They are already applauding Russian TV – 3 important developments in the war in Ukraine
Russia is making little progress in the Donbass and Vladimir Putin is using the blocked cereals as bargaining chips. On Russian television and in the Kremlin, they are already confident of victory.
1. Development at the front
The war in Ukraine lasted more than three months. The fighting moved to the east and south of the country. At first, the Russian forces were also blocked there. Now they seem to have some momentum in the Donbass.
The Russians are not advancing quickly. That’s a few miles a day at most. And yet, according to their own statements, they managed to take the strategically important town of Lyman. They also gained territory around the town of Popasna.
East #Ukraine updated:#Russian the forces continued to attack #Severodonetsk on May 29 but made no confirmed advances; Russian progress in intense urban combat will likely be slow.https://t.co/6iR9GZNwQi pic.twitter.com/0ApGpWky4t
—ISW (@TheStudyofWar) May 29, 2022
The Russians are razing entire residential areas with constant artillery fire. Not much remains of the town of Rubizhne, according to images recently released by the TAUT.
The Battle of Donbass saw Russia switch to artillery barrages that last day and night. Ukraine’s National Guard endured much of it and shared its footage with the TAUT. The video below is what’s left of Rubizhne https://t.co/JShPwrtg6E pic.twitter.com/dvquyECfSn
— Quentin Sommerville (@sommervilletv) May 30, 2022
The Russian armed forces are currently mainly focused on Sieverodonetsk. The city, with its former 100,000 inhabitants, is the last city in Luhansk Oblast not yet under Russian control. The Ukrainians are still resisting, but the city could fall in the next few days. The Russians have surrounded Sievzherodonetsk, and only one bridge leads out of town.
Sky News reporter Alex Crawford has reported on the city being very competitive in recent days. She encountered many locals who were putting their lives on the line in bunkers and cellars. The suffering, the destruction, the despair, but also the courage of the people are evident.
Oppressive images: Sky News report from Sievzherodonetsk.
The Russians have learned from their initial mistakes, noted military expert Mick Ryan wrote on Twitter. Instead of attacking on multiple fronts at once, they would focus on individual areas. Therefore, they may have some success in the Donbass. “They moved slowly and carefully, using their artillery advantage well and being careful not to make their logistics as vulnerable as they were up north,” Ryan said.
Despite the successes of Donbass, we must not forget that the Russians have so far lost the battle of Kharkiv. The Ukrainians managed to repel the Russians. The country’s second-largest city is once again so safe that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj was able to visit it over the weekend.
The Russians are not advancing in the south either. The Ukrainian armed forces even launched a counter-offensive near the town of Cherson. They could not regain much territory, as the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) writes. However, the counter-offensive could force the Russians to send reinforcements to the Kherson region, which will then be absent elsewhere.
In summary: The Russians are making slow progress in the Donbass. They are currently unable to gain territories around Kharkiv and near Cherson and in some cases even have to accept territory losses.
As fighting rages in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is on the phone with Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz. The three heads of state reportedly spoke to each other for around 80 minutes on Saturday. “The chancellor and the French president have called for an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops,” said Steffen Hebestreit, spokesman for the German government. “They called on the Russian president to engage in serious direct negotiations with the Ukrainian president and find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.”
The talks also focused on grain stuck in Ukrainian ports. Before the war, Ukraine exported up to six million tons of grains and oilseeds per month. Because of the war, it was only 200,000 tons in March this year. Russia is blocking the important port of Odessa and Ukraine has mined many port approaches to prevent Russian ships from carrying out landing operations.
As a result, the price of cereals has risen sharply. The UN Security Council estimates that 400 million people are at risk of food shortages. In a conversation with Scholz and Macron, Putin has now announced that he is ready “to find ways to export grain without obstacles”. In return, the Russian president demanded the lifting of Western economic sanctions.
3. Russians rejoice
With the grain, Vladimir Putin has strong leverage in his hand. The fear of a generalized hunger crisis has the world in suspense. Partly because of this, voices are growing louder in the West calling for a quick end to the war and calling on Ukraine to give up territory. “Negotiations must begin within the next two months, before upheavals and tensions arise which will not be easily overcome,” Henry Kissinger told the WEF last week. The former US secretary of state called for a return to the “status quo ante” when Russia officially controlled Crimea and unofficially Ukraine’s two easternmost regions, Luhansk and Donetsk.
It sounded the same a few days earlier in the New York Times. Ukraine must make “painful territorial decisions” to achieve peace, the newspaper’s editorial board wrote. A military victory is “not a realistic goal”.
However, Zelenskyy vehemently rejected possible cessions of territory to Russia. “Ukraine will fight until it gets all of its territory back,” Zelensky said in a video call in Davos.
In Russia, Kissinger’s statements were welcomed. “Neither the West nor Kyiv believe in Ukraine’s victory,” state television reported happily. Journalist Julia Davis, who follows Russian media, says the tone has changed. The Russians would feel encouraged because the West is now considering ceding territory. The content is now: “There are cracks in Western alliances! You want to negotiate! We win ! Let’s take more of Ukraine.”
Watch this to better understand what happens in Russia when they hear peacemakers calling on Ukraine to cede territory to Russia in the name of an imaginary peace. Spoilers: they grow bolder and want more, from Ukraine and the West.https://t.co/h5urxg6Qhu pic.twitter.com/JBDumS2JkX
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) May 28, 2022
The Kremlin is also optimistic, reports independent Russian news portal Meduza. “In the end, we will crush them,” said a source close to the government. “All of this will probably be finished in the fall.”
According to the report, Kremlin officials believe the West will not maintain its massive military and financial support for Ukraine. Another source told the news portal: ‘Sooner or later Europe will get tired of helping. It’s about money and weapons that they themselves need. As fall approaches, they [mit Russland] have to negotiate for gas and oil before the arrival of the cold season.”