Zelenskyy says conditions in Donbas are ‘indescribably difficult’; Russian forces target


Ukrainian forces say 7 Russian attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk have been repulsed in the past 24 hours

Pro-Russian separatist forces are seen in the Donetsk Oblast in eastern Ukraine on May 28, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine’s armed forces said in an operational update that seven Russian attacks have been repulsed in Donetsk and Luhansk in the past 24 hours.

In a Facebook post, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also accused Russian authorities in Crimea of ordering hospitals to refuse civilian patients in order to free up beds for Russian troops.

“The enemy continues to suffer losses. In particular, sanitary, which necessitates the creation of additional opportunities for medical care. Thus, in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the occupation administration ordered to stop accepting civilians in order to vacate the beds for the wounded. Donor blood is being collected intensively,” Ukraine’s armed forces said in a statement.

“For the past 24hrs, seven [Russian] enemy attacks have been repulsed in Donetsk and Luhansk only, one tank and six enemy vehicles have been destroyed. Air defense units destroyed Orlan-10 UAVs. [Russian] enemy has losses in other areas,” they added.

— Sam Meredith

Russia prepared to leverage global food security for its own political aim, UK says

Russia has demonstrated it is prepared to leverage global food security for its own political aim and then present itself as the reasonable actor and blame the West for failure, according to the latest intelligence update from the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence.

“On 25 May, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Andrei Rudenko, said Russia is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food through the Black Sea in return for the lifting of sanctions. The minister also requested Ukraine de-mine the area around the port of Odesa to allow the passage of ships,” the ministry said via Twitter.

“Rudenko’s request for Ukraine to de-mine follows a core tenet of modern Russian messaging strategy: introducing alternative narratives, however unconvincing, to complicate audiences’ understanding. In this instance, Ukraine has only deployed maritime mines because of the continued credible threat of Russian amphibious assaults from the Black Sea.”

— Sam Meredith

Putin is inflicting ‘unspeakable suffering’ on Ukrainians in a bid to capture Severodonetsk, think tank says

A man walks in front of a destroyed school in the city of Bakhmut, in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on May 28, 2022.

Aris Messinis | Afp | Getty Images

The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, says Russia’s onslaught in Ukraine has become a “desperate and bloody offensive” to capture the eastern city of Severodonetsk while defending significant but limited gains in the south and east.

In its latest daily assessment of the war, analysts at ISW said Russian President Vladimir Putin “is inflicting unspeakable suffering on Ukrainians and demanding horrible sacrifices of his own people in an effort to seize a city that does not merit the cost, even for him.”

“The Ukrainian military is facing the most serious challenge it has encountered since the isolation of the Azovstal Plant in Mariupol and may well suffer a significant tactical defeat in the coming days if Severodonetsk falls, although such an outcome is by no means certain, and the Russian attacks may well stall again,” analysts at ISW said.

Russia’s embassy in London was not immediately available to comment.

— Sam Meredith

Zelenskyy says conditions in Donbas are ‘indescribably difficult’

Zelenskyy has thanked Ukrainian forces for holding out in the face of Russia’s onslaught in the Donbas.

Fabrice Coffrini | Afp | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the situation in the Donbas region is “indescribably difficult” as Russian forces continue to target the area, and thanked Ukrainian forces for withstanding Russia’s onslaught.

The Donbas refers to two eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk — a major strategic, political and economic target for the Kremlin.

“The situation is very complicated. Especially in those areas in the Donbas and Kharkiv region where the Russian army is trying to squeeze at least some result for themselves,” Zelenskyy said.

“The key areas of fighting on the frontline are still Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Bakhmut, Popasna and other cities where the Russian offensive is focused. But our defenses are holding up. It’s indescribably difficult there. And I am grateful to all those who withstood this onslaught of the occupiers,” he added.

— Sam Meredith

Russia pummels eastern towns in bid to encircle Ukraine forces

This photograph shows a railway wagon and sleepers burning after a shelling near the Lyman station in Lyman, eastern Ukraine, on April 28, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

Russian forces stepped up their assault on the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk on Saturday after claiming to have captured the nearby rail hub of Lyman, as Kyiv intensified its calls for longer-range weaponry from the West to help it fight back in the Donbas region.

Slow, solid Russian gains in recent days point to a subtle momentum shift in the war, now in its fourth month. The invading forces appear close to seizing all of the Luhansk region of Donbas, one of the more modest war goals the Kremlin set after abandoning its assault on Kyiv in the face of Ukrainian resistance.

Russia’s defense ministry said on Saturday its troops and allied separatist forces were now in full control of Lyman, the site of a railway junction west of the Siverskyi Donets River in the Donetsk region that neighbors Luhansk.

However, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Malyar, said the battle for Lyman continued, the ZN.ua website reported.

Sievierodonetsk, some 60 km (40 miles) from Lyman on the eastern side of the river and the largest Donbas city still held by Ukraine, was under heavy assault from the Russians.

“Sievierodonetsk is under constant enemy fire,” Ukrainian police posted on social media on Saturday.

Russian artillery was also shelling the Lysychansk-Bakhmut road, which Russia must take to close a pincer movement and encircle Ukrainian forces.

“There was significant destruction in Lysychansk,” the police said.

Reuters

Putin says Kyiv is to blame for stalled talks in call with Macron, Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron attend a news conference ahead of a Weimar Triangle meeting to discuss the ongoing Ukraine crisis, in Berlin, Germany, February 8, 2022.

Hannibal Hanschke | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a call with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The group discussed stalled negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, with the Kremlin saying Kyiv was to blame for the current impasse. Putin “confirmed the openness of the Russian side to the resumption of dialogue,” Russia said in a read-out following the 80-minute call.

Scholz and Macron called on Putin “to engage in serious direct negotiations with the President of Ukraine and to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict,” according to a read-out from the German Federal Government.

Putin also said the West delivering weapons to Ukraine could risk “further destabilization of the situation and the aggravation of the humanitarian crisis.”

— Jessica Bursztynsky

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