78th day of hostilities: Russia is gaining momentum in eastern Ukraine

Ukraine’s military acknowledges that Russian forces in the east have made strides by stepping up operations in the region, although the extent is difficult to determine.

The 78th day of fighting between Russia and Ukraine continues in the east as Russian forces step up their advance while tough negotiations are underway at the Azovstal Steelworks in the city of Mariupol to prepare wounded soldiers.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said today that Russian forces have crossed the Seversky Donets River towards Lyman in the province. Donetsk. Lyman is a town northeast of the city of Sloviansk, one of the strategic targets of the Russian Armed Forces. Several bridges across the river had collapsed in previous fighting.

“Russia is regrouping forces towards Sloviansk to continue the offensive on Sloviansk and the city of Barvinkove in Kharkov province. They moved the battle group to the battalion level to reinforce the units,” the Ukrainian army said.

CNN previously reported that Russia has added battalion-level battlegroups to attack the area.

78th day of hostilities: Ukraine admits Russia has made progress in the east

A school in the village of Bilohorivka in Lugansk province in eastern Ukraine damaged in an airstrike on May 11. Video: AFP.

According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russian forces are advancing further east “towards the village of Kudriashivka towards the city of Severodonetsk in the province Lugansk and was partially successful. Their main task is to control the city of Rubishne, Lugansk Oblast, the city of Lyman, Donetsk Oblast and Severodonetsk.”

Kudriashivka is a small settlement near Severodonetsk and Rubizhne, where Ukrainian troops are said to have held off Russian advances for weeks.

Russian forces have repeatedly attempted to cross the Seversky Donets River, but the Ukrainian side has destroyed several pontoon bridges in recent days. The Ukrainian military said another attempt to cross the river took place near the city of Kreminna in Lugansk province. When Russian forces cross the river, Ukrainian troops in the Severodonetsk region are easily cut off.

In KharkivUkraine’s counterattack continues. According to the General Staff, Russian troops are strengthening their units in the border area.

“Russia is regrouping its troops to prevent our army from advancing towards the border. In the areas north of the city of Kharkov, Russian troops have fired on our units,” the ministry said.

In the south, the Ukrainian military believes Russian forces will continue shelling, but without changing frontline positions. Dnipro city officials said shelling continued throughout the night and one civilian was killed.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk said that “very difficult negotiations” were underway to evacuate seriously injured soldiers from the Azovstal Steel Plant in the city. Mariupol, currently controlled by Russian forces. Kyiv yesterday proposed to Moscow to exchange badly wounded soldiers for captured Russian soldiers.

“We are in talks to evacuate about 38 seriously wounded soldiers. We are working step by step. We will exchange these 38 people first and then move on,” Ms Vereshchuk posted on Telegram, while denying the announcement, as media reports The two sides negotiate the exchange of 500-600 people.

An explosion at the factory in Azovstal, the city of Mariupol, southern Ukraine on May 11.  Photo: Reuters.

An explosion at the factory in Azovstal, the city of Mariupol, southern Ukraine on May 11. Picture: Reuters.

According to Ukrainian sources, a Russian attack on the city of Novgorod-Siversky in the oblast killed three people and wounded 12 others. Chernihiv, in the north of the country. Chernihiv Governor Vyacheslav Chaus said that “critical infrastructure”, including a school, was affected.

The offensive comes almost two months after Russian forces withdrew from northern Ukraine to concentrate on the east and south.

Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov of the province Belgorod, the Russian border region, accused Ukrainian forces of attacking the village of Solokhi from across the border, killing one person and wounding seven. The rest of the people were evacuated to a safe place.

Gladkow described the shelling as “the heaviest ever” and added that a home was destroyed.

Ukraine has not commented on the allegations. With 638 inhabitants, Solokhi is located 20 kilometers north of the Ukrainian province of Kharkov.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has so far registered that more than 6 million Ukrainians left the country after February 24, when Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine. More than 8 million people, or almost a fifth of Ukraine’s population, had to be evacuated. UNHCR said late last month it expected about 8.3 million refugees to leave Ukraine.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on May 11 reported a total of 7,326 civilian casualties in Ukraine, of whom 3,541 died and 3,785 were injured. The agency warned the actual number could be much higher.

The British Ministry of Defense believes that Russia’s preference for operations in the Donbass leaves forces stationed in Kharkov province vulnerable to attacks by Ukrainian forces. In the initial stages of the conflict, Russia managed to encircle the area, but after suffering casualties it is said to have withdrawn units to reorganize and replenish the armed forces.

Ministry of War of Ukraine.  Graphic: Washington Post.

Ministry of War of Ukraine. Graphic: Washington Post.

Huyen Le (Corresponding AFP, CNN, sputnik, Guardian)