Russia pounds eastern Ukraine and claims ‘US-centric’ world order is over

Kyiv says defences holding as Moscow denies damaging Baltic pipeline and cables

Russia has launched more drone and missile strikes on Ukraine and fresh assaults on its eastern town of Avdiivka, as the Kremlin said US dominance of world affairs was over and denied any role in damaging a gas pipeline and communication cables under the Baltic Sea.

Ukraine said it shot down 14 drones and a missile fired by Russia in the early hours of Monday, and that falling debris caused a fire that was quickly extinguished at a warehouse in the Black Sea port of Odesa.

Russian troops continued to attack the Kyiv-controlled towns of Avdiivka and Mariinka, which are on the outskirts of the occupied eastern city of Donetsk, despite suffering heavy losses in armour and personnel in recent weeks.

“Avdiivka and Mariinka directions [are] particularly intense. Numerous Russian attacks. But our positions are defended… I thank all of you, warriors, for a truly exemplary defence. It instils confidence throughout the country,” said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.


Vitaliy Barabash, head of the administration in Avdiivka, said: “Firefights rage around the clock. The enemy is trying to throw in very large amounts of armour and servicemen. Their losses are insane but it doesn’t stop them at all, new attacks begin all the time.”

“Logistics are very difficult. Twenty-two kilometres [of road] to the city are constantly under fire, day and night. It greatly complicates evacuation and bringing in humanitarian aid. All logistics go along one road. Of course, the enemy is trying to cut it,” he added.

Analysts say Russia has stepped up attacks in eastern Ukraine to prevent Kyiv strengthening its counteroffensive in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, and in a bid to take at least one more sizeable town before Russian presidential elections due next March.

President Vladimir Putin has not declared his candidacy, but his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said recently that Russia’s ruler of 23 years “is undoubtedly the number-one politician and statesman in our country … he has no rivals now and cannot have any”.

The Kremlin on Monday addressed comments from US president Joe Biden that the world’s post-1945 order had “run out of steam” and a new one was needed, giving the US “an opportunity … to unite the world in ways that it never has been”.

Mr Peskov said: “Indeed, the world is in need of a new order, [but one] based on entirely different principles… Mr Biden also said that the United States is capable of building such an order. We disagree with this part of his statement.”

He said Mr Biden had a “US-centric world order in mind… That is, a world that revolves around the United States. This will no longer be the case.”

Mr Peskov also denied any Russian responsibility for damage caused this month to a Baltic gas pipeline and communications cable between Estonia and Finland and a communications cable linking Estonia and Sweden.

Latvian president Edgars Rinkevics said Nato might have to consider closing the Baltic to Russian shipping if Moscow was to blame.

Mr Peskov said: “Any threats to the Russian Federation are unacceptable. I repeat once again: Russia has nothing to do with this.”

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe