Russo-Ukraine War - 04 May 2022 - Day 70
On 24 February 2022, Ukraine was suddenly and deliberately attacked by land, naval and air forces of Russia, igniting the largest European war since the Great Patriotic War. The military buildup in preceeding months makes it obvious that the unprovoked and dastardly Russian attack was deliberately planned long in advance. During the intervening time, the Russian government had deliberately sought to deceive the world by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
"To initiate a war of aggression... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." [Judgment of the International Military Tribunal]
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine in response to the appeal of the leaders of the "Donbass republics" for help. That attack is a blatant violation of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Putin stressed that Moscow's goal is the demilitarization and denazification of the country.
The seventieth day of the heroic opposition of the Ukrainian people to the Russian military invasion began. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he will not accept any deal with Moscow on ending the war that would allow Russian troops to remain in currently occupied parts of Ukraine. Addressing the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit in London via videolink, Zelenskyy said he would reject any proposed ceasefire deal that would permit Russian forces to remain in their current positions, insisting Kyiv “will not accept a frozen conflict”. He warned such a move would lead to Ukraine being drawn into a “diplomatic quagmire”, citing earlier deals between Moscow and Kyiv concerning separatist-held parts of eastern Ukraine.
“I came to the presidency when there was Minsk-1, Minsk-2. There were documents that were violated, so I can say these were not serious. However, there were arrangements on paper. It was a frozen conflict. I am against it. We will definitely not have such a document,” Zelenskyy said.
Today, the top priority is the maximum expulsion of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine, but the global goal is to restore the territorial integrity of our state within internationally recognized borders, because this is what all Ukrainians want. This was stated by Zelenskyy during his participation in the session of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit. "The goal of every Ukrainian is to restore our territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders. I understand that everything at once is impossible. First, appropriate steps must be taken to stop the war, and then diplomacy will be in place," the President said.
"We understand that it will be difficult to restore territorial integrity on the temporarily occupied Crimean peninsula. And yet, I believe that we will be able to move to the diplomatic path after showing our strength. Because any war ends with diplomacy," the Head of State is convinced.
"And we are not retreating. That is, today is a new stage already. Somewhere, in some territories, we are blocked by the Russian military and equipment. There, we are waiting for the appropriate equipment to appear on our side, so that we can push and move forward. And in some areas we are moving forward already," he said.
There is no progress in the negotiation process between Russia and Ukraine, with Moscow recording messages about Kiev's desire to withdraw from the talks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "It is still hardly possible to state any dynamics on the negotiation track, rather the opposite ... And the inconsistency of the Ukrainian side has also been repeatedly stated by us at various levels. They change their position every day, but such statements are more and more often heard from Kiev. Yes, we record it too," Peskov told reporters, commenting on Kiev's plans to withdraw from the talks. The spokesman added that this inconsistency "does not inspire confidence that this negotiation process can somehow end productively."
Brazilian presidential front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said Zelenskyy and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin bear equal responsibility for the war in Ukraine, putting the leftist icon at odds with Western powers. “I see the president of Ukraine, speaking on television, being applauded, getting a standing ovation by all the [European] parliamentarians,” Lula, Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, told Time magazine. “This guy [Zelensky] is as responsible as Putin for the war,” he added.
The Kremlin dismissed speculation that Putin plans to declare war against Ukraine and initiate a national mobilisation on May 9, when Russia commemorates the Soviet Union’s victory in the Great Patriotic War. Putin has so far characterised Russia’s actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters there was “no chance” Russia’s leader would move to formally declare war against Ukraine next week, calling such suggestions “nonsense”.
The speaker of Russia’s parliament said NATO was arming Ukraine to attack Russia in January and Putin’s decision to start a “special military operation” prevented “a huge tragedy”. “NATO was preparing Ukraine for an attack on our country. How else to explain that all decisions on the supply of weapons to Ukraine were made by the US Parliament in January. Even before the start of the special military operation,” Vyacheslav Volodin wrote.
THe UK Ministry of Defence reported that Russia had deployed 22 battalion tactical groups near Izium in its attempt to advance along the northern axis of the Donbas. Despite struggling to break through Ukrainian defences and build momentum, Russia highly likely intended to proceed beyond Izium to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk. Capturing these locations would consolidate Russian military control of the north-eastern Donbas and provide a staging point for their efforts to cut-off Ukrainian forces in the region.
Russia has not succeeded in disrupting Ukrainian supply lines and its movement around the Donbas remains “stalled,” a senior US defense official said. But the official noted a significant development with Russian forces increasing strikes around Ukraine’s Lviv, where the Kremlin is looking to wipe out the power needed for railroads. “Both sides rely on the rail for resupply,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Pentagon official said that no US or other aid shipments had been hit by Russian strikes, despite the Kremlin claiming that it had previously done so and would continue to. As for US military aid to Ukraine, the official revealed that the US had so far sent 5 Soviet-era helicopters, which US President Joe Biden promised. According to the official, while the Russians reportedly shifted focus on controlling the Donbas, around 2,000 Russian forces remain around Mariupol.
The Ukrainian army conducted a “significant counteroffensive” that likely pushed Russian forces roughly 40 kilometres east of Kharkiv, the Institute for the Study of War said. This would “unhinge the Russian positions northeast of Kharkiv” and “set conditions for a broader operation to drive the Russians from most of their positions around the city,” the ISW said in its latest assessment of the Russian offensive campaign. It added that the Russian army may then face a dilemma of “whether to reinforce their positions near Kharkiv to prevent such a broader Ukrainian operation or to risk losing most or all of their positions in artillery range of the city”.
Ukraine’s defence ministry said Russia was attempting to increase the tempo of its offensive in the east of the country. Defence Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk gave few specific details but told a news briefing that Moscow’s forces had conducted nearly 50 air raids on 03 May 2022 alone. He also said Russian artillery fire and air raids were continuing periodically on the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, where the last Ukrainian defenders of the southeastern port city were holed up. The mayor of Mariupol says heavy fighting is under way at the city’s Azovstal steelworks, where Ukrainian troops have staged their final stand against Russia’s siege of the southeastern port city.
The Russians did not stop conducting offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and maintain the land corridor with the temporarily occupied Ukrainian Crimea. In order to destroy Ukraine's transport infrastructure, the Russians fired missiles at facilities in Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad, Lviv, Vinnytsia, Kyiv, Zakarpattia, Odesa and Donetsk regions.
In the Volyn and Polissya directions, the Russians did not take active action, no signs of the formation of offensive groups were found. Certain units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus continue to carry out tasks to cover the section of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border in Brest and Gomel regions. In order to check the readiness to perform the assigned tasks, one missile division of the 465th Missile Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus was moving from the point of permanent deployment to the destination area.
In the northern direction, no signs of formation of an offensive group by the Russians were found. As part of strengthening the protection of the Russian-Ukrainian border, units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation from the Central Military District had been deployed in the areas of the Novi Yurkovichi, Pohar and Lomakovka checkpoints in the Bryansk region. In the Slobozhansky direction, the Russians fired artillery and mortar shells at the city of Kharkiv and the village of Protopopivka, and conducted air reconnaissance in the area of Kutuzivka and Oleksandrivka settlements of Barvinkovsky district of Kharkiv region. The Russians tried to conduct offensive operations in the direction of the settlement of Dovgenke, but were unsuccessful.
In the Donetsk and Tavriya directions, in order to restrain action, the Russians shelled units of Ukrainian troops. In the Lyman direction, the Russians is advancing in the direction of the village of Shandrygolove, fighting continued. The Russians strengthened the group of troops and intensified air reconnaissance. The Russians carried out assaults in the area of Popasnaya, fighting continued.
In Mariupol, the Russians continue to launch air strikes and fire at Ukrainian positions in the Azovstal area. The assault on the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, where the Kyiv militants are blocked, is not being carried out, Russian troops are suppressing nationalist attempts to enter firing positions there. The press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov told reporters about this. “The order was publicly given to the supreme commanders to cancel the assault. There is no storm. We see with you that there are aggravations associated with the fact that the militants go to firing positions,” he said in response to a question about whether the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin to cancel the assault on the plant could be canceled amid the activation of Ukrainian radicals. The remnants of the Ukrainian militants at the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol are securely blocked, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
Russia says its forces would cease fire at the Azovstal steel plant and open a humanitarian corridor for civilians for three days. “The Russian armed forces will from 8 am to 6 pm [Moscow time] on May 5, 6 and 7 open a humanitarian corridor from the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant to evacuate civilians,” the defence ministry said. “The lives of the people who remain there are in danger. Everyone is important to us. We ask for your help in saving them,” Zelenskyy told Antonio Guterres by phone, after thanking him for a successful UN and Red Cross-led evacuation this week. He called on the UN to “assist in the removal of all the wounded from Azovstal”.
In the Zaporozhye direction, the Russians carried out assault operations in the direction of the settlement of Orikhiv, without success. In Horlivka, more than 100 bodies of mobilized servicemen of the 1st Army Corps who died in the Zaporizhia region were taken to the central morgue.
