Donbass front lines changed as Ukraine counterattack

  • Russian forces make some progress in Donbass – Ukrainian army
  • Ukraine says it is in a state of attack near Izyum
  • The Russian Donbass Campaign Lost Its Momentum – British Army
  • Preparations for NATO bids by the Nordic countries – Germany

Kyiv, Ukraine (Reuters) – The front lines in Ukraine’s war shifted on Sunday as Russia made some advances in the hotly contested eastern Donbass region and the Ukrainian military launched a counterattack near the strategic Russian-controlled city of Izyum.

Ukrainian officials said that missiles in western Ukraine near the Polish border destroyed military infrastructure at night and were fired into the Lviv region of the Black Sea. Read more

Ukrainian forces have had a series of successes since the Russian invasion on February 24, forcing Russian leaders to abandon advances in Kyiv and then make rapid gains in the northeast to drive them out of Kharkiv, the second largest city.

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Since mid-April, Russian forces have concentrated much of their firepower on Donbass after failing to capture the capital.

A British military intelligence assessment released on Sunday said Russia lost about a third of its deployed ground combat force in February. The assessment said its offensive in the Donbass was well behind schedule and unlikely to make rapid progress over the next 30 days.

On Saturday night, Ukraine received a morale boost by winning the Eurovision Song Contest, a victory seen as a sign of the strength of popular support for Ukraine across Europe. Read more

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the victory, but said the situation in Donbass remains very difficult and Russian forces are still trying to salvage some kind of victory in a region wracked by conflict since 2014.

“They are not stopping their efforts,” he said. Read more

The invasion of Moscow, which she called a “special operation” to disarm and protect Ukraine from the fascists, destabilized European security. Kyiv and its Western allies say the assertion of fascism is an unfounded pretext for launching an unjustified war of aggression.

“hottest spot”

Continued pressure on Izyum and Russia’s supply lines will make it difficult for Moscow to encircle powerful Ukrainian forces fighting on the Eastern Front in the Donbass.

Izyum runs on the Donets River, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Kharkiv on the main southeast highway.

“The hottest spot is the direction of Izyum,” regional governor Oleh Senegubov said in comments broadcast on social media.

“Our armed forces turned to a counterattack there. The enemy is retreating on some fronts, and this is the result of the nature of our armed forces,” he added.

But the Ukrainian military acknowledged setbacks in an update released Sunday morning: “Despite the losses, Russian forces continue to advance in the Lyman, Severodonetsk, Avdiivka and Kurakhiv regions in the wider Donbass region.”

Both sides claimed successful military strikes in Donbass.

No one has calmed down, the Ukrainian military said on Sunday, as Russia’s bombing of steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, where several hundred Ukrainian fighters are being held, weeks after the city fell to the Russians.

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Zelensky said that talks are underway to find a way to evacuate wounded soldiers from Mariupol in exchange for the release of Russian prisoners of war.

A large convoy of cars and vans carrying refugees from the ruins of Mariupol arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhia after dark on Saturday, after waiting days for Russian forces to let them leave. Read more

Irina Petrenko, 63, in the convoy, said she initially stayed to take care of her 92-year-old mother, who then died.

“We buried her near her house, because there was nowhere to bury anyone,” she said.

NATO applicants

One of the goals of Russian action in Ukraine was to prevent the former Soviet republic from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

But Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Saturday that his country, which shares a 1,300 km border with Russia, wants to join NATO to boost its security.

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats on Sunday prepared to voice their support for the country’s entry into NATO, paving the way for an application and abandoning decades of military non-alignment in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Read more

The Kremlin said Putin told Niinistö that it would be a mistake for Helsinki to abandon its neutrality, adding that the move could harm bilateral relations.

Germany said on Sunday it had made preparations for a speedy certification process, should Finland and Sweden apply. Read more

“We have to make sure that we give them security guarantees, and there should be no transition period, a gray area, where their status is unclear,” Foreign Minister Annalena Barbock said.

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In addition to losing large numbers of men and much military equipment, Russia was subjected to economic sanctions. On Saturday, the Group of Seven major industrialized nations pledged “more economic and political pressure on Russia” and to supply Ukraine with more weapons. Read more

In another token of international solidarity, Republican senators made a surprise visit to Kyiv. Zelensky said the delegation discussed further toughening of sanctions against Russia. Read more

The winners of the Eurovision Song Contest get to host the event the following year.

“Our courage dazzles the world, our music conquers Europe! Next year Ukraine will host the Eurovision Song Contest,” Zelensky said in an online message after the Kalush Orchestra won its entry “Stefania”.

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Additional reporting by Jonathan Landay, Natalia Zenets, Gleb Garanich, Leonardo Pinassato, Tara Oakes, Tom Balmforth, Idris Ali, David Younggreen, Lydia Kelly and other Reuters offices; Writing by Aidan Lewis and Simon Cameron Moore; Editing by William Mallard and David Clarke

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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