Russia continued on Saturday to shell eastern Ukraine, a region it has erected as the main objective of its invasion. The forces under Moscow’s orders claimed to have destroyed with cruise missiles a stock of weapons delivered by the West, when US President Joe Biden signed the law providing for a gigantic new aid of 40 billion dollars to kyiv.
According to the Ukrainian president, the current phase of the war, where the Russians are concentrating their efforts in the East, “will be bloody”. However, it will ultimately have to be resolved “via diplomacy”, estimated Volodymyr Zelensky. “Discussions will necessarily take place.” He again said he was ready, if necessary, for a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, who has so far never followed up.
On the ground, in the east of the country, still the scene of intense fighting, the military situation “did not change significantly” on Saturday. But the day “was very difficult”, continued the Ukrainian head of state in his usual video message posted in the evening. “The situation in Donbass is extremely difficult.” But the army “repels this offensive. Every day that our defenders disrupt the plans of the Russians brings us closer to the crucial day, (…) which we all desire and for which we fight. The day of victory”, he said. -He insists.
The Ukrainian general staff noted, in its morning update this Sunday, that the Russian army was continuing “its missile and air strikes throughout the territory”. It had even “increased the intensity by using aviation to destroy crucial infrastructure”.
Russia, for its part, claimed to have struck a large stockpile of weapons supplied by the West to Ukraine. “Long-range, high-precision Kalibr missiles, launched from the sea, destroyed a large consignment of weapons and military equipment supplied by the United States and European countries, near Malin railway station, in the Zhytomyr region,” Moscow said. However, it was not possible to verify this information from an independent source.
During an official visit to Seoul, the American president signed, on Saturday, the law adopted Thursday by Congress, providing a gigantic envelope of 40 billion dollars in support of Ukraine, in particular for its war effort. Volodymyr Zelensky hailed this release of aid “now more necessary than ever”.
In retaliation, Moscow immediately released a new list of 963 American personalities banned from entering Russia. These “counter-sanctions” aim to “constrain the American power in place, which is trying to impose a neocolonial “world order” on the rest of the planet (…), to change its position and to recognize new geopolitical realities” , said the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Are present in this list, among others, the American president Joe Biden, his secretary of State Antony Blinken, the head of the Pentagon Lloyd Austin, the CEO of Meta Mark Zuckerberg or the Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman.
According to Serguiï Gaïdaï, Ukrainian governor of the Lugansk region (east), “the Russians are throwing all their efforts to capture Severodonetsk”, where the strikes “have been multiplied several times in recent days”. “The city is being destroyed, as before they destroyed Roubijné and Popasna,” he denounced on Saturday evening. The governor also claimed that Russian forces had destroyed the Pavlograd bridge, “which will greatly complicate the evacuation of civilians and the deliveries of humanitarian trucks”.
In the Severodonestk region, the Russians continued their offensives and assaults on several localities, but “they were forced to retreat to the old positions” and suffered “losses”, according to a communication from the Ukrainian General Staff , Sunday morning. “Nine attacks have been repelled in the past 24 hours in the Donestk and Lugansk regions,” he said, listing the destroyed Russian equipment: tanks, artillery systems, armored vehicles and an Orlan-10 drone, among others.
Further north, the governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleg Sinegoubov, said that surrounding communities had been targeted by heavy artillery fire. They left one dead and twenty injured.
In the martyr city of Mariupol (south-east), largely destroyed, nearly 2,500 men of the Ukrainian forces were made prisoners this week, according to the Russians. These resistance fighters, entrenched for weeks in the Azovstal steel complex, “will be brought home”, promised Volodymyr Zelensky on Ukrainian television. Russia will “study” the possibility of exchanging these fighters from the Ukrainian Azov regiment for Viktor Medvedchuk, a well-known Ukrainian politician and businessman close to Vladimir Putin. He was arrested in mid-April while on the run.
Ukraine is at the initiative of a resolution which must be submitted this Sunday to the assembly of 194 members of the World Health Organization (WHO). It must denounce the attacks perpetrated by Moscow on the health system, but also condemn the extremely serious consequences of the invasion and the blockade of the Ukrainian ports on the world supply and the explosion of the price of cereals.
The country will also be present at the heart of discussions at the Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which begins on Monday. Volodymyr Zelensky will be the first head of state to make a speech, by videoconference, which a good number of Ukrainian politicians will make the trip in person. The Russians, on the other hand, were excluded.