While Russia continues to play off its military superiority in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv can celebrate the recapture of the symbolic Snake Island in the Black Sea. Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has offered Europeans to replace Russian natural gas supplies with electricity from his country. According to Ukrainian sources, ten people were killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the Odessa region.
Russia’s withdrawal from Snake Island puts Ukraine in a better position, Zelensky said. “Snake Island is a strategic point and that changes the situation in the Black Sea significantly,” he said in his daily video speech on Friday night. This significantly restricts the Russian military’s freedom of action – even if this does not guarantee security.
Russia occupied Snake Island shortly after attacking Ukraine on February 24. The fact that the few Ukrainian soldiers in front of it obscenely recommended the later sunk Russian cruiser “Moskva” to go to hell made the small island famous and boosted the morale of the Ukrainians. The reconquest of the island is also a symbolic success for them.
According to the Ukrainian military, Snake Island allows control over parts of Ukraine’s coast and shipping lanes. With the Russians withdrawing from the island, the area around the port city of Odessa need not fear a landing by Russian units from the sea.
However, air strikes remain possible, as the Russian military demonstrated a few hours after withdrawing from Snake Island. A Russian rocket attack in the Odessa region killed ten people in an apartment building, according to Ukrainian sources. The rocket destroyed part of the nine-story building, said the head of the local military administration, Serhiy Brachuk. A fire broke out after the attack. The missile was fired from a Russian military plane over the Black Sea. The information could not be independently verified.
In the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, the pro-government troops in Lysychansk say they are under acute threat of being surrounded. The refinery, located almost seven kilometers west of the city, was fought over, the general staff said. Russian troops were advancing on the city from the south, and fighting was also going on on the western and southern city limits. The refinery has already been portrayed as completely conquered in the Russian media.
Lysychansk is the last major town in the Luhansk region under Ukrainian control. In the end, he could only be supplied with supplies via a few supply routes from the west.
In the neighboring Donetsk region, Russian advances near Sloviansk and Bakhmut had been repulsed, the general staff said. Along the entire front line, Ukrainian positions would be continuously shelled with artillery and bombarded from the air. “The superiority of the occupiers in terms of firepower is extremely noticeable,” said Zelenskyj on the situation in the east. Russia draws on its reserves for this.
The Ukrainian President encouraged European countries to buy electricity from Ukraine. This could replace a significant part of natural gas supplies from Russia, he said. Ukraine has been supplying electricity to Romania since Thursday. “We are ready to expand the offer,” Zelenskyj said. At the end of February, Ukraine disconnected from the former Soviet power grid and, together with Moldova, synchronized with the European power grid in March.
Already last week Kyiv offered Germany the export of Ukrainian nuclear power. Four nuclear power plants of Soviet design ensure more than half of Ukraine’s electricity production.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called Selenskyj again. The conversation lasted about an hour, according to the Federal President’s Office. Among other things, Steinmeier congratulated Ukraine on its EU accession candidate status.
Zelenskyj said he thanked for the support already given. At the same time he “re-described our priorities – the types of weapons that we need”.
Selenskyj and Steinmeier spoke on the phone for the first time at the beginning of May and cleared up previous irritations. These arose after the Ukrainian side had uninvited Steinmeier as foreign minister in mid-April, referring to his previous Russia policy.
Russia postponed the start of a train service announced for Friday between the Crimean Peninsula, annexed in 2014, and the war-occupied Ukrainian cities of Cherson and Melitopol. The pro-Russian Crimean authorities referred to security concerns. However, bus connections should be available as announced. Russia is attempting, among other things, to cement its control over the areas occupied during the war by issuing Russian passports and introducing the ruble as its currency.