Ukrainian President: Situation in Donbass “extremely difficult”

The Ukrainian President said “the situation in Donbass is extremely difficult” as Russian troops intensify their attacks on the eastern cities of Sloviansk and Severodonetsk.

“The Ukrainian armed forces stop this attack. Every day our defense forces eliminate these Russian attack plans, which is a concrete contribution to our big day that we await and fight for: Victory Day,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address on the night of April 21.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a video address on the night of May 21.  Photo: Office of the President of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a video address on the night of May 21. Picture: Office of the President of Ukraine.

He admitted that “the situation in Donbass is extremely difficult” as in recent days the Russian army has intensified its attacks on the city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region and the city of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk province.

“No Russian attack, no rocket attack on the Rivne region, no shelling in the Kharkov or Sumy regions, nor possible attacks with any weapons in the Donbass can bring any results to Russia,” added the Ukrainian president.

Russia has not yet commented on this information.

Zelenskyi previously said that the strength of Ukraine’s military is now almost six times greater than when Russia launched a military operation in late February.

“We need an army of more than 250,000 or 260,000 men, but only about 120,000” are ready to fight in Ukraine before Russia begins the operation. “Now it’s 700,000. Now everyone sees the results of 700,000 people fighting.”

Ukraine’s president ordered a general mobilization after hostilities broke out, saying all men aged 18 to 60 should stay in the country and fight. Earlier this week, a law was introduced to Ukraine’s parliament requiring the stripping of citizenship of men who leave the country and do not return within 30 days.

After more than 80 days of fighting, although Russia controlled 80% of the Donbass region, fighting here became a tug of war, especially in areas with difficult terrain. The President of Ukraine said on May 19 that the situation in Donbass is now “hell”.

Defense Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov earlier this week assessed that the war with Russia has entered a protracted phase while Moscow prepares for a long-term military campaign to take full control of the Donbass region.

A senior Pentagon official said on condition of anonymity that Russian forces are now fighting in smaller groups in eastern Ukraine, rather than attacking with large battalion-level units as before, to counter the logistical, organizational structure on the battlefield.

Outline of the battlefield in eastern Ukraine after almost three months of war.  Graphic: Washington Post.

Outline of the battlefield in eastern Ukraine after almost three months of war. Graphic: Washington Post.

Huyen Le (Corresponding CNN, rt)