Live blog: Russia presses Donbass offensive as fighting enters fourth month

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Some 20 countries offer new security assistance packages for Ukraine to battle Russian forces in a meeting of allies, as Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine completes three months with no end in sight. Western support has helped Ukraine hold off Russia’s advances in many areas — including Kiev — but Moscow is now focused on expanding its gains in Donbass and the southern coast. (AFP) Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Russia presses east offensive as conflict enters fourth month

Russia has stepped up offensive on the last pocket of resistance around Luhansk in Ukraine's east, as the conflict — which began with Moscow's February 24 incursion — entered its fourth month. 

«The coming weeks of the war will be difficult, and we must be aware of that,» Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday in his nightly address. «The most difficult fighting situation today is in Donbass,» Zelenskyy said, singling out the worst-hit towns of Bakhmut, Popasna and Severodonetsk.

The governor of Luhansk, in Donbass, said Russia has sent thousands of troops to capture his entire region and that Severodonetsk was under massive attack, warning residents that it was too late to evacuate.

At this point I will not say: get out, evacuate. Now I will say: stay in a shelter…Because such a density of shelling will not allow us to calmly gather people and come for them

Luhansk Governor Sergiy Gaidai Zelenskyy urges allies to pressure Moscow on prisoner swap

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Kiev is ready for an exchange of prisoners with Russia «even tomorrow» and called on his allies to put pressure on Moscow.

«The exchange of people — this is a humanitarian matter today and a very political decision that depends on the support of many states,» Zelenskyy said in a question-and-answer video link with audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

«It is important…to pressure politically on any level, through powerful business, through the closure of businesses, oil embargo…and through these threats actively intensify the exchange of our people for Russian servicemen.»

Russia may set up military base in Ukraine's Kherson region

The Russia-appointed administration of Ukraine's Kherson region will ask Moscow to set up a military base on its territory, Russia's RIA news agency has quoted a local official as saying.

Russia attacked Ukraine in February, seizing in particular the Kherson region which is adjacent to Crimea, the peninsula which Moscow annexed in 2014. 

«There should be a Russian military base in the Kherson region,» Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of what Russia calls the «civil-military regional administration» of Kherson, told RIA. «We will ask for this and this is what the whole population wants. This is essential and will be a guarantor of security for the region and its inhabitants.»

Russia accused of spreading disinformation

The US and Britain have accused Russia of spreading disinformation online and manipulating public opinion about the crisis in Ukraine.

Britain’s deputy ambassador James Roscoe told a UN Security Council meeting on the use of digital technologies in maintaining peace that Russia has conducted cyber-attacks and used «an online troll factory to spread disinformation and manipulate public opinion about their war».

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Russian government «continues to shut down, restrict and degrade internet connectivity, censor content, spread disinformation online, and intimidate and arrest journalists for reporting the truth about its invasion».

Lavrov:  Moscow not sure it needs resumed ties with West

Russia's foreign minister has said Moscow will consider offers from the West to re-establish ties and determine whether that is needed, but will focus on developing relations with China.

Sergey Lavrov, in a question and answer session at an event in Moscow, said Western countries had espoused «russophobia» since Russia launched its incursion into Ukraine — described by Moscow as a «special military operation».

Russia was working to replace goods imported from Western countries, he said, and in future, would rely only on «reliable» countries not beholden to the West. «If they (the West) want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, then we will seriously consider whether we will need it or not,» Lavrov said.

We must cease being dependent in any way on supplies of absolutely everything from the West for ensuring the development of critically important sectors for security, the economy or our homeland’s social sphere

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Zelenskyy: Russia aims for maximum casualties

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russia is waging «total war» on his country, and that includes inflicting as many casualties and as much infrastructure destruction as possible.

Zelenskyy made the comments in his nightly address, on the eve of the three-month anniversary of Russia's assault on Ukraine. 

In it, he noted that since February 24, the Russian army has launched 1,474 missile strikes on Ukraine, using 2,275 different missiles. He said the vast majority hit civilian targets. There have been more than 3,000 Russian air strikes over that period.

Indeed, there has not been such a war on the European continent for 77 years

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy For live updates from Mo nday (May 23), click  here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies