Ukraine offers to exchange soldiers after territorial gains


Ukraine is gaining ground in the northeast near the megacity of Kharkiv. The Russians are being pushed back to the border there, Ukraine reports. Military experts expect a stalemate with Russia, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hopes the Russians will also leave for southern places like Mariupol.

Ukraine has offered Russia to exchange seriously injured defenders at the Azovstal factory in the port of Mariupol for Russian prisoners of war, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Wednesday. “There is no agreement yet. Negotiations are continuing,” she said in an online post.

Ukrainian soldiers at the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, which are the last stronghold of resistance against Russian troops in the southern port city, said on Sunday surrender was not an option.

According to Ukraine, there are still more than a thousand fighters. Hundreds of them are injured, some seriously. The Deputy Prime Minister had previously said they needed to be evacuated urgently.

Land gain in northeastern Ukraine near Kharkiv

To the north, Ukrainian forces have made territorial gains against the Russians, north of the megacity of Kharkiv, kyiv says. Several villages and suburbs were taken and the Russians were pushed back to the border in the northeast of the country.

The villages of Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshki, Borshchova and Slobozhanske are all back in Ukrainian hands, quotes BBC News the Ukrainian army. “Death traps” have been left in villages, says Governor Oleg Synegubov. “The enemy wants to kill as many civilians as possible,” he said.

The advance of Ukrainian troops makes it more difficult for the Russians to bombard the megalopolis of Kharkiv with rockets. Before the war, the city had a population of one and a half million and was bombarded daily for more than two months, causing many deaths.

US: Putin prepares for protracted conflict

Ukraine’s success near Kharkiv heralds a new phase of war, military experts say. Senior US intelligence officials see Putin preparing for a protracted conflict. In the end, he would no longer be satisfied with a victory in the Donets basin either, says intelligence chief Avril Haines.

Scott Berrier, head of US military intelligence, finds that the warring parties are at an impasse: the two are making little or no progress. “The Russians are currently using brutal military methods to break the resistance in the east,” he added.

Zelensky wants a counteroffensive push to the southeast

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the successes of the Ukrainian military in a video message. He confirmed that the Russians were “gradually” being driven out of the northeast and said the counter-offensive “could mean a change in the momentum of the war”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hopes that eventually Kherson, Melitopol, Berdyansk, Mariupol and other besieged cities will also be taken from Russian hands.

The Ukrainian city of Izyum in northeastern Ukraine suffered a setback. 44 bodies of civilians were found under the rubble of a collapsed building. The Kharkiv region governor said civilians were killed when the five-storey building collapsed in early March. Izyum has been on the front lines of the war in Ukraine for weeks and has been heavily shelled.

Russian news agency RIA also reports that a person in a Russian village was injured in a shelling by Ukrainian troops. The village would be located in the Belgorod region, near the border with Ukraine.

Sweden and Finland receive UK support

At the diplomatic level, there are developments beyond the borders of Russia and Ukraine. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that he will provide military aid to Sweden or Finland if those countries are attacked during the transition period to NATO membership.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Finland and Sweden have been considering joining the NATO military alliance. There are fears of possible reprisals from Russia.

The entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO would mark a historic turning point for the Scandinavian region and would profoundly change the military balance in Europe. On May 12, Finland will formally decide whether to apply for membership and Sweden will make that decision on May 13, the news agency reported. Reuters Tuesday.

Before countries formally belong to NATO, there is a transition period. During this transition period, the two countries are not yet protected by Article 5 of NATO. It stipulates that an attack against one of the NATO countries is considered an attack against all member states.

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