Russo-Ukraine War - 25 May 2022 - Day 91
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. 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 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]
Video on social media apparently shows Russian T-62M and T-62MV tanks that had been pulled from storage being delivered by rail to Ukraine. This seemed to confirm a Ukrainian government report that Russia had been forced to return these antiquated vehicles to active service in an attempt to replace huge tank losses. Russian T-62M and T-62MV tanks are in Russian-controlled Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. They will use them as a police force in the huge occupied territories, not at the front. Michael Kofmann stated: "The T-62s are for reservist units. Activating them implies reservists will be called up and sent. It doesn’t mean Russia is out of other types of tanks in storage. Those are expected to replace losses in the active force."
"The question is with whom Ukraine will negotiate, with which President of Russia. And it also depends on the willingness of the incumbent President of Russia," said Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The Head of State stressed that the current President of Russia is not fully aware of the real picture of events in Ukraine and in the world. And only when the Russian leader understands the scale of the disaster caused by the war will there be grounds for diplomatic negotiations. "There is one person - the President of the Russian Federation. When he is ready to realize the reality and understand that many innocent people are dying, he will understand the necessity to talk and end this war started by the Russian Federation, no one else," said the President of Ukraine.
At the same time, with each day of the war, with each new war crime of Russian soldiers, the willingness to negotiate in Ukrainian society will decrease, said Volodymyr Zelenskyy. "When Ukraine says that it will fight until it regains all its territories, it means only one thing: that Ukraine will fight until it regains all its territories. This is about independence and sovereignty," the Head of State stressed.
"We can move to this stage when we understand that at least the Russian side shows a desire to move from the stage of bloody war to diplomacy," said Volodymyr Zelenskyy. According to the President of Ukraine, such a step could be the withdrawal of Russian troops to the positions that existed before February 24, 2022. But so far, he sees no interest in negotiations on the part of the Russian Federation.
Henry Kissinger the previous day called on the West to stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russian troops in Ukraine If the veteran of Realpolitik does not trust Zelensky, then let him believe the Ukrainians, 82% of whom are not ready for territorial concessions in order to end the war. The most interesting results for Mr. Kissinger and Moscow are in the east of Ukraine, where the most intense fighting is currently going on. 68% of respondents there opposed any concessions to the aggressor. In the south of Ukraine, this percentage is 83%.
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) stated "The whole line about Ukraine who has to make concessions to stop the war failed in between 2014-2022. It was about convincing Ukraine to be more constructive, to engage Russia. It never worked & brought us to the biggest war in Europe since WWII.” Presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said agreeing to give up territories is impossible and would only backfire as Russia would use the pause in fighting to prepare for further offensives.
The head of the office of Ukraine’s president said that there is only one way to prevent the war in Ukraine from escalating: “Help Ukraine win.” Andrii Yermak told a panel at Davos that Ukrainian leaders “keep hearing calls for capitulation for the sake of peace in Europe”. But “history teaches us that pacifying an aggressor is futile. They always take peacefulness for weakness. They demand more with every next concession,” Yermak said. “Therefore, there is only one way to prevent the war in Ukraine from escalating into a continental and even world war: Help Ukraine win. Now, you don’t have to wage this war. Just help us do it. Otherwise, you’ll have to. You’ll have to send your troops to the battles,” he added.
Mikhail Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine, called "a stab in the back" proposals to Kyiv from some Western partners to make territorial concessions to resolve the Ukrainian conflict. "There can be no greater stab in the back than proposals to give away part of the territories from those whose values and borders are defended by Ukrainians," he wrote in his Telegram channel. According to him, "certain political mouths" are offering Kyiv a ceasefire, freezing the conflict and "surrendering part of the territories for the sake of peace." “What can you offer to protect your comfortable social media feed from bad news and resume business with Russia. “We want to return the old, pre-war way of life. Agree to some compromises" - in some Western eyes you can literally read this," says Podolyak. The adviser to the head of Zelensky's office claims that Kyiv is being offered to give Russia the eastern and southern territories. "Thanks for the advice, but we'll probably take help with weapons," he summed up.
