Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine ‘lost momentum’, report says

The Ukrainian military launched a counteroffensive near the Russian-held eastern town of Izyum, as kyiv said Kremlin forces were withdrawing from areas near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, in what appears to be the latest setback in Moscow’s military offensive.

The Ukrainian General Staff said on May 14 that Russian forces appeared to be concentrating on protecting supply routes and were launching mortar, artillery and air strikes in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine, with the aim of “exhausting the Ukrainian forces and destroying the fortifications”.

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Ukraine was “entering a new long-term phase of the war”.

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Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell led a delegation of Republican senators on a surprise visit to kyiv in a show of support for Ukraine in its fight against the unprovoked Russian invasion.

The McConnell-led trip, which followed that of Democratic House of Representatives leaders on May 1, comes as the Senate tries to finalize a $40 billion military aid package for Ukraine.

Apart from Ukraine, the major industrialized countries of the Group of Seven (G7) reaffirmed their support for Ukraineclaiming that they were ready to provide assistance to kyiv for as long as needed in the fight against Russian forces.

“We underscore Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and right to self-defence under the UN Charter. This war of aggression has reaffirmed our resolve to reject outright attempts to redraw borders by force in violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the G7, which includes the United States, Great -Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan.

Kharkiv had come under heavy shelling by Russian forces since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, but it never fell. The American Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment of the conflict on May 13 that Ukraine appears to have won the “Battle of Kharkiv”, noting that Ukrainian forces had prevented Russian troops from encircling, “not to mention grabbing,” the city.

Speaking during his nightly national address on May 13, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his country’s forces were making progress in their efforts to counter the Russian offensive and had recaptured six towns and villages the day before.

However, neither side appears to be making any major breakthroughs, and although Zelenskiy said his army was doing everything it could to drive Russian forces out of Ukrainian territory, “no one today can predict how long this will last.” this war”.

Zelenskiy said the outcome will depend not only on the Ukrainian people, but on “our partners, European countries, the whole free world”.

Ukraine’s top military intelligence official, Major General Kyrlyo Budanov, gave a more optimistic assessment. Budanov told Sky News on May 14 that “the breaking point will be in the second half of August” and that “most active combat action will be over by the end of this year.”

“As a result, we will renew Ukrainian power over all our territories that we have lost, including Donbass and Crimea,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said it was impossible to determine how long the conflict would last, saying the West planned to wage an “all-out hybrid war” against Russia.

He added that attempts by Western countries to isolate Russia through a series of far-reaching sanctions were doomed to failure.

Russian forces have suffered numerous casualties since their invasion of Ukraine in late February, and their ongoing offensive in the east of the country has made minimal territorial gains and is widely seen as lagging behind.

But while Russia has failed both in its attempts to quickly take all of Ukraine and then encircle Ukrainian troops in besieged areas, kyiv now sees the war entering a “third phase” in which Russian forces will seek to defend the territory they have captured.

“It shows that they intend to make a long war out of it,” Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Viktor Andrusiv said in televised remarks on May 13. “Moscow seems to think that by prolonging the war in this way, they can force the West to negotiate table and get Ukraine to give in.”

Zelenskiy said “very difficult negotiations” with Moscow are continuing in a bid to evacuate Ukrainian forces from the southeastern port city of Mariupol, which was devastated by the Russian military as it attempts to open a land corridor to the seized territory of Crimea.

Dozens of seriously injured Ukrainian personnel remain trapped inside the city’s Azovstal metal factory, the last Ukrainian checkpoint in the city that has been the target of a seven-week siege by Russian forces.

On May 14, the British Ministry of Defense said that the civil administration in charge of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine by the Russian army will ask Moscow to include it in the Russian Federation.

Should the occupied region hold a referendum, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Twitter, the vote would almost certainly be manipulated to show that a clear majority of the region’s population want to leave Ukraine.

On May 11, the regional military administration in Zaporizhzhya, southeastern Ukraine, said Russia was not changing its war plans, which it said involved occupying Ukrainian territories and creating pseudo-republics in the southern regions.

With reports by AP, Reuters and dpa

Amanda J. Marsh