari Kandel

KATHMANDU — Rajani Shrestha exercises at a gym near Baneshwor Height, a neighborhood in Kathmandu, as she prepares for a major bodybuilding championship. As the 42-year-old lifts around 50 kilograms (110 pounds) in a deadlift, her veiny arms and neck muscles bulge out. A woman with “muscles like a man,” she says, is a very rare sight here.

The men bodybuilders in the club stare at her. “I don’t care what anyone says or does. I must win the competition anyway,” Shrestha says. As the day progresses, she is the only one left in the club. For Shrestha, there is no time to waste. On this August weekday, it’s only a month to go till the 55th Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship.

In 2019, Shrestha won silver medals at the 12th South Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship, held in Kathmandu, and the 53rd Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship, in Batam, Indonesia. The National Sports Council also recognized her for excellence.

Shrestha does not fit the normative definition of an ideal woman in Nepal. In a society where a thin body is considered beautiful, women bodybuilders with brawny bodies are labeled “men” and are often the target of ridicule and derision.

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