Russia Ukraine War, Mariupol Fall to Russia: Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday that the Ukrainian town of Lyman had fallen under the full control of Russian and Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine, news agency Reuters reported. The claim comes a day after pro-Russian separatists from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said they had fully captured the town, a railway hub west of Sievierodonetsk.
A ship has entered the Ukrainian port of Mariupol for the first time since Russia completed its capture of the city to load metal and ship it east to Russia, TASS news agency reported Saturday, in a move that Kyiv decried as looting. A spokesperson for the port told TASS that the vessel would be loading 2,700 tonnes of metal before travelling 160 km east to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Monday.
Russia successfully test-fired a hypersonic Zircon cruise missile over a distance of about 1,000 km, the defence ministry said Saturday. The missile was fired from the Barents Sea and hit a target in the White Sea, it said. Video released by the ministry showed the missile being fired from a ship and blazing into the sky on a steep trajectory.
However, breaking with the party line in a rare show of opposition to his country’s war in Ukraine, a Communist Party legislative deputy in Russia’s Far East demanded an end to the military operation and withdrawal of Russian forces. “We understand that if our country doesn’t stop the military operation, we’ll have more orphans in our country,” the deputy said at a meeting of Russia’s Primorsk regional Legislative Assembly.
Hundreds of Lithuanians are clubbing together to buy an advanced military drone for Ukraine in its war against Russia, in a show of solidarity with a fellow country formerly under Moscow’s rule. Some 4.4 million euros ($4.1 million) have been raised in just three days – out of the 5 million euros needed – largely in small amounts, according to Laisves TV, a Lithuanian internet broadcaster that launched the drive.
“Before this war started, none of us thought that we would be buying guns. But it’s a normal thing now. Something must be done for the world to get better,” said Agne Belickaite, 32, who sent 100 euros as soon as the fundraising launched on Wednesday.
“I’ve been donating to buy guns for Ukraine for a while now. And will do so until the victory,” she told Reuters, adding she was motivated in part by fears Russia could attack Lithuania. (Reuters)
- French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday to release the 2,500 Ukrainian defenders of the Azovstal steel plant detained by Russian forces, the Elysee palace said.
- Russian forces were assaulting the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk on Saturday after saying they had captured the nearby rail hub of Lyman.
- Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was prevented from leaving Ukraine to take part in a meeting of a NATO body in Lithuania, his party’s parliamentary faction said on Saturday.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday he’s confident Turkey’s objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO can be overcome swiftly, possibly in time for a summit of alliance leaders at the end of next month.
- A branch of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church that remained loyal to Moscow after a 2019 schism has said it will break with the Russian church over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Saturday.
- Russia successfully test-fired a hypersonic Zircon cruise missile over a distance of about 1,000 km (625 miles), the defence ministry said on Saturday.
- Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday that the Ukrainian town of Lyman had fallen under the full control of Russian and Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday to release the 2,500 Ukrainian defenders of the Azovstal steel plant detained by Russian forces, the Elysee palace said. The two European leaders, in a joint call, also urged Putin to accept a direct exchange with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the palace said.
Russia said this month that almost 2,000 Ukrainians had surrendered after making a last stand in the ruins of Mariupol, where they had held out for weeks in bunkers and tunnels beneath the vast Azovstal steelworks.
Macron and Scholz also insisted on the urgency of lifting the Russian blockade of the port of Odesa to allow Ukrainian grain exports, the palace said. The Kremlin said Putin told Macron and Scholz in the call that Russia was willing to discuss ways to make it possible for Ukraine to resume shipments of grain from Black Sea ports. (Reuters)
Russian forces were assaulting the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk on Saturday after saying they had captured the nearby rail hub of Lyman as Moscow pressed its offensive in the eastern Donbas. Russian gains in recent days indicate a shift in momentum in the war, now in its fourth month. The invading forces appear close to seizing all of the Luhansk region of Donbas, a main Kremlin war goal, despite Ukrainian resistance.
Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday its troops and allied separatist forces were now in full control of Lyman, site of a railway junction and lying west of the Siversky Donets River in the Donetsk region that neighbours Luhansk.
