fierce fighting in Donbass, “very difficult” negotiations in Mariupol. The point this Saturday morning

 fierce fighting in Donbass, “very difficult” negotiations in Mariupol.  The point this Saturday morning

“There is heavy fighting on the border with the Donetsk region, near Popasna”, commented Friday evening on Facebook Serguiï Gaïdaï, Ukrainian governor of the Lugansk region, reporting numerous losses in equipment and personnel on the side. Russian.

“It’s a horror but they are still trying to achieve their ends. But from their telephone communications, we understand that an entire battalion refused to attack because they see what is happening,” he noted.

A US defense official has confirmed that the most significant Russian activity currently takes place in the Donbass. “And basically we continue to see that the Russians are not making a significant hold” in this region, he said.

“Ukrainian artillery thwarts Russian efforts to gain ground, including their efforts to cross the Donest River […] which affects their ability to send significant reinforcements to northern Donbass,” the source continued.

The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) said on Friday that Ukrainian forces had “successfully” repelled a Russian attempt to cross this river near Severodonetsk, causing Moscow troops heavy losses.

This operation illustrates “the pressure under which the Russian commanders find themselves to make progress in eastern Ukraine”, estimated the MoD. Ten Russian attacks were repelled in 24 hours around Donetsk and Lugansk, he said.

Next annexation?

According to the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Vladimir Putin “probably intends to annex southern and eastern Ukraine to the Russian Federation in the coming months”.

“Ukraine and its Western partners probably have only a reduced window of opportunity to support a counter-offensive in the territories occupied before” their annexation, according to this body.

The situation has apparently already reversed in Kharkiv, yet one of the priority targets for the Russians. “The gradual liberation of the Kharkiv region proves that we will leave no one to the enemy,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted Friday evening in his daily message, announcing that the recovery of territories that fell into Russian hands was continuing.

“As of today, 1,015 localities have been liberated, six more in the last 24 hours,” he said. Water, electricity, communications, transport and public services have been restored there, he said, confident to keep in mind the cities and territories still under Russian occupation.

With a special thought for the 1,000 Ukrainian fighters entrenched in a maze of Soviet-era tunnels under the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, for whom “very difficult negotiations are underway on the next phase of evacuation, the seriously injured and the medical personnel”.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk referring to “negotiations with the enemy (which) are very difficult”. “We are currently negotiating (the exfiltration) of 38 seriously injured fighters. We are advancing step by step. […] There are no discussions at the moment for the release of 500 to 600 people”.

Resist to the max

Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov regiment, one of the Ukrainian formations fighting in Azovstal, appealed for help from the United States “to evacuate our wounded and (that they) mobilize all efforts to help extract of our regiment” of this encirclement

International efforts have so far proved unsuccessful in rescuing these Ukrainian soldiers defending this city 90% destroyed by Russian bombing.

In this context, the European Union pledged on Friday to provide additional aid of half a billion euros to support Ukraine’s fight, bringing it “to 2 billion euros in total”.

However, the 27 members of the European Union have still not managed to agree to gradually stop their purchases of Russian oil, Hungary having considered the waiver obtained insufficient.

All-round enlargements

An official Swedish report paved the way for the country’s membership of the Atlantic Alliance on Friday, multiplying the favorable conclusions before the decision of this Nordic country and its Finnish neighbor in the coming days, i.e. two EU members who remained decades out of military alliances. Much to the chagrin of Moscow.

Another consequence, favorable to the Kremlin this time: a pro-Russian separatist region has taken a step towards joining Russia.