RUSKA LOZOVA, Ukraine – Russia struck positions in eastern Ukraine on Sunday (May 15), its defense ministry said, as it sought to encircle Ukrainian forces in the battle for Donbas and fend off a counteroffensive around the strategic city of Russia controlled by Russia. Izium.
At a meeting in Germany, the secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) said Ukraine could win the war and called for more military support and accelerated approval of expected offers from Finland and Sweden to join the alliance.
Ukraine has scored a string of successes since Russia invaded on February 24, forcing Russian commanders to abandon an advance on the capital, kyiv, before making rapid progress to drive them out of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. .
The invasion of Moscow, which it calls a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists, has shaken European security. kyiv and its Western allies say the assertion of fascism is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression.
The president of Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre border with Russia, confirmed on Sunday that his country would apply to join NATO, a major policy change prompted by Russia’s invasion. Sweden’s ruling party did the same.
Since mid-April, Russian forces have focused much of their firepower on trying to capture two eastern provinces known as Donbas after failing to take kyiv.
A British military intelligence assessment said Russia had lost around a third of the ground combat force deployed in February. Its Donbas offensive had been “significantly” delayed and was unlikely to make any rapid advances over the next 30 days, according to the assessment.
“Russia’s war in Ukraine is not going as Moscow had planned,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Ukraine received a morale boost with victory in the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night, a win seen as a sign of the strength of popular support for Ukraine across Europe.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the victory but said the situation in Donbas remains very difficult and Russian forces are still trying to salvage some kind of victory in a region divided by conflict since 2014.
“They are not stopping their efforts,” he said.
‘THERE IS NO WHERE TO BURY ANYONE’
Russia said on Sunday it had targeted Ukrainian positions in the east with missiles, targeting command centers and arsenals as its forces sought to encircle Ukrainian units between Izium and Donetsk.
The Ukrainian Joint Forces Task Force said its troops repelled 17 attacks on Sunday and destroyed 11 Russian equipment, while its air defenses shot down two Russian helicopters and five drones.
Russia continued to attack civilian areas along the entire front line in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, firing at 23 towns and cities, it added.
Reuters was unable to independently confirm the reports.
Izium straddles the Donets River, about 120 km from Kharkiv on the main road in the southeast direction.
If Ukraine can keep up the pressure on Izium and Russian supply lines, it will be harder for Moscow to encircle battle-hardened Ukrainian troops on the eastern front in the Donbas.
“The hottest point is still the Izium address,” Ukraine’s regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said in comments posted on social media. “Our armed forces have gone on a counteroffensive there. The enemy is withdrawing on some fronts.”
In some areas, Russian units are now operating at less than 20 percent of their strength, Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said.