In view of the massive Russian attacks in the east, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fears that the Donbass will be largely depopulated. With their superior firepower, the attacking Russian troops put pressure on the Ukrainian defenders around the city of Sieverodonetsk on Thursday.
“The ongoing offensive of the occupiers in the Donbass could make the region uninhabitable,” Zelenskyy said in his evening video address in Kyiv. He accused the Russians of wanting to reduce Ukrainian cities to rubble. “All of this, including the kidnapping of our people and the mass killing of civilians, is a blatant genocidal policy being pursued by Russia.”
In his video, the Ukrainian President asked why the EU is taking so long to pass a sixth package of sanctions. Russia still earns billions from energy exports, and not all Russian banks have been sanctioned yet. How long will Ukraine have to fight to get the necessary weapons, he asked. “Ukraine will always be an independent state and will not break up.” The question is what price Ukraine has to pay for its freedom.
At the end of February, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the war against Ukraine under the pretext of ending the alleged “genocide” of the Russian-speaking population in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. In April, the Ukrainian parliament approved a resolution in which the Attacks by the Russian military in the country were then labeled “genocide.” This Friday marks the 93rd day of the war.
The Ukrainian army is under severe pressure in the far east of its front. Sieverodonetsk in the Luhansk region was shelled by artillery and from the air on Thursday, Governor Serhiy Hajday said. The Ukrainian general staff announced that the attack on the city and its suburb Borivske was unsuccessful. The military information was not independently verifiable. In another nearby village, in Ustynivka, the Russian side was said to have achieved a partial victory.
The major cities of Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk are currently Ukraine’s extreme outposts in the east. But there are also fights in the rear of these cities, which means that Ukrainian troops are threatened with being cordoned off.
On the north side of this possible pocket, the city of Lyman has been lost, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych confirmed on Ukrainian television. On the south side there was fighting for the towns of Komyshuvahka, Nirkove and Berestove.
Nine people were killed in rocket attacks on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, including a five-month-old child with his father, Zelenskyy said. 19 people were injured.
Meanwhile, according to a media report, the US government is considering sending advanced long-range missile systems to Ukraine. The US-made weapons systems could fire missiles hundreds of kilometers away, CNN reported, citing several officials. A new military aid package could be announced as early as next week.
Ukraine asked for these types of weapons, it said. However, the US government has been hesitant because of fears that Ukraine could use the missile systems for attacks on Russian territory. The question arises whether this could lead to a Russian retaliation, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Zelenskyy of not being willing to negotiate. The West also supports the Ukrainian head of state in this stance, Lavrov told the Arabic-language branch of the state television channel RT.
Zelenskyj had previously said that he would only negotiate directly with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin – and only if Russia withdrew to the borders before February 24. “You don’t have to explain or prove to anyone that this isn’t serious,” Lavrov said.
The US government has rejected Russia’s demand that sanctions be lifted in exchange for a release of Ukrainian grain stocks. “It is Russia that is actively blocking food exports from Ukrainian ports and increasing world hunger,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in Washington.
There would be tons of grain stored in silos in Ukraine and on ships that could not be shipped because of the Russian naval blockade. The sanctions would prevent neither the export nor the necessary monetary transactions. There is currently no discussion about lifting sanctions, said Jean-Pierre.
Russia had declared its readiness to take action against the food crisis if the West lifted its sanctions against Moscow. President Vladimir Putin stressed in a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Russia was ready “to make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis through the export of grain and fertilizers, provided that the politically motivated restrictions imposed by the West are lifted.” the Kremlin on Thursday.
Against the background of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, a large multinational maneuver is taking place in the Baltic region under the leadership of the USA. In addition to 14 NATO countries such as Germany, the partner countries Sweden and Finland will also take part in the annual maritime exercise “Baltops 22”. US Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said: There should be 45 naval units, 75 aircraft and around 7,000 soldiers.
Sweden is hosting the maneuver this year, scheduled from June 5-17. Sweden and Finland have applied for NATO membership because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The maneuver has been taking place regularly in the Baltic Sea region since 1972.
The effects of the Ukraine war on the global energy industry is a topic for the Ministers for Climate, Energy and Environment of the Group of Seven Important Industrial Nations (G7). They end their meeting in Berlin on Friday. It should also be about the exit from coal-fired power generation.