Ukrainian forces say they are pushing Russian forces out of the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, the second-largest city in Ukraine to have been bombed since late February, while the situation on the other fronts in southern and eastern Ukraine is not clear. to change significantly. At the same time, Kyiv has cut off gas flows to a Russian-owned land route, increasing the risk of an energy crisis in Europe.
Following is an update on the situation on the field on the 77th day of the war from responses from French Agency journalists present on the field, official statements by Ukraine and Russia, Western sources, analysts and international organizations, and diplomatic and energy news.
Last night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the “superhuman strength” of the Ukrainian military, saying that “the occupiers are gradually being expelled from Kharkov.” “I am grateful to all our defenders, who are resisting and showing truly superhuman strength to drive out the invading army,” he said, noting that his country is fighting what was once considered the “second most powerful army in the world”. people”.
Ukraine’s second largest city, about 30 km from the Russian border, has been bombed since late February.
“The sites of Cherkasy Tsitsky, Ruski Tsitsky, Rubine and Bayrak have been liberated” in the area of this large city, the Ukrainian General Staff said on Facebook. “Thus, the enemy was pushed even further away from Kharkov and the occupying forces had even fewer chances to strike the regional center.”
“But the intensity of the bombing in the Kharkiv region has increased,” he said.
Attachment of Hersonissos?
Authorities set up by Moscow in the Ukrainian region of Kherson intend to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to annex it to Russia, pro-Russian local officials said today.
“There will be a request (to Putin) for the annexation of the Kherson region to the Russian Federation,” Kirill Stremusov, the deputy head of the Kherson military-political administration, told Russian news agencies.
For its part, the Kremlin commented today that the people of Kherson are the ones who will decide if they want to join Russia, but added that the decision should have a strong legal basis.
The area of the Peninsula, located north of Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, is vital for supplying the peninsula with water.
The occupation of Kherson, which is the only real military success that Moscow has recorded since its invasion of Ukraine, also allows Russia to build a land bridge connecting Crimea, Donetsk, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatist rebels, and the Russian territory.
Fighting continues in Fidonisi, a small strategically important island in the Black Sea that the Russians took control of at the start of the war and where they are trying to bolster their forces exposed to Ukrainian blows, according to the British Ministry of Defense.
If Russia manages to consolidate its position on the island, “it could dominate the northwestern part of the Black Sea,” the source added.
The “second phase” of the “special military operation” announced by Moscow aims at the complete occupation of Donbas and the fighting is particularly intense in the Luhansk region.
But attention is now turning to the southwestern part of the country. The Russian president wants to “extend” the war in Transnistria, a region of Moldova that seceded in 1990, said yesterday the head of the US intelligence services, Avril Haynes. He also said that Putin was preparing for a protracted war in Ukraine and that a Russian victory in Donbass in eastern Ukraine might not end the war.
Near Odessa, “psychological pressure continues on the neighboring population of Transnistria” with “the possible blockade of the area due to the decommissioning of the Dniester bridge, which was again attacked by rockets,” said the Ukrainian administration.
There is no overall assessment of the civilian victims of the conflict. In Mariupol alone, Ukrainian authorities spoke of 20,000 dead several weeks ago. And Ukrainian investigators say they have identified “more than 8,000 cases” of alleged war crimes.
At the military level, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry estimates that Russia has lost more than 25,000 men, 199 planes and 1,130 tanks since the invasion began on February 24.
The Kremlin has admitted that it has “significant losses”. Some Western sources put the death toll at up to 12,000.
President Zelensky said about 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and about 10,000 wounded.
No independent accounts available.
Millions displaced and refugees
More than eight million people were internally displaced in Ukraine on May 3, more than two months after Russia invaded the country, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said yesterday.
In all, the IOM estimates that 13.686 million people were forced to flee their homes due to Putin’s February 24 attack, of which 8.029 million fled to other parts of Ukraine and the rest fled the country.
Kyiv cuts off Russian gas supplies from Sokhranifka
The volume of Russian gas transported through Ukraine, an important passage for European supplies, appeared to be reduced today as clashes in the east of the country with the Russian army impede, according to Kyiv, the smooth operation of gas infrastructure.
Ukraine’s gas transmission system management company GTSOU said yesterday that the presence of Russian forces near the Sokhranifka and Novopskov facilities in the Luhansk region did not allow for a smooth flow of gas and called for the transfer of these volumes from another interconnection point. Soutza.
In the evening, the Russian gas giant Gazprom denied that there was any case of “force majeure” and argued that it was impossible to divert the flow of gas.
The head of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company Naftogaz, Yuri Vitrenko, said today that he could not confirm Russia’s Gazprom claim that it was not technically possible to divert gas to Ukraine at a new point of entry.
Speaking today at the Paris School of Political Science (Sciences Po), President Zelensky said that the war with Russia would have been prevented if his country had been a member of NATO. “If Ukraine had been a member of NATO before the war, there would not have been a war,” Zelensky told students via video link.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the time will come for peace talks on Ukraine, but does not see this happening in the near future.
“This war will not last forever. “The time will come for peace talks to take place,” Guterres told a news conference with Austrian President Alexander van der Belen.