Ukraine denounces ‘massive’ Russian missile bombing of Belarus

Ukraine denounces ‘massive’ Russian missile bombing of Belarus

Ukraine said on Saturday (25) that a “massive bombardment” with Russian missiles hit its territory and that it was launched from Belarus, a Kremlin ally that, despite providing logistical support to Moscow, is not officially involved in the conflict, which has entered its fifth month.

“Massive missile bombardment hit the Chernihiv region,” said the Northern Command of Ukrainian troops.

“Twenty rockets hit the city of Desna, launched from Belarusian territory [e também] from the air,” he said, adding that the attacks hit infrastructure but left no casualties.

Despite not being involved in the conflict with Ukraine, Belarus provided logistical support to Moscow’s troops, especially in the first weeks of the Russian offensive, which began on 24 February.

“Today’s bombing is directly related to the Kremlin’s efforts to lure Belarus into the war in Ukraine as a co-belligerent,” the directorate general of Ukrainian intelligence services under the Defense Ministry said on Telegram.

The attack comes ahead of Saturday’s meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in St Petersburg.

Ukraine’s western allies, on the other hand, will meet from Sunday at a summit of the G7 – the world’s biggest economies – in Germany. Faced with a conflict that risks prolonging itself in time, members of NATO, of which Ukraine is not a part, will meet in Madrid next week.

Severodonetsk and Lysychansk

During these meetings, Western countries will take stock of the effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus and will study possible new aid for Ukraine.

This Saturday, the Spanish government announced a new plan of direct aid to its population of 9 billion euros. The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, said in a press conference that, added to a first package of measures of 6 billion euros approved in March, these direct aids would represent, by the end of the year, around 15 billion euros, “ more than one point of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”.

Kiev insists it needs more weapons to neutralize advancing Russian troops and “stabilize” the situation in eastern Donbass, where heavy fighting is taking place. This “will allow us to stabilize the situation in the most threatened region of Luhansk,” Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said on Friday.

The situation is especially difficult in the industrial city of Severodonetsk, which has been 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 nearby Lysychansk, which is almost surrounded. The situation is grim for the inhabitants who have decided to stay.

Liliya Nesterenko explains that her house has no gas, water and electricity, so she cooks with her mother over a campfire. However, this 39-year-old is optimistic. “I believe in our Ukrainian army, they must [ser capazes de] face [os russos]”, he says.

Both Severodonetsk and Lysychansk are instrumental in controlling eastern Ukraine, which has been partly controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

Experts emphasize that the withdrawal of Ukrainian soldiers from Severodonetsk does not necessarily mean a fundamental change on the ground.

slow war

“The big picture – a slow war of entrenched positions – has hardly changed,” Ivan Klyszcz, a researcher at the Estonian University of Tartu, told AFP.

“The withdrawal was probably planned in advance and could be considered tactical,” he said, stressing that Ukrainian resistance allowed Kiev to consolidate its rearguard.

Ukrainian forces are consolidating “their forces in positions where they can best defend themselves,” a US Pentagon official said on condition of anonymity.

Mikolaivka, for example, about 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 nearby town, he added.

Further south, in Donetsk, the other region that together with Luhansk makes up the Donbass, “no town” in the area is “safe”, its governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Thursday.

Russia claimed to have killed “up to 80” Polish fighters in a bombing raid in this area, specifically in Konstantinovka, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday. In northern Ukraine, Russia has also stepped up its attacks on Kharkiv in recent days, where explosions were heard early on Saturday.

In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have tried to recover lost cities in the south. In Kherson, for example, under Russian control, a high command installed by Moscow was killed in an attack with explosives placed in his car, according to a pro-Russian official.

Russia’s Weakness

The Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its fifth month with no signs of ending anytime soon. On Thursday, the leaders of the European Union’s 27 member states agreed to give Ukraine candidate status for membership of the bloc, a symbolic moment celebrated by its president Volodymyr Zelensky.

But for the Russian government, the decision is a Western ploy to contain Moscow geopolitically. The decision “confirms that the taking of the CIS space [Comunidade de Estados Independentes, que agrupa várias ex-repúblicas soviéticas] continues actively in order to contain Russia,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

These Kremlin condemnations only “show the weakness” of Russia, Ukrainian diplomat Dmytro Kuleba reacted on Twitter.

Source: AFP

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