The essentials in brief:
- Kyiv speaks of the highest daily loss for Russia
- Next martial law in Ukraine
- European Union invites Selenskyj to Brussels
- Largest refugee movement since World War II
- Reports on the use of chemical weapons in eastern Ukraine
The Russian military has recorded its deadliest day since the invasion began, according to Ukrainian sources. The armed forces in Kyiv said there had been heavy Russian losses in attacks in eastern Ukraine in the past 24 hours. A total of 1,030 Russian soldiers fell; the number of Russian forces killed since the outbreak of war has risen to 133,190. Observers assume that both sides in the war report lower casualties among their own fighters and higher casualties on the enemy’s side than they actually are.
For weeks, fighting has focused on the eastern districts of Luhansk and Donetsk, particularly the Ukrainian-held town of Bakhmut. Russian troops claim to have almost surrounded the city. Also, further south, Moscow has launched an attack on Wuhledar, a Ukrainian-held bastion on high ground at the strategic intersection of the eastern and southern front lines. The military leadership in Moscow spoke of a “successful” development.
The British Ministry of Defense, on the other hand, said, citing intelligence information, that Russia was unlikely to be able to deploy the forces necessary to significantly influence the outcome of the war in the coming weeks. Moscow lacks ammunition and maneuvering units.
Zelenskyj: “We oppose them”
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Bakhmut’s defenders who continued to resist. He also reported on new staff appointments. “In a number of regions, especially in the border and frontline areas, we are hiring managers with military experience,” said Zelenskyy. These are the military “who can defend themselves most effectively against the current threats”.
In general, military experience from the course of the war so far should be combined with management work in the local and central administration. In addition, the formation of new brigades of the National Guard, the police and the border guard is progressing.
With a clear majority, the Ukrainian parliament extended the martial law imposed because of the Russian invasion by a further 90 days. According to media reports in the Rada in Kyiv, 348 MPs voted for the fifth extension. 226 votes would have been necessary.
General mobilization was also extended. With a few exceptions, men of draft age between 18 and 60 are still subject to an exit ban. The regulation is provisionally valid until May 20th. In connection with reports of massive casualties, more and more videos have recently appeared showing how passers-by in Ukrainian cities were being handed out draft notices.
European Union invites Selenskyj to Brussels
The Ukrainian President could travel to Brussels later this week. There is a possibility that an extraordinary session of the European Parliament will take place on Thursday, in which Zelenskyj will personally take part, according to EU circles. On the same day, the heads of state and government of the EU countries will meet in Brussels. It was said that Zelenskyy would then also attend the summit as a guest. A spokesman for EU Council President Charles Michel confirmed that he had been invited. He declined to provide any further information “for security reasons”.
Just last week, Selenskyj welcomed EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to a summit in Kyiv. It was also about Ukraine’s desire to join the European Union as quickly as possible.
A visit to Brussels would be Selenskyj’s second trip abroad since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began almost a year ago. In December he traveled to Washington and gave a speech before the US Congress.
Guterres fears further escalation of the war
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that the war in Ukraine could escalate. “I’m afraid the world isn’t sleepwalking into a major war – I’m afraid it’s doing so with eyes wide open,” Guterres told the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Barely a year after Russia’s invasion of its neighboring country, the prospect of peace is diminishing, and the danger of further escalation is growing. The risk of nuclear war is higher than it has been in decades.
Guterres recalled that the so-called doomsday clock, which researchers use to draw attention to the dangers to humanity, advanced to 90 seconds before midnight in January because of the Ukraine war – as far as never before. He sees this as a warning sign.
Largest refugee movement since World War II
UN emergency aid coordinator Martin Griffiths pointed out the consequences of the Russian war of aggression for the Ukrainian population in the United Nations Security Council. Almost eight million people have fled the attacks and fighting from Ukraine to neighboring countries, said the head of the UN emergency relief office in New York. Another 5.3 million are internally displaced, Griffiths said. Many would have sought protection in collective accommodation.
He also drew attention to the countless people who stayed in basements for days or even weeks to be safe from bombs. Large parts of the infrastructure, including schools, residential buildings or hospitals up to entire towns and villages have been destroyed. “There is no sign of this violence abating,” Griffiths said in his speech to the UN’s highest body. More than 7,000 civilians have been killed, according to official UN figures, but the actual number is certainly higher, Griffiths said.
According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, this war led to the largest refugee movement since the Second World War. According to the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, 17.6 million or almost 40 percent of the population needed humanitarian aid. Griffiths announced that he would present this year’s plan for Ukraine aid in Geneva in February. Funds of 3.9 billion dollars are required for this.
Reports on the use of chemical weapons in eastern Ukraine
Russia says it is investigating reports of the use of chemical weapons by Ukrainian forces. The State Investigative Committee relied on information from the internationally unrecognized “Donetsk People’s Republic”, which was incorporated into the Russian Federation in violation of international law in 2022.
Members of the Russian armed forces had health problems and characteristic symptoms of poisoning, it said. No evidence was presented, nor were details of the symptoms or the suspected toxin given.
Stark-Watzinger assures Ukraine support
During a visit to Kyiv, the German Education Minister, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, promised Ukraine further aid for schools and universities. “We see that the reconstruction of Ukraine does not start tomorrow, it started yesterday,” said the FDP politician. Near the front line, lessons are still only possible digitally. Germany wants to help with this. In addition, research collaborations should be continued.
According to Stark-Watzinger, 203,000 Ukrainian children are currently studying in schools in Germany. In addition, 7,000 Ukrainian students are enrolled at German universities. “These young people are the future not only of Ukraine, but of the whole of Europe,” stressed the minister.
jj/uh/wa/bru/AR/qu (dpa, afp, rtr, ap)
This article will be continuously updated on the day of its publication. Reports from combat zones cannot be independently verified.