Ukraine stated this Saturday that a “massive bombardment” with Russian missiles reached its territory and that it was launched from Belarus, an ally of the Kremlin that, despite providing logistical support to Moscow, is not officially involved in the conflict, which entered its fifth month.
“A massive missile bombardment hit the Chernigov region,” said the Northern Command of the Ukrainian troops.
“Twenty rockets were aimed at the town of Desna, launched from the territory of Belarus [y también] from the air,” he added, adding that the attacks hit infrastructure, but left no victims.
Although not involved in the conflict with Ukraine, Belarus has provided logistical support to Moscow’s troops, especially in the first weeks of the Russian offensive, which began on February 24.
“Today’s bombing is directly related to the Kremlin’s efforts to draw Belarus into the war in Ukraine as a co-belligerent,” the general directorate of the Ukrainian intelligence services, under the Defense Ministry, said on Telegram.
The attack occurs before the meeting this Saturday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, in Saint Petersburg.
Ukraine’s Western allies, on the other hand, will meet starting Sunday at a summit of the G7 — the world’s largest economies — in Germany.
And in the face of a conflict that risks prolonging itself over time, the members of NATO, of which Ukraine is not a part, will meet in Madrid next week.
During these meetings, Western countries will take stock of the effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus and will study a possible new aid to Ukraine.
kyiv insists that it needs more weapons to counteract the advance of Russian troops and “stabilize” the situation in Donbas, in the east, where intense fighting is taking place.
This “will allow us to stabilize the situation in the most threatened Lugansk region,” Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian armed forces Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said on Friday.
The situation is especially harsh in the industrial city of Severodonetsk, bombed by Moscow for weeks and where Ukrainian troops were ordered to withdraw on Friday.
“(…) 90% of the city is damaged, 80% of the houses will have to be demolished,” said the governor of the Luhansk region, where the city is located.
Moscow forces are also focusing their offensive on neighboring Lysychansk, which is nearly surrounded. The situation is bleak for the inhabitants who decided to stay.
Liliya Nesterenko explains that her house has no gas, no water, and no electricity, so she cooks with her mother over a campfire. However, this 39-year-old is optimistic. “I believe in our Ukrainian army, they should [ser capaces de] face [a los rusos]”, He says.
Both Severodonetsk and Lysychansk are key to controlling eastern Ukraine, controlled in part by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
Experts stress that the withdrawal of Ukrainian soldiers from Severodonetsk does not necessarily mean a fundamental change on the ground.
“The general view — a slow war of entrenched positions — has barely changed,” Ivan Klyszcz, a researcher at the Estonian University of Tartu, told AFP.
“The withdrawal was probably planned in advance and can be considered tactical,” he said, stressing that the Ukrainian resistance has allowed kyiv to consolidate its rear.
Ukrainian forces are consolidating “their forces in positions where they can better defend themselves,” a US Pentagon official said on condition of anonymity.
Mikolaivka for example, some 20 km southwest of Lysychansk, is already in the hands of the Russian army, according to Governor Gaidai. And now they are trying to “conquer Hirske,” a neighboring town, he added.
Further south, in Donetsk, the other region that together with Lugansk makes up Donbas, “no city” in the area is “safe,” its governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on Thursday.
Russia claimed to have killed “up to 80” Polish fighters in a bombardment in this area, specifically in Konstantinovka, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
In northern Ukraine, Russia has also intensified its attacks on Kharkov in recent days, where explosions were heard early on Saturday.
And in recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have tried to recapture lost towns in the south. In Kherson, for example, under Russian control, a high command installed by Moscow was killed in an attack with explosives planted in his car, according to a pro-Russian official.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine reaches its fifth month with no signs of ending any time soon. On Thursday, the leaders of the 27 member states of the European Union agreed to give Ukraine accession candidate status, a symbolic moment celebrated by its president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
But for the Russian government, the decision is a Western maneuver to contain Moscow geopolitically. The decision “confirms that the seizure of CIS space [Comunidad de Estados Independientes, que agrupa a varias exrepúblicas soviéticas] is actively pursuing, in order to contain Russia,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zajarova said.
These condemnations of the Kremlin only “show the weakness” of Russia, the head of Ukrainian diplomacy, Dmytro Kuleba, reacted on Twitter.