Ukraine has to be able to negotiate with Russia from a position of strength so that Moscow is not encouraged to take further aggressive action, Estonia’s prime minister said. “We must avoid a bad peace, a badly negotiated peace for Ukraine would mean a bad peace for us all,” Kaja Kallas said in a speech while on a visit to Stockholm, Sweden. “It is much more dangerous giving in to Putin, than provoking him. All these seemingly small concessions to the aggressor lead to big wars. We have done this mistake already three times: Georgia, Crimea and Donbas,” she added.
A spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry described a peace plan for Ukraine put forward by Italy as a “fantasy”. “You can’t supply Ukraine with weapons with one hand and come up with plans for a peaceful resolution of the situation with the other,” Maria Zakharova said at her weekly briefing, referring to the Italian initiative. “If they hope that the Russian Federation will seize on any Western plan, then they haven’t understood much,” she added. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio gave the broad outlines of the plan last week and said that he had discussed it with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a visit to New York.
Russian forces have likely abandoned efforts for a single large encirclement of Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine and are instead attempting to secure smaller encirclements. This enables them to make incremental measured gains, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said. “Russian forces are likely attempting to achieve several simultaneous encirclements of small pockets of Ukrainian forces in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts: the broader Severodonetsk area (including Rubizhne and Lysychansk), Bakhmut-Lysychansk, around Zolote (just northeast of Popasna), and around Ukrainian fortifications in Avdiivka,” the ISW said. Although they begin advancing efforts in these different encirclements daily, Russian forces “haven’t achieved any major ‘breakthroughs’ or made major progress towards their stated objectives of securing the Donetsk Oblast borders or seizing all of Donbas,” the institute added.
Russian forces will additionally likely face protracted urban combat if they successfully encircle Severodonetsk (as well as in other large towns like Bakhmut), which Russian forces have struggled with throughout the war. Russian forces are making greater advances in the past week than throughout the rest of May - but these advances remain slow, confined to smaller objectives than the Kremlin intended, and face continued Ukrainian defenses; they did not constitute a major breakthrough.
The ninety-first day of the heroic opposition of the Ukrainian people to the Russian military invasion continues. The Russian's main efforts are focused on defeating the Allied Forces and trying to establish full control over the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Here the Russians tried to overcome the resistance of the units that are part of the Allied forces, in order to create favorable conditions for the offensive.
The Russians attempted offensive and assault operations in the Severodonetsk and Bakhmut areas in the areas of the settlements of Berestov, Lypovo, and Nirkovo. Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has reached the limits of the key eastern city Ukraine of Severodonetsk, the regional governor said, describing the combat as "very difficult". "Russian troops have advanced far enough that they can already fire mortars" on the city, Lugansk governor Sergiy Gaiday said in a statement on social media, adding that, "yesterday there was already fighting on the outskirts of the city." Gaidai gave a short update on the situation in the eastern region. “The situation in Donbas is extremely bad … The shelling does not stop at all,” he said on his Telegram channel.
The main events take place on the Lugansk fron. The situation of the Severodonetsk grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is worse day by day - in addition to the ongoing fighting in the city itself, allied units cut the road between Bakhmut (Artemovsk) and Lisichansk in Belogorovka and Nagorno. Thus, the Armed Forces of Ukraine had only one supply route left - through Seversk. According to Kadyrov, the troops entered the outskirts of Lisichansk. Krasny Liman, which is already more than half controlled by Russian troops. The flag of the Russian Federation appeared over the administration building, the Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to squeeze through the southern outskirts of the city. Units of Ukrainian troops were also driven out of Maslyakovka and Blue Lake located near Liman. Raised the Russian tricolor in Svetlodarsk, on the eve left by the Ukrainians without a fight. But the tests did not end there - the Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to hold on to the Uglegorsk TPP, the explosion of which will flood several villages, and in addition, the outskirts of Svetlodarsk were shelled. Fighting continued today near Zolote, from the south, although comrades claim that the actions of the RF Armed Forces are aimed rather at encircling the fortified area, rather than storming it.
Russian troops reached the Bakhmut-Lysychansk road, taking positions on it about 2km north of Soledar. The Russians cutting the T-13-02 highway near Soledar would further complicate Ukrainian logistics/resupply situation and threaten all other major ground lines of communication to the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area. a further Push toward Bakhmut from South/West can be expected. The Lysychansk-Bakhmut road is not blocked. Access to Lysychansk and Severodonetsk is available. In the afternoon, the media began to spread the news that the occupiers had allegedly cut off the “road of life”.
