Fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine, but Eurovision win lifts spirits – The Moscow Times

Ukrainian forces were battling a fierce Russian offensive in the east of the country on Sunday after the Eurovision victory, giving the country a much-needed boost to morale.

President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Saturday that the war in his country could cause global food shortages, adding that the situation in Ukraine’s Donbass was “extremely difficult”.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, has increasingly turned its attention to the east of the country since the end of March, after failing to capture the capital, Kyiv.

Western analysts believe that President Vladimir Putin is looking to annex southern and eastern Ukraine in the coming months, but his forces appear to be facing stiff resistance.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is increasingly altering the balance of power in Europe, as Finland and Sweden prepare to abandon decades of military non-alignment to join NATO as a defense against further fearsome aggression from Moscow.

Helsinki is set to officially announce its offer of membership on Sunday.

But as the conflict that displaced millions continues into its third month, Ukrainians got a much-needed boost of optimism as a rap lullaby that combines popular and modern hip-hop rhythms won the Eurovision Song Contest.

“Stefania,” who topped a batch of superlatives at the quirky annual music event, was written by Frontman Ole Pesiuk as a tribute to his pre-war mother — but her nostalgic lyrics have taken on much meaning due to the conflict.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal now,” Psiuk said in English from the podium, referring to the underground steel mills in the coastal city where Russian troops are besieging Ukrainian soldiers.

There was also optimism from the head of military intelligence in Kyiv, who told Britain’s Sky News on Saturday that the war could reach its “breaking point” by August and end in defeat. Russia before the end of the year.

Major General Kirillo Budanov told the news network that he was “optimistic” about the current course of the conflict.

fierce fight

On the ground, the governor of the eastern Lugansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, said that Ukrainian forces prevented Russian attempts to cross the river and encircle the city of Severodonetsk.

“There is heavy fighting on the border with the Donetsk region,” Gaidai said, noting significant Russian losses in equipment and personnel.

of the objections [of phone calls]We understand it all [Russian] A battalion refused to attack because it saw what was happening.”

Aerial photos showed dozens of destroyed armored vehicles on the river bank and destroyed pontoon bridges.

British military intelligence also said that Russian forces suffered heavy losses while trying to cross the river.

She added that the high-risk maneuver reflects “the pressure that Russian leaders are under to advance their operations in eastern Ukraine.”

She added that the Russian forces “failed to achieve any tangible progress despite the concentration of forces in this area.”

In Washington, a senior US defense official said most activity is now taking place in the Donbass region.

Meanwhile, the governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Senegubov, said in a video clip on Telegram, that Ukrainian forces are launching a counterattack in the direction of the northeastern city of Izyum.

Ukraine’s General Staff said the troops managed to drive Russian forces out of Kharkiv, a priority goal for Moscow.

“The enemy’s main efforts are focused on ensuring the withdrawal of its units from the city of Kharkiv,” a spokesman said.

On Friday, Zelensky said his forces would fight to retake all occupied and under siege lands, including the devastated southern port city of Mariupol.

There, the city’s last defenders are holed up in a group of tunnels and underground bunkers in the vast Azovstal steel mills under heavy bombardment.

The United Nations and the Red Cross helped evacuate women, children and the elderly from a whey plant there earlier this month.

And Petro Andryoshenko, an advisor to the city mayor, said on Telegram that a “huge convoy” of 500 to a thousand cars had arrived in the city of Zaporizhia.

“Finally, we are waiting for our relatives from Mariupol at home,” he said.

balance of power

Sweden and Finland are preparing to join NATO, with their network operator saying Russia shut down electricity supplies overnight.

Finnish officials said the electricity supplied by Sweden made up for the losses.

Ahead of talks with NATO members in Berlin, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he was “confident that we will find a solution in the end and Finland” [and] Sweden will become a member of NATO.”

Earlier, in a phone call initiated by Helsinki, President Sauli Niinisto had a “direct and direct” conversation with Putin.

“Avoiding tensions was important,” Niinisto’s office said.

The Kremlin said Putin told it that Finland’s entry into NATO would be a “mistake”, and insisted that Russia “poses no threat to Finland’s security.”

Ukraine’s Zelensky also met with a delegation of top US lawmakers on Saturday, with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell assuring Washington’s support for the country.

“Ukrainians are fighting bravely against a psychopathic invader and have already succeeded in overcoming the skeptics’ wild dreams,” McConnell said in a statement.

“They are ready and determined to keep fighting for victory.”

food crisis

The war also has profound effects on the global economy, with wheat prices soaring in the wake of the invasion.

“Now supporting Ukraine – especially with weapons – means working to prevent global famine,” Zelensky said in his speech.

“The sooner we liberate our land and ensure the security of Ukraine, the sooner it will be possible to restore the normal state of the food market,” he said.

Before the invasion, Ukraine exported 4.5 million tons of agricultural products per month through its ports – 12 percent of the planet’s wheat, 15 percent of corn and half of the sunflower oil.

But with Russian warships cut off from the world’s ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk, and other ports, supply can only move along congested and much less efficient land routes.

India had earlier said it was ready to help fill some of the supply shortages caused by the war.

But on Saturday the country banned wheat exports without government approval, prompting sharp criticism from a meeting of Germany’s Group of Seven agriculture ministers, who said such measures would “exacerbate the crisis”.

G7 ministers urged countries not to take restrictive measures that could increase pressure on product markets.

“They spoke out against the halt in exports and also called for markets to be kept open,” said German Agriculture Minister Jim Ozdemir, whose country holds the group’s rotating presidency.