However Hanna Malyar, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, said the battle for Lyman continued, the ZN.ua website reported. The Russian forces were likely to try to cross the river in coming days in the next phase of the Kremlin’s Donbas offensive, the British defence ministry said in its daily intelligence report on Saturday.
Sievierodonetsk, some 60 km (40 miles) from Lyman on the eastern side of the river and the largest Donbas city still held by Ukraine, is now under heavy assault from the Russians. “Sievierodonetsk is under constant enemy fire,” Ukraine’s police force said in a social media post on Saturday. (Reuters)
Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was prevented from leaving Ukraine to take part in a meeting of a NATO body in Lithuania, his party’s parliamentary faction said on Saturday.
Poroshenko was stopped twice at a border crossing with Poland while he was on his way to the meeting of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly, a consultative interparliamentary organisation, the statement said.
Ukrainian media reported Poroshenko could not cross the border due to “technical problems” with a permit allowing him to leave the country. “Poroshenko had received all the formal permissions to leave the country and had been included … in the official delegation of the Parliament of Ukraine for this event,” his European Solidarity parliamentary faction said. (Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin told the leaders of France and Germany in a phone call on Saturday that Russia was willing to discuss ways to make it possible for Ukraine to export grain from Black Sea ports, the Kremlin said. (Reuters)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday he’s confident Turkey’s objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO can be overcome swiftly, possibly in time for a summit of alliance leaders at the end of next month.
At a news conference in Washington with visiting Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, Blinken said the US has no reason to believe Turkey’s concerns cannot be addressed. His comments came after Turkey’s top diplomat said Finland and Sweden would have to take “concrete steps” before Ankara could support their membership.
“The United States fully supports Finland and Sweden joining the alliance and I continue to be confident that both will soon be NATO members,” Blinken said. “We look forward to being able to call Finland and Sweden our allies.” Haavisto said his country and Sweden had held “good negotiations” with the Turks over their concerns in recent days and said those discussions would continue with an eye toward resolving them before the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June. (AP/Matthew Lee)
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday said that he had a phone conversation with UK prime minister Boris Johnson. In a tweet, Zelenskyy said they spoke about “strengthening defence for Ukraine, intensifying work on security guarantees, supplying fuel to Ukraine”.
“We must work together to prevent a food crisis and unblock Ukraine’s ports,” he added.
As part of the regular dialogue, I had another phone conversation with @BorisJohnson. We talked about strengthening defense support for 🇺🇦, intensifying work on security guarantees, supplying fuel to Ukraine. We must work together to prevent a food crisis and unblock 🇺🇦 ports.
A branch of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church that remained loyal to Moscow after a 2019 schism has said it will break with the Russian church over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine was given permission by the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians worldwide to form a church independent of Moscow in 2019, largely ending centuries of religious ties between the two countries. However many parishes, especially in Ukraine’s east, elected to remain loyal under the umbrella of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate.
Following a meeting of of its leadership the church announced that it would declare its “full independence” from Russia. “The council has approved the corresponding additions and changes to the Statute on the Management of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, indicating the full autonomy and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” it said in a statement late on Friday. (Reuters)
Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Saturday, saying the arms would bolster forces fighting Russia’s invasion.
“The coastal defence of our country will not only be strengthened by Harpoon missiles – they will be used by trained Ukrainian teams,” Reznikov wrote on his Facebook page.
He said Harpoon shore-to-ship missiles would be operated alongside Ukrainian Neptune missiles in the defence of the country’s coast including the southern port of Odesa. After launching its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russia imposed a naval blockade of Ukrainian ports, hampering vital grain exports.
It has also used its Black Sea fleet to launch missile attacks against Ukraine, which has since started receiving Western military aid. Reznikov said the supplies of Harpoon missiles were the result of cooperation between several countries, saying the deliveries from Denmark took place “with the participation of our British friends”. (Reuters)
Russia successfully test-fired a hypersonic Zircon cruise missile over a distance of about 1,000 km (625 miles), the defence ministry said on Saturday. The missile was fired from the Barents Sea and hit a target in the White Sea, it said. Video released by the ministry showed the missile being fired from a ship and blazing into the sky on a steep trajectory.