Lugansk governor Sergiy Gaidai also said that the Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway – whose seizure by Russian forces would cut Luhansk from the rest of the country – was under fire. While Russian soldiers had managed on the prevoius day to set up checkpoints on the road, he added, today it was not blocked.
Ukraine’s defence ministry said its forces were battling to remain in control of a key highway to the front-line city of Severodonetsk, in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. Defence ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said in a briefing that alternative routes existed to supply Ukrainian units defending the city, which is enveloped on three sides by Russian forces. He added that Russia’s aim was to fully surround Ukrainian troops there, as well as in the nearby city of Lysychansk.
The Russians focused their main efforts on the Bakhmut direction, trying to develop success in the Lyman direction. In addition, the Russian occupiers continued to actively prepare for offensive operations in the Novopavlovsk and Zaporozhye areas. In the Volyn and Polissya directions, compared to the past, the situation is unchanged. At the end of May 2022 at the ranges in Brest, Vitebsk, Grodno, practical actions of units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus are planned to be held in Minsk and Mogilev oblasts. According to available information, the plan of these measures envisaged the withdrawal of weapons and military equipment and the implementation of marches.
In the northern direction, the Russians continued to cover the Russian-Ukrainian border in the Bryansk and Kursk regions. In order to prevent the transfer of units of Ukrainian troops to other areas, the Russians fires on civilian and military infrastructure in the border areas. In the Slobozhansky direction, the occupiers are carrying out systematic high-intensity fire in the areas where Ukrainian troops are concentrated. Units of the aggressor fired at civilian infrastructure in the areas of settlements of Krasnopillya of the Sumy region, and also Ternov, Ruski Tyshki, Dovhenke and Nova Dmytrivka, Kharkiv region.
The Russians were trying to improve the tactical position of its units in the areas of Izyum and Slovyansk. He made attempts at assault and offensive operations in the districts of Dovhenky, Kharkiv region, and Bogorodichne, Donetsk region, had no success, and withdrew. On the Kharkov front, the Armed Forces of Ukraine tried to recapture the lost positions in Ternovaya and Rubezhnoye - it did not work out, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation hold a bridgehead, but so far they are not moving forward. It is reported that the Russian grouping is being strengthened on this front, and there is talk of strengthening in the Chernihiv and Sumy directions.
On the Donetsk front there was still combat tension - there are still fights near New York, Novobakhmutovka, Krasnogorovka. Near Avdiivka, the Ukrainians fiercely resists, fortified positions help him in this. In the Donetsk direction, the Russians inflicts artillery and air strikes in the Lyman and Komyshuvakha districts of the Donetsk region and Severodonetsk and Novozvanivka in the Luhansk region.
In the Avdiivka direction, the Russian occupiers carried out unsuccessful assaults in the areas of the settlements of Krasnohorivka, Kamyanka, Avdiivka and Pisky. The Russians carried out air strikes and artillery shelling in the Marinka, Mykilsky, Poltavka and Orikhov districts. In the South Bug direction, Russians units tried to improve the tactical position in the direction of Mykolayiv and ensure access to the administrative borders of the Kherson region. The Russians fired on the positions of Ukrainian troops and civilian infrastructure in the areas of Novooleksandrivka, Trudolyubivka, Novopavlivka, Blagodatny and Posad-Pokrovsky.
Russian aviation hit two depots of missile and artillery weapons and 46 areas of concentration of troops of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry reported. Missilemen and artillerymen hit about 500 targets of the Armed Forces of Ukraine per day. The Russian Armed Forces destroyed at the Pokrovskoye station the subdivisions of the reserve of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which were transferred to reinforce the grouping of Ukrainian troops in the Donbass.
"During the day, high-precision air-launched missiles hit three command posts, including the command post of the 14th mechanized brigade and a communication center in the Vrubovka and Bakhmut areas, the radio engineering center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine near the settlement of Dneprovskoye, Mykolaiv region," Konashenkov said. Also, according to him, the logistics center of the 72nd motorized infantry brigade in the Soledar region, two fuel bases in the Kharkiv region, two air defense radar posts and military equipment at a storage base near the village of Bakhmut and 16 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were hit.
