Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, said Russia is “insane” for trying to seize victory in Donbas.
Zelenskyy stated that he was grateful to all those who are still fighting for the Donbas and other eastern regions. He also said that Ukraine was forcing Russian occupants out of Ukraine “step by step”.
The Ukrainian military announced Saturday that Russian troops would be leaving Kharkiv after having bombarded it for several weeks.
It was based on an assessment of Washington’s Institute for the Study of War, which stated that Ukraine had “appear to have won the Battle of Kharkiv”.
Moscow had hoped to capture major cities and this was a key objective in the war.
After failing to capture the capital Kyiv in the invasion of 24 Feb, and now with a backtrack at Kharkiv. Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved his focus eastward to Donbas, an area where Ukraine has been fighting Moscow-backed separatists from 2014.
The offensive will aim to surround the most skilled and well-equipped Ukrainian troops who are stationed in the east and seize areas of the Donbas still under Ukraine’s control.
Journalists are unable to travel in the east due to artillery barrages and airstrikes, making it difficult to capture the fighting.
It appears that it is a constant back-and-forth battle with no major breakthroughs for either side.
Other important developments:
* Ukrainian forces push towards Russian-held Izium east
* Ukraine wins Eurovision Song Contest in a massive show of support from other continents
* Finland is expected to submit its NATO application Wednesday
* The G7 countries pledge more military and economic support for Ukraine
Russia has taken some Donbas villages and towns including Rubizhne. This town had a population pre-war of approximately 55,000.
But Mr Zelenskyy said his force had made progress in the east and retook six villages or towns in the last day.
He stated that “the situation in Donbas is very difficult” and that Russian troops were still trying to win the battle.
He said, “Step by Step,” and added that “we are forcing the Ukrainian occupants out of the land.”
Talks in Mariupol earlier today about getting the wounded defenders out the Azovstal plant were described as “very complicated”, but later reports claimed that a large convoy was allowed to leave Mariupol.
According to Telegram reports, between 500 and 1000 cars were allowed to travel to Zaporizhzhia.
According to Foreign Minister Pekka Haisto, Finland is set to submit its NATO application Wednesday.
Finland, historically neutral, decided to join the defensive pact after it fought the Soviets during WWII.
The diplomatic front saw US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stokenberg reaffirming their support for Ukraine and denouncing “President Putin’s ruinous war”.
They also discussed the importance NATO’s strong defense and deterrence.