“The situation in the Donbass remains very difficult. Russian troops are trying to achieve at least one victory there,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged on Saturday, adding: “Little by little, we are forcing the occupiers to leave our lands.”
An increasingly critical humanitarian situation
Russian forces are striving to advance in this strategic eastern region, partly controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, and which Moscow has made its main objective since the withdrawal of its troops from around kyiv at the end of March. “We are preparing for major offensives in Severodonetsk, and around the Lysytchansk-Bakhmut axis,” said Serguiï Gaïdaï, Ukrainian governor of the Lugansk region, describing an increasingly critical humanitarian situation. “The Lugansk region is constantly under chaotic fire (…) there is absolutely no gas, water or electricity,” he said on Saturday evening.
For three weeks, the Russians have been trying in particular, and without success, to cross the Severskyi Donets river, at the level of the village of Bilogorivka, in the Lugansk region. In this almost deserted village, an AFP team saw the roads strewn with abandoned military equipment. Only three soot-covered corners remained of a school that was bombed a week ago, a strike that kyiv touts as one of the gravest crimes committed by Russian forces since they began their invasion of Ukraine, along with 60 civilians killed.
No “meaningful catch”
In the east, the Russians are failing to make a “meaningful hold”, said a US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The situation also seems to have changed around Kharkiv, the country’s second city.
Russian forces had to withdraw from several localities northeast of the city, according to the Ukrainian General Staff.
But, according to the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), “Ukraine and its Western partners probably have only a small window of opportunity to support a counter-offensive in the territories occupied” by the Russia. Vladimir Putin “probably intends to annex southern and eastern Ukraine to the Russian Federation in the coming months”, according to this institute.
Eurovision, a symbolic success
But, after 80 days of war, his country’s victory at the Eurovision Song Contest has galvanized the Ukrainian president, more determined than ever to win on the battlefield as well. “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe”, reacted Zelensky, after the triumph of a Ukrainian group, Saturday evening in Turin.
Several European leaders have followed suit, hailing this highly symbolic success of Ukraine in this competition, very popular in Europe, and from which Russia was excluded. This victory is a “clear reflection not only of your talent but also of Europe’s unwavering support alongside Ukraine”, said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, for his part, wanted the 2023 edition of Eurovision to be held “in kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”, while the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, recalled: “The EU is with you”.
“Victorious Chorus in the Battle Against the Enemy”
Euphoric after the decision of thousands of European viewers in favor of the Kalush Orchestra group, Zelensky immediately compared this victory with the military victory, of which he says he is more than ever convinced. “I am sure that our victorious choir in the battle against the enemy is not far away,” he said, promising to organize “one day” Eurovision in a “free, peaceful and rebuilt” Mariupol. , in reference to this martyr city where the last Ukrainian fighters are entrenched in the Azovstal steelworks.
“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal”, launched on stage the singer of the Kalush Orchestra, Oleh Psiuk, whose performance was applauded.
According to Petro Andryushchenko, deputy mayor of Mariupol, a large convoy of 500 to 1,000 cars, which had been waiting to pass for three days, was finally authorized on Saturday to reach Zaporijjia, a city under Ukrainian control located some 230 km from Mariupol.
letelegramme Fr Trans