LRussian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said on Sunday May 22 that Russia was ready to resume peace talks with Ukraine, assuring that their suspension was due to kyiv. “For our part, we are ready to continue the dialogue,” said Vladimir Medinski, Kremlin adviser in charge of negotiations with kyiv, in an interview with Belarusian television. “The freezing of the talks was entirely an initiative of Ukraine”, he added, believing that the “ball was in their court”. “Russia has never refused negotiations,” he said.
Russia continued its shelling of eastern Ukraine on Saturday and claimed to have destroyed a stockpile of Western-delivered weapons with cruise missiles, as US President Joe Biden signed legislation for massive new aid of 40 billion dollars in Kyiv. According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the current phase of the war, where the Russians are concentrating their efforts in the East, “will be bloody”, but in the end it will have to be resolved “through diplomacy”.
“Discussions between Ukraine and Russia will inevitably take place,” Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainian television ICTV on Saturday, while the talks that began in Turkey a few weeks ago had so far remained a dead letter. He said he was once again ready, if necessary, for a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Volodymyr Zelensky noted that the military situation had “not changed significantly” on Saturday “but it was very difficult”. “The situation in Donbass is extremely difficult,” he insisted. But the Ukrainian army “pushes back this offensive. Every day our defenders disrupt Russian plans brings us closer to the crucial day, […] that we all desire and for which we fight. Victory day. »
An envelope of 40 billion dollars in support of Ukraine
The Ukrainian General Staff noted in its daily morning update on Sunday that the Russian army was continuing “its missile and air strikes throughout the territory”, and had even “increased the intensity by using aviation to destroy infrastructures crucial”. Russia claimed to have struck a large stockpile of weapons supplied by the West to Ukraine.
“Long-range, high-precision Kalibr missiles, launched from the sea, destroyed a large consignment of arms and military equipment supplied by the United States and European countries, near Malin railway station, in the Zhytomyr region,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. It was not possible to verify this information from an independent source.
For his part, Joe Biden signed, during an official visit to Seoul, the law adopted Thursday by Congress providing a gigantic envelope of 40 billion dollars in support of Ukraine, in particular for its war effort. Volodymyr Zelensky hailed on several occasions on Saturday this release of aid “today more necessary than ever”.
Severodonetsk under fire from bombs
Moscow immediately released a new list of 963 American personalities banned from entering Russia. These “counter-sanctions” aim to “constrain the American power in place, which tries to impose on the rest of the planet a neocolonial “world order” […] to change its position and recognize new geopolitical realities,” according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
On the ground, after failing to take control of kyiv and its region, Russian troops have been concentrating their efforts since March on eastern Ukraine, where fighting is intense. According to Serguiï Gaïdaï, Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region, “the Russians are throwing all their efforts to capture Severodonetsk” where the strikes “have been multiplied several times in recent days”.
“The city is being destroyed, as before they destroyed Rubizhne and Popasna”, he denounced on Saturday evening, saying that the Russian forces had destroyed the Pavlograd bridge “which will greatly complicate the evacuation civilians and deliveries from humanitarian trucks”. Ukrainian police said they had evacuated around 60 people, including children, from a bombed church in Bogorodychné, adding that there were no casualties.
Russian army retreats in Donetsk and Luhansk regions
Further north, Kharkiv region governor Oleg Sinegoubov said nearby towns had been targeted by heavy artillery fire in the past 24 hours, which left one dead and 20 injured. Kharkiv is the second largest city in the country, close to the Russian border. In the Severodonestk region, the Russians carried out offensives and assaults on several localities, but “they were forced to withdraw to the old positions” and suffered “losses”, according to the Ukrainian general staff on Sunday morning .
“Nine attacks have been repelled in the past 24 hours in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” he said, listing the destroyed Russian equipment (tanks, artillery systems, armored vehicles, an Orlan-10 drone, among others). In the martyr city of Mariupol (south-east), largely destroyed, nearly 2,500 men from the Ukrainian forces have taken themselves prisoner this week, according to the Russians.
These resisters, entrenched for weeks in the bombed steel complex Azovstal after the city was taken by the Russians, “will be brought home”, promised Volodymyr Zelensky on ICTV, succinctly referring to discussions with France, Turkey and the Switzerland on this.
Russia will “study” the possibility of exchanging fighters from the Ukrainian Azov regiment taken prisoner for Viktor Medvedchuk, reputed to be close to Vladimir Putin, said Russian deputy and negotiator Leonid Slutsky on Saturday. Viktor Medvedchuk, 67, is a Ukrainian politician and wealthy businessman who was arrested in mid-April in Ukraine while on the run.
Martial law and general mobilization in place until August
In addition, Ukraine is at the initiative of a resolution which must be submitted to the assembly on Sunday of the 194 members of the World Health Organization. It must denounce the attacks perpetrated by Moscow on the health system, but also condemn the extremely serious consequences of the invasion and the blockade of the Ukrainian ports on the world supply and the explosion of the price of cereals.
She will also be present in discussions at the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland, which begins on Monday after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19. Volodymyr Zelensky will be the first head of state to make a speech by videoconference on Monday. Many Ukrainian politicians will make the trip in person. On the other hand, the Russians were excluded.
At the same time, kyiv – like a large part of world observers – expects a conflict which could be long-lasting. Martial law and general mobilization were extended on Sunday for three months, until August 23. In two votes, the Ukrainian parliament, the Rada, on Sunday approved by an absolute majority the presidential decrees on martial law and general mobilization. The Ukrainian president had signed these two decrees on February 24. This is the third overtime since the start of the fighting.