Ukraine braces for new Russian push in Donbas, says progress has been made in north


But British defense chiefs said Russia’s offensive in Donbas had “lost momentum”.

Demoralized Russian troops made no substantial gains and Moscow’s battle plan was “significantly behind schedule”, UK Defense Intelligence said.

He added that Russia may have lost a third of the ground combat forces it committed in February and was “unlikely to dramatically accelerate” its advance in the next 30 days.

Ukrainian commanders say they expect a turning point in their favor by August, but Western powers have warned the conflict will turn into a war of attrition stretching into next year.

On Sunday, NATO promised unlimited military aid for kyiv, with Germany’s Annalena Baerbock promising it “for as long as Ukraine needs it.”

“Ukraine can win this war,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg added.

The show of support came as Finland confirmed it would apply to join the alliance, throwing off decades of military non-alignment.

Within hours of Finland’s announcement, Sweden’s ruling party said it too was in favor of joining, in another notable shift in public and political opinion.

“The best thing for the security of Sweden is that we apply for membership now and that we do it with Finland,” Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said.

Stoltenberg said the alliance will seek to provide both countries with interim security guarantees while their requests are processed, including possibly increasing troops in the region.

In Berlin, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he heard “almost very strong support across the board” for the offers, despite misgivings from Turkey.

Ankara accused both Sweden and Finland of harboring Kurdish extremists, but Stoltenberg said he was not blocking their membership and was confident of finding common ground.

Moscow has repeatedly warned both countries of the consequences if they join the alliance, while insisting that the Nordic nations have nothing to fear from Russia.

In apparent retaliation, it cut off the electricity supply to Finland, with which it shares a 1,300 km border.


On the ground in Ukraine, heavy fighting continued across the country.

In Lviv on Sunday, regional governor Maksym Kozytsky said four Russian missiles hit military infrastructure near the Polish border, the first time the city has been hit since May 3.

No casualties were reported and the Ukrainian military said it had destroyed two cruise missiles over the region.

In the south, the mayor of the southern city of Mykolaiv warned residents that explosions had been heard early Monday.

In the southeastern city of Mariupol, some 600 Ukrainian soldiers remained holed up in underground tunnels and bunkers under a steel mill there, fighting a rearguard battle.

The Ukrainian military said the Russians were launching “massive artillery and air strikes”.

In his speech, Zelenskyy said that “very complicated and delicate negotiations to save our people” at the vast Azovstal plant continue daily.

Soldiers’ families have called on China to intervene to secure the release of the dead and wounded.

The United Nations and the Red Cross helped evacuate women, children and the elderly from the plant where they were sheltering earlier this month.

Petro Andryushchenko, adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said on Telegram that a “huge convoy” of 500 to 1,000 cars had arrived in the city of Zaporizhzhia.

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