President Vladimir Putin has described the Zircon as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems. Hypersonic weapons can travel at nine times the speed of sound, and Russia has conducted previous test-launches of the Zircon from warships and submarines in the past year. (Reuters)
Russia’s military has suffered heavy losses of men and equipment during its three-month invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a “special operation”, but it has continued to stage high-profile weapons tests to remind the world of its prowess in missile technology. (Reuters)
Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday that the Ukrainian town of Lyman had fallen under the full control of Russian and Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine. The claim comes a day after pro-Russian separatists from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said they had fully captured the town, a railway hub west of Sievierodonetsk.
Ukraine said on Friday that Russia had captured most of Lyman but that its forces were blocking an advance to Sloviansk, a city a half-hour drive further southwest. Ukrainian and Russian forces had been fighting for Lyman for several days. (Reuters)
A ship has entered the Ukrainian port of Mariupol for the first time since Russia completed its capture of the city to load metal and ship it east to Russia, TASS news agency reported Saturday, in a move that Kyiv decried as looting.
The first ship called at the seaport of Mariupol since the #Russia–#Ukraine conflict began in February, TASS reported on Saturday citing a representative of the port. pic.twitter.com/4UJUu2JlMe
A spokesperson for the port told TASS that the vessel would be loading 2,700 tonnes of metal before travelling 160 km east to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Monday. The spokesperson did not say where the metal being shipped had been produced.
Ukraine’s Human Rights Ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova said the shipment amounted to looting by Russia. “Looting in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine continues,” she wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “Following the theft of Ukrainian grain, the occupiers resorted to exporting metal products from Mariupol.” (Reuters)
As much as 8 billion rubles (about Rs 1,000 crore) of dividend income belonging to Indian oil firms is stuck in Russia after the Putin administration clamped down on dollar repatriation, officials said.
Indian state oil firms have invested $5.46 billion in buying stakes in four different assets in Russia. These include a 49.9 per cent stake in Vankorneft oil and gas field and another 29.9 per cent in TAAS-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha fields. They get dividends on profits made by the operating consortium from selling oil and gas produced from the fields.
Thanks Hon PM & the Cabinet for approving acquisition of 29.9% stake in LLC Taas-Yuryakh & 23.9%t stake in Vankorneft by Indian Consortium. pic.twitter.com/Ng8DwJCAa7
“We had been regularly getting our dividend income from the projects but since the war in Ukraine led to volatility in foreign exchange rates, the Russian government has put restrictions on repatriation of dollars from that country,” said Harish Madhav, Director (Finance), Oil India Ltd, which is one of the partners in the fields. (PTI)
Russian gas producer Gazprom said Saturday its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point stood at 43.96 million cubic metres (mcm), slightly up from 43.6 mcm on Friday.
An application to supply gas via another major entry point, Sokhranovka, was rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said. (Reuters)
Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said while Russian forces had begun direct assaults on built-up areas of Sievierodonetsk, they would likely struggle to take ground in the city itself.
“Russian forces have performed poorly in operations in built-up urban terrain throughout the war,” they said.
#Russian forces began direct assaults on built-up areas of #Severodonetsk without having fully encircled the city and will likely struggle to take ground in the city itself.
Russian troops advanced after piercing Ukrainian lines last week in the city of Popasna, south of Sievierodonetsk. Russia’s eastern gains follow the withdrawal of its forces from approaches to the capital, Kyiv, and a Ukrainian counter-offensive that pushed its forces back from Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv. (Reuters)
Is the war in Ukraine entering a new and, perhaps, even more dangerous phase? The answer to this question depends on seeing Ukraine as a two-front war. There is the battle being fought in Ukraine, where the country has admirably held back Russian power, and cut it to size. But it is still not clear what the endgame of this struggle is going to be. It is not very likely that Ukraine will be able to enforce all its territorial claims. Nor is it likely that Russia will want to simply walk away from this war under a narrative of total defeat.
