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The military situation in eastern Ukraine is even worse than people say it is, said Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as Russian forces continue to advance on the Donbas.
Kuleba made the statement during a live Q&A session with Twitter users in which he also said the country needs heavy weapons now to fight Russia effectively and said peace talks with Moscow were not going on. out really.
Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar told a news conference that the fighting in the east had reached “maximum intensity”, with Russian forces storming positions simultaneously.
“We have an extremely difficult and long stage of struggle ahead,” he said.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who had a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 26, said during the call that he did not feel a shred of hope for peace.
Draghi said at a news conference that he felt a willingness on Putin’s part to try to find a solution to the international food crisis.
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According to the Kremlin, Putin told Draghi that Russia “is ready to make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis by exporting grain and fertilizers on the condition that the restrictions imposed by the West for political reasons be lifted.” .
The United Kingdom immediately accused Russia of “trying to keep the world afloat,” insisting that there would be no easing of sanctions.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Putin had “essentially armed hunger and food shortages among the world’s poorest people.”
Speaking during a visit to Sarajevo, he said that any appeasement “will simply make Putin stronger in the long run”.
The White House said there were no talks on easing sanctions on Russia for securing grain exports.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russian forces are currently blocking Ukrainian Black Sea ports, endangering the world’s food supply.
The international community has called on Russia to unblock ports and allow the export of Ukrainian grain.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has proposed a corridor to allow foreign ships to leave the ports of the Black Sea and another to allow ships to leave Mariupol in the Sea of Azov.
Kuleba said his country was willing to agree on safe brokers in principle, but was unsure whether he could trust Russia.
The issue is how to ensure that “Russia will not violate the safe passage agreement and its military ships will not enter the port and attack Odessa,” he said.
Russian forces briefly reached the last highway of two key cities they have tried to encircle as Western leaders reiterated that Putin will not win the war.
Russian forces bombed 40 cities in the easternmost pocket that Kyiv still had in the Donbas, the Ukrainian military said on May 26.
The Russians were advancing on the key twin cities of Syevyerodonetsk and Lysychansk, which are on either side of the Siverskiy Donets River, with fighting reaching the limits of Syevyerodonetsk.
Serhiy Hayday, the governor of the Lugansk region, acknowledged that Ukrainian forces were withdrawing, but said the last road out of Lysychansk and Syevyerodonetsk remained out of Russian control.
“The Russian army has launched all its forces into the fight to capture the Luhansk region. There is heavy fighting on the outskirts of Syevyerodonetsk in one direction. They are simply destroying the city.” Hayday said.
Hayday said in an interview on social media that “about 50” Russian soldiers had arrived on the highway linking Lysychansk with Bakhmut, controlled by Ukraine, and “had managed to settle for a while” before being “launched” back”.
Hayday said Ukrainian forces “are slowly retreating to more fortified positions” and said more retreats from Ukraine would follow as “we must win the war, not the battle”.
The head of the local civil and military administration in Syevyerodonetsk said the city had been under “constant fire” for the past week and a half and that 90% of homes had been damaged by fighting.
Oleksandr Stryuk, speaking on Ukraine’s NV radio station, said it was believed that there were still between 12,000 and 13,000 people in the city who had a pre-war population of 100,000, many of them refugees. in the basements.
The fall of the two cities would leave the entire Luhansk region under Russian control, one of the goals of the Kremlin in its war.
A senior U.S. Department of Defense official said in a briefing on May 26 that Russian forces had made progressive progress in the northeastern Donbas region.
The strategy of encircling the entire Donbas region has not worked, the official said, so the Russians have begun trying to pinch elements of the eastern end of Ukrainian forces between Syevyerodonetsk and Popasna. It is still an effort to encircle and cut off Ukrainian forces, but on a smaller scale, the official said.
The official also gave an account of the equipment losses of Russian forces in the war so far, saying that “they were not insignificant”.
The losses included nearly 1,000 tanks, 350 pieces of artillery, nearly three dozen fighter jets and more than 50 helicopters. But the official said the Russian army still has a lot of capacity left.
Despite its current momentum, Russia cannot win, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz he told the World Economic Forum in Davos on 26 May.
Scholz said that three months into the war, “the capture of all of Ukraine seems further away now than at the beginning of the war.”
“Putin must not win his war, and I am convinced he will not win,” Scholz said.