In the direction of the South Bug, in order to destroy the fortification equipment of Ukrainian positions, the Russians used artillery, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and armament of tanks along the entire line of contact. They intensified hostilities in the area of the settlement of Tomin Balka. The situation in the Bessarabian direction remained tense and under control. During the previous day, the air defense units of the Air Force and the Land Forces hit seven UAVs and 8 Russian cruise missiles, the data are being clarified. Twelve Russian attacks were repulsed in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the past 24 hours, six tanks, five artillery systems (three of them - multiple rocket launchers), fifteen units of armored combat vehicles and nine units of Russian vehicles were destroyed. The Russians had losses in other areas.
Russian troops killed 310 Ukrainian fighters and destroyed 36 units of weapons and military equipment, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said. “Operational tactical and army aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces hit 77 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment [of the Armed Forces of Ukraine]. Up to 310 nationalists and 36 units of weapons and military equipment were destroyed”.
“Missile troops and artillery hit the Ukrainian battery of multiple launch rocket systems BM-21 Grad, as well as 83 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment, at firing positions,” he said. He added: “Russian air defense systems destroyed six Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles during the day in the areas of the settlements of Avdiivka, Severodonetsk, Vesela Hora of the Luhansk… [region], as well as over Zmeiny Island.”
The EU intends to provide additional military equipment to the Moldovan armed forces, President of the European Council Charles Michel said. "About the military support to Moldova, some decisions have already been taken. For instance, we intend to increase our support in the field of logistics, of cyberdefence. But today, we made a discussion in order to see how we can provide more military support," Michel said at a joint press conference in Moldova with Moldovan President Maia Sandu. Public support of German heavy weapons deliveries to Ukraine has shrunk to 46 percent from 55 percent two weeks ago and 60 percent in early April, with the number of critics rising by 10 percentage points.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that any NATO vehicle coming to Ukraine with weapons or equipment for Ukrainian forces will be considered a legitimate target for destruction. "The United States and its NATO allies continue to pump weapons into Ukraine. I can confirm that any transport from the North Atlantic alliance that arrives in the country with weapons or materiel for the Ukrainian armed forces will be considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction," Shoigu. said.
Russia’s defence ministry said it disabled six railway stations in Ukraine that used to supply Ukrainian forces in the country’s east with Western-made weapons. The ministry said it bombed the stations’ power supplies using high-precision air and sea-based weapons, but did not specify exactly which weapons were supplied to Ukrainian forces via those sites.
The European Union plans to finalise the work on the sixth package of sanctions against Russia by 9 May the latest. The European Commission is considering a ban on EU providing accounting, consulting and communication services for Russian companies, among other restrictions, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said. "The Kremlin relies on accountants, consultants and spin-doctors from Europe and this will now stop. We are banning those services from being provided to Russian companies," von der Leyen told the European Parliament's plenary session. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the EU is working on the next package of anti-Russian sanctions, which aims to "de-SWIFT" more banks. EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson warned against additional restrictions concerning Russian transport sector in case the situation in Ukraine "continues to deteriorate."
Member states, however, reportedly remain disparate about the ability of the bloc to substitute Russian fuel, given its large share in the overall European consumption. Greece, Malta and Cyprus voiced doubts over a ban on transporting Russian oil to third countries, arguing that it will only help competitors of the EU. Hungary cannot support the EU’s proposed embargo on crude oil imports from Russia as that would destroy its energy security, the country’s foreign minister said. Slovakia’s economy minister said his country wants a three-year transition period for it to phase in the EU’s proposed oil embargo on Russia. Richard Sulik said Slovakia, which is highly reliant on Russian crude supplies, supported the bloc’s push but was still seeking an exemption to give it time to secure alternative supplies.
The gas storage facilities in Europe are now filled on average by 34%, and by 80% in Poland.Germany stopped the physical reverse of Russian gas to Poland via Yamal-Europe natural gas pipeline on May 2, but a virtual reversal from Italy and France arose, Gazprom's spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov said. "On May 2, Germany stopped the physical reverse of Russian gas to Poland via Yamal-Europe. However, a virtual reverse for Poland immediately arose from the applications of consumers in Italy and France, which are provided through the Polish corridor ... At the same time, this week, European consumers' demand for Russian gas in transit through Ukraine increased by an average of 43%," Kupriyanov said in a statement, published on Gazprom's Telegram channel. After refusing to buy Russian gas for rubles, Poland began to receive Russian gas through a physical reverse via the Yamal-Europe pipeline from Germany, according to the energy giant. Poland, among other things, uses this gas for injection into its underground storage facilities.
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