The 85th day of hostilities: Russia outlines the future of southern Ukraine

Russia says the future of areas it controls in southern Ukraine will be decided by local people and has ruled out the possibility of a permanent presence there.

Asked about the future of southern Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a news conference in Moscow today that only locals could decide the fate of these regions.

He dismissed claims that Russia was seeking a permanent presence in areas under its control in Ukraine, stressing the importance of ensuring basic living conditions for local populations.

“Social security must be guaranteed, nothing can stop here,” said Peskow. “Many areas currently have no electricity, water or sewage. These issues need to be addressed.”

officials in breakaway regions Donetsk and Luhansk, Eastern Ukraine, had also previously expressed a desire to annex Russia. In some cities like Mariupol, Kherson and Berdyansk, Russian forces have established local governments responsible for restoring normal life and laying the foundations for the future.

The Russian Armed Forces also plan to pay employees’ salaries and pensions in Russian rubles instead of Ukrainian currency.

Police officers rescue people trapped in the rubble of an airstrike in the town of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on April 19. Photo: Reuters.

Police officers rescue people trapped in the rubble of an airstrike in the town of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on April 19. Image: Reuters.

Government of Russia established in the province kherson, Southern Ukraine and claimed that the area could become part of Russia. “We regard Russia as our own country,” said Kherson’s Prime Minister Vladimir Saldo.

During a trip to the province Zaporizhia On May 18, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said that the southeastern region of Ukraine could also join the “friendly Russian family.” “That’s why I’m here, to integrate as much as possible,” he told reporters.

Mr. Khusnullin pointed out that if Kyiv refuses to pay Moscow’s electricity bills, Russia can cut off electricity from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant to Ukraine. “If Ukraine is willing to purchase and pay for electricity from Zaporizhia, this plant will work for Ukraine. If not, it will work for Russia.”

Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom later announced that the Zaporizhzhia plant would continue to feed electricity into Ukraine’s national grid. The Russians “do not have the technical capacity to deliver energy from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant to Russia or Crimea,” said Energoatom spokesman Leonid Oliynyk. “This requires costs and time. In a month or two we will have the plant under control again.”

Meanwhile, Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out cross-border fire attacks. Roman Starovoit, governor of the province Kursk Russia said at least one person died in Ukrainian attacks on the village of Tyotkino. Kyiv did not comment on this information.

Ukrainian-controlled regional military government in Lugansk said that 12 civilians were killed and 40 injured as a result of intense Russian airstrikes.

Lugansk Prime Minister Serhiy Haidai said all of the casualties occurred in the city of Severodonetsk. Haidai accused Russian forces of “mainly targeting residential buildings.”

The official emphasized that this is not the final number of casualties “because it is not possible to verify the area hit by the fire”.

Russia has not yet responded to this accusation.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said today that another 771 soldiers at the Azovstal Steel Plant have accepted surrender, bringing the total number of soldiers who have surrendered to 1,730 since Ukraine announced the end of combat operations in the country. Mariupol.

Of these, wounded soldiers were taken to the Novoazovsk Hospital in an area controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the rest were taken by Russian forces to a detention center in the town of Yelenovka, a suburb of the Donetsk city.

The 85th day of hostilities: a sign that Russia wants to be present in southern Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers exit the Azovstal Steel Plant in the city of Mariupol in video released May 19. Video: Ministry of Defense of Russia.

The number of soldiers surrendered by Russia and Ukraine is still contradicting itself. Kyiv said on May 17 that 250 soldiers surrendered but did not say how many were inside.

According to a Ukrainian general, the evacuation of Ukrainian troops from the southern port city of Mariupol continues. “Measures are being taken in Mariupol to evacuate our heroes,” said Oleksiy Gromov, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, without giving details.

Ukraine’s General Staff announced that Russian forces had suffered “significant casualties” and had to retreat while attacking a residential area to clear a way into the city. Sloviansknorthwest of Donetsk Oblast.

Fighting has been going on for the settlement of Velyka Komyshuvakha in the Kharkov region since the end of April, after Russia seized control of Izyum and tried to advance towards the north-western city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region. However, the battlefield situation in this area has hardly changed in recent years.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has so far recorded that more than 6.3 million Ukrainians left the country after February 24, when Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported a total of 8,089 civilian casualties in Ukraine, of whom 3,811 died and 4,278 were injured. The agency warned the actual number could be much higher.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has exacerbated food insecurity in poor countries due to rising prices. According to him, an effective solution is to reintegrate Ukraine into the global food supply chain and restore supplies of fertilizers from Russia and Belarus to the world market.

Overview of the battlefield in eastern Ukraine after more than 80 days of fighting.  Click here for details.

Overview of the battlefield in eastern Ukraine after more than 80 days of fighting. Click here for details.

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