The front lines in Donbass are shifting as Ukraine launches a counteroffensive

The front lines in Donbass are shifting as Ukraine launches a counteroffensive

  • Russian Armed Forces Make Some Advances in Donbass-Ukraine Military
  • Ukraine says it is on the offensive near Izium
  • Russian Donbass campaign has lost momentum – British military
  • Preparations for NATO offers from the Nordic countries – Germany

Kyiv, Ukraine, May 15 (Reuters) – The frontlines in the Ukraine war had shifted on Sunday as Russia made some advances in the hard-fought eastern Donbass region and the Ukrainian military launched a counter-offensive near the strategically Russian-held town of Izium performed.

In western Ukraine near the Polish border, missiles destroyed military infrastructure overnight and were fired from the Black Sea toward the Lviv region, Ukrainian officials said. Continue reading

Ukrainian forces have had a string of successes since Russia’s February 24 invasion, forcing Russian commanders to abandon an advance on Kyiv and then making quick gains in the northeast to drive them out of the second-biggest city, Kharkiv.

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

An assessment by British military intelligence released on Sunday says Russia has lost about a third of the ground combat troops deployed in February. The Donbass offensive is “significantly behind schedule” and is unlikely to make rapid progress in the next 30 days, the assessment said.

On Saturday night, Ukraine received a morale boost by winning the Eurovision Song Contest, a triumph seen as a sign of the strength of support for Ukraine across Europe. Continue reading

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

“They are not stopping their efforts,” he said. Continue reading

Moscow’s invasion, which it calls a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists, has shattered European security. Kyiv and its Western allies say the fascism claim is an unfounded pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression.

‘HOTTEST SPOT’

Keeping the pressure on Izium and Russian supply lines will make it harder for Moscow to encircle the battle-hardened Ukrainian troops on the eastern front in Donbass.

Izium straddles the Donets River about 120 km (75 miles) from Kharkiv on the main southeastbound road.

“The hottest spot remains the Izium direction,” regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said in comments broadcast on social media.

“Our forces have switched to a counter-offensive there. The enemy is retreating on some fronts and that is the nature of our forces.”

But the Ukrainian military acknowledged setbacks in an update Sunday morning: “Despite casualties, Russian forces continue to advance in the Lyman, Sievierodonetsk, Avdiivka and Kurakhiv areas of the wider Donbass region.”

Both sides claimed successes in military strikes in Donbass.

Ukraine’s military said it did not abate Sunday’s Russian bombardment of the steel plant in the southern port of Mariupol, where several hundred Ukrainian militants wait weeks after the city fell into Russian hands.

Zelenskyi said talks were 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 for days for Russian troops to allow them to leave. Continue reading

Iryna Petrenko, a 63-year-old in the convoy, said she initially stayed to look after her 92-year-old mother, who later died.

“We buried her next to her house because there wasn’t a place to bury someone,” she said.

NATO CANDIDATE

One of the aims of Russia’s actions 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 bolster its own security.

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats were also ready on Sunday to back the country’s NATO membership, paving the way for a bid and abandoning decades of military non-alignment following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Continue reading

Putin told Niinisto it would be a mistake for Helsinki to give up its neutrality, the Kremlin said, adding that it could hurt bilateral ties.

Germany said on Sunday it had made preparations for a rapid ratification process should Finland and Sweden apply. Continue reading

“We have to make sure that we give them security guarantees, there must be no transitional period, no gray area in which their status is unclear,” said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

In addition to the loss of large numbers of men and much military equipment, Russia was hit by economic sanctions. The Group of Seven industrial powers pledged on Saturday to “continue to increase economic and political pressure on Russia” and to supply more arms to Ukraine. Continue reading

As a further sign of international solidarity, Republican US senators paid an unannounced visit to Kyiv. Zelensky said the delegation had discussed further tightening of sanctions against Russia. Continue reading

The winners of the Eurovision Song Contest are traditionally allowed to host the event the following year.

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

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Additional reporting from Jonathan Landay, Natalia Zinets, Gleb Garanich, Leonardo Benassatto, Tara Oakes, Tom Balmforth, Idrees Ali, David Ljunggren, Lidia Kelly and other Reuters bureaus; writing by Aidan Lewis and Simon Cameron-Moore; Edited by William Mallard and David Clarke

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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