Day 111 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Russia’s Main Goal is to Protect the Separatist "Republics"
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
The Kremlin says the main goal of the war is to protect separatist "republics"
“Russia's main goal in its military operation in Ukraine is to protect the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics”, RIA Novosti reported, quoting Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
"In general, the defense of the republics is the main goal of the special military operation," Peskov said.
The DPR and LPR are two Russian-backed self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine that Moscow says it is struggling to break them completely out of Kyiv's control.
The dire situation in Sievierodonetsk
The "human cost" of the battle for Sievierodonetsk, a strategic city in eastern Ukraine, is "appalling," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said today as Russian forces advanced in recent days to seize the city without being able to place it entirely under their control.
"The human cost of this battle is very high. It is simply appalling," Zelensky said.
Meanwhile, Russian troops have destroyed the last bridge to Sievierodonetsk, which could evacuate civilians or deliver humanitarian aid, Luhansk Oblast Governor Serhiy Haidai said, adding that nearly 70 percent of the city was under Russian control.
“Fierce fighting continues. With the support of artillery, the enemy is conducting assault operations in Sievierodonetsk, trying to fortify itself in the city center”, said the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, quoted by UNIAN.
However, the city is not blocked and part of it is under Ukrainian control. However, communications in Sievierodonetsk could not be restored before winter, even if the Russian invaders were driven out very quickly.
The occupiers continue to shell Lysychansk.
Negotiations with Russia
“Ukraine is ready to sit at the negotiating table with Russia, but on the condition that the enemy really wants to end the war”, said President Vladimir Zelensky in an interview with ZDF, quoted by UNIAN. “We do not have time for conversations that do not work”, he stressed.
According to Mikhail Podolyak, head of the president's office, Russia wants talks now because of its position in eastern Ukraine, where intense fighting is currently taking place.
Zelensky: “We will liberate Crimea”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has promised his compatriots that Ukraine will regain the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia, the DPA reported.
"The Ukrainian flag will once again fly over Yalta and Sudak, over Dzhankoi and Evpatoria," Zelensky said in a daily evening video message in Kyiv yesterday.
"Of course, we will liberate Crimea," the president said, adding that the battle for Donbas would be the fiercest in European history.
Scholz assured Ukraine of arms aid
“Germany will continue to help Ukraine with weapons”, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a news conference in Berlin.
"Ukraine needs weapons to defend itself. And at this particularly critical stage, we are significantly expanding our support," Scholz said. He recalled that in early June he promised to supply Ukraine with IRIS-T air defense systems and radar station. No new arms deliveries have been announced in Berlin since.
Scholz faces criticism over Germany's alleged slow arms deliveries to Ukraine. The Chancellor has repeatedly rejected such statements. According to him, military aid to Kyiv, including from Germany, has contributed to the republic's defense capabilities. Germany has also decided to supply the Kyiv authorities with 12 PzH 2000 howitzers, and Ukrainian troops are currently being trained to use them. On May 18, the Ministry of Defense announced that Germany, as part of a so-called roundabout, would deliver 15 Leopard 2 A4 tanks to the Czech Republic for it to transfer this military assistance to Ukraine.
Ukraine continues to call on the West to supply more heavy weapons for the defense of Sievierodonetsk. Kyiv says the battle for the city is crucial to control of Donbas and the course of the war, which has entered its fourth month.
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