Ukraine’s foreign minister said the urgency of his country’s weapons needs can be summed up in two abbreviations – MLRS and ASAP, meaning multiple-launch rocket systems and as soon as possible. Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Dmytro Kuleba warned the situation in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region was “extremely bad”. He said he had conducted about 10 bilateral meetings with other officials whose countries possess MLRS. “The response I get is, ‘Have the Americans given it to you already?’” Kuleba said, alluding to US leadership. “So this is the burden of being a leader. Everyone is looking at you. So Washington has to keep the promise and provide us with multiple launch rocket systems as soon as possible. Others will follow.” “If we do not get an MLRS ASAP, the situation in Donbas will get even worse than it is now,” Kuleba added. “Every day of someone sitting in Washington, Berlin, Paris and other capitals, and considering whether they should or should not do something, costs us lives and territories.”
Defence Minister Anita Anand announced that Canada will donate over 20,000 artillery rounds of 155 mm NATO standard ammunition, including fuses and charge bags, to further support Ukraine’s military in their response to Russian invasion. This ammunition will be fired from guns, including M777 howitzers that Canada and allies have donated to Ukrainian forces, and for which Canadian Armed Forces members provided training.
Lithuania will transfer 20 M113 armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine, as well as military trucks and de-mining vehicles, the country’s defence ministry said. The vehicles are worth a total of 15.5 million euros ($16.5m), the ministry said in a statement. Lithuania has previously provided military support to Ukraine worth 100 million euros ($107m), it added.
The Russians continued to suffer losses of personnel and military equipment. Information is regularly received about the concentration of a significant number of wounded servicemen of the armed forces of the Russian Federation in medical institutions of settlements bordering on Ukraine.
Roberta Mezzola, President of the European Parliament: “I am absolutely convinced that Ukraine can be a candidate country for EU membership. If a country shares the core values and principles on which Europe stands and fights for them, why should Europe not open its doors wide to such a country? Why do we need to hide behind different laws for decades again? It's just a matter of political will… While Ukraine is waging this war, we must be sure that the platform we will offer is to open the door, not close it. "
The UK Ministry of Defence reported that there had been no significant merchant shipping activity in or out of Odessa since the start of the war. Russia's subsequent naval blockade of key Black Sea ports has deterred the commercial shipping industry from operating in the area. Ukraine’s overland export mechanisms are highly unlikely to substitute for the shortfall in shipping capacity caused by the Russian blockade. As a result, significant supplies of Ukrainian grain remain in storage unable to be exported. Fighting has already placed indirect pressure on global grain prices. While the threat of Russia's naval blockade continues to deter access by commercial shipping to Ukrainian ports, the resulting supply shortfalls will further increase the price of many staple products.
Russia is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine, in return for the lifting of some sanctions, the Interfax news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko as saying. The UK rejected Russia's offer to unblock Ukrainian ports in exchange for lifting sanctions. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Moscow’s proposal “blackmail,” adding that those politicians who may think of accepting it should first visit the graves of killed Ukrainian children. "This is clear blackmail. You could not find a better example of blackmail in international relations," Kuleba said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
An adviser to the mayor of Mariupol says officials believe at least 22,000 people were killed during months of fighting in the now Russian-occupied southeastern port city. Petro Andryushchenko, who has fled to Ukrainian-held territory, told CNN the toll was based on information provided by Ukrainian officials still residing in the city. He added he believed the true number of fatalities could be much higher. Andryushchenko said the process of burying those killed had been complicated by Russia’s insistence that reclaimed bodies be brought to a morgue and that a person claiming a body must agree to record a video in which the applicant says the deceased was killed by the Ukrainian military.
Since the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine, the Russian Armed Forces claim to have destroyed 1,006 unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as 178 aircraft and 126 helicopters. "In total, since the beginning of the special military operation, the following have been destroyed: 178 aircraft, 126 helicopters, 1,006 unmanned aerial vehicles, 322 anti-aircraft missile systems, 3,258 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 430 multiple rocket launchers, 1,671 field artillery pieces and a mortar , as well as 3,155 units of special military vehicles.
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