How much territory in Ukraine will Russia want to hold on to so that the war does not count as a complete political disaster for Vladimir Putin is an open question. What means it is willing to deploy to devastate Ukraine is also an open question. In many ways, Ukraine has suffered immense devastation already, with more than 10 million people displaced and the country’s infrastructure destroyed. It has found immense reservoirs of national resolve, and support from the West. But whether that will be enough to achieve its objectives is not clear. The risk of Ukraine overplaying its immense success is real. There could be a protracted stalemate, but one that will continue to impose immense humanitarian costs on Ukraine. Putin could escalate, not for purposes of winning but to inflict punishment. (Read more)
The governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, said early on Saturday that there are some 10,000 Russian troops in the eastern region.
“These are the (units) that are permanently in Luhansk region, that are trying to assault and are attempting to make gains in any direction they can,” Gaidai said on Ukrainian television. (Reuters)
Former President Donald Trump said if the US could donate money to Ukraine, it should be able to improve the security of its own schools.
“This is not a matter of money. This is a matter of will. If the United States has $40 billion to send to Ukraine, we can do this,” he told a meeting of the National Rifle Association. There was large bipartisan support for the nearly $40 billion in military aid the US Congress approved earlier this month, but Trump said the money would have been better spent at home.
Donald Trump says that, if the United States could send $40 Billion to Ukraine with no questions asked, “they can do whatever it takes to keep our children safe.” https://t.co/bd0BIGDAOG
“This is not a matter of money, this is a matter of will,” Trump also said. pic.twitter.com/JwUGbB1huU
“Before we nation-build the rest of the world, we should be building safe schools for our own children in our own nation,” Trump told a crowd just days after a school shooting in the Texan city of Uvalde. He also claimed the war in Ukraine would have never happened if he was still president.
“What did they have left, with all the shooting, all the rockets, every city is being levelled, what are they going to have, there is no win here for anybody,” he said. (Deutsche Welle)
Russian forces have likely captured most of the town on Lyman in the north of Donetsk, said the UK intelligence agency in its daily update.
Lyman is strategically important because it is the site of a major railway junction, and also gives access to important rail and road bridges over the Siverskyy Donets River, said the British Defence Intelligence department.
Moscow pressed the West on Thursday to lift sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, seeking to shift the blame for a growing food crisis that has been worsened by Kyiv’s inability to ship millions of tons of grain and other agricultural products due to the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin told Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Moscow “is ready to make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis through the export of grain and fertilizer on the condition that politically motivated restrictions imposed by the West are lifted,” according to a Kremlin readout of the call.
Russian forces on Wednesday pounded Ukrainian-held twin cities in the Donbas region that is now the focus of the three-month war, threatening to shut off the last main escape route for civilians trapped in the path of their advance.
After failing to seize Ukraine’s capital Kyiv or its second city Kharkiv, Russia is trying to take full control of the Donbas, comprised of two eastern provinces Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.
Russia has poured thousands of troops into the region, attacking from three sides in an attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces holding out in the city of Sievierodonetsk and its twin Lysychansk. Their fall would leave the whole of Luhansk province under Russian control, a key Kremlin war aim.
Police in Lysychansk are collecting bodies of people killed in order to bury them in mass graves, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said. Some 150 people have been buried in a mass grave in one Lysychansk district, he added.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, said Russia’s “army is having some tactical success which is threatening to become an operational success in the direction of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk.”
Sievierodonetsk and Bakhmut, a town to the southeast, were in danger of being encircled, Arestovych said. “(It’s) possible that settlements will be abandoned, it’s possible we will have heavy losses.”
Families of people buried in mass graves will be able to carry out a reburial after the war, and police are issuing documents enabling Ukrainians to secure death certificates for loved ones, Gaidai said.
The main road out of Sievierodonetsk was being shelled, but humanitarian aid was still getting in, Gaidai said in an earlier statement. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian troops “heavily outnumber us” in some parts of the east.
As Moscow seeks to solidify its grip on the territory it has seized, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree simplifying the process for residents of newly captured districts to acquire Russian citizenship and passports.