War day at a glance: Kyiv reports Russian territory gains – Sweden and Finland push to join NATO

War Day at a Glance
Kyiv reports Russian territory gains – Sweden and Finland push to join NATO

According to Ukraine, Russian troops are advancing in the east of the country. Phosphorus bombs would apparently fall on the occupied Azov steelworks after the victory of the Ukrainian ESC. Sweden and Finland are about to join NATO. The 81st day of war at a glance.

Ukraine reports phosphorus bombs after ESC victory

The frontline in Donbass, eastern Ukraine, has shifted in favor of Russia. This is according to information from the Ukrainian army. Russian forces had advanced in some places. Russia is also expected to gather forces in Izyum. According to Ukraine, it launched a counter-offensive which was partially successful.

According to Ukrainian sources, the Azov steelworks in the port city of Mariupol, Russia, was hit by phosphorus bombs. “Hell has come to earth. To Azovstal,” Mariupol City Council Deputy Petro Andryushchenko wrote on Telegram. These incendiary bombs ignite on contact with oxygen and cause devastating damage; their use is prohibited. The commander of the Donetsk separatist “Vostok” brigade, Alexander Khodakowski, and Russian war correspondents, in turn, reported attacks with incendiary rockets. Both sides released aerial footage video showing fire raining down on the plant. Andryushchenko also posted images showing inscriptions on bombs. As a result, the Russian military reportedly reacted to Ukraine’s victory in the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC).

Meanwhile, several wives of the last fighters entrenched there described in an interview the catastrophic conditions in Azowstal. There is only one glass of water per person per day, said one of the women. She and the others again called for the evacuation of all entrenched fighters—first the seriously wounded among them. Their situation is “terrible”: Some have arms or legs missing, there are hardly any drugs or narcotics.

For the first time in recent days, military infrastructure was also the target of fire in the west of the country. Nothing was initially known of the dead or injured, as announced by the head of the Ukrainian military administration, Maxym Kosyzkyj, on Telegram. The extent of the destruction is under investigation. An object near Javoriv – presumably around the military training area there – was reportedly completely destroyed. It was therefore the first time in about a week that there was an air alert in the Lviv region near the Polish border. In the situation report of the Russian army, there was initially no information about this.

Stoltenberg believes Ukraine victory is possible

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg believes that Russia’s defeat in the war against Ukraine is possible. “Ukraine can win this war,” the Norwegian said after the consultations in Berlin. The war in Ukraine is not going as planned in Moscow. The offensive in the Donbass is at a standstill and the Russians are withdrawing from the Kharkiv region. Moreover, the planned conquest of kyiv failed. “Russia is not achieving its strategic goals,” Stoltenberg added. Ukraine is still standing and NATO is stronger than ever.

British military intelligence also sees the Russian offensive in Donbass in eastern Ukraine falling far behind the original schedule. “Under current conditions, it is unlikely that Russia will be able to significantly accelerate its advance in the next 30 days,” said a status report. Russia may have lost around a third of the ground forces deployed for the invasion in February. “Despite small initial advances, Russia has made no substantial territorial gains in recent months, while continuously suffering heavy losses.”

Sweden and Finland aspire to join NATO

Meanwhile, Finland and Sweden were making progress in their bids for NATO membership. In Stockholm, the Social Democrats in power came out in favor of such a motion. Parliament should follow suit. In Helsinki, President Sauli Niinistö officially announced that his country would apply for membership. He informed Russian President Vladimir Putin of his decision on Saturday. The government in Moscow has announced that it intends to take revenge if the two countries join NATO. However, Russia did not name any concrete measures. Niinisto told US broadcaster CNN there were no threats during his recent conversation with Putin. “Overall, however, the discussion was, how should I say, very calm and cool.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after a NATO meeting in Berlin that he expected the two countries to join soon, despite critical tones from Turkey. There is broad support for this within NATO and further discussions between Turkey and the two Scandinavian countries. “I am very confident that we will find a consensus here.” Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg stressed that both countries had received security guarantees during the transition period until the completion of the accession process.

Turkey had been skeptical this weekend. In particular, she has criticized both countries for years for their relationship with organizations that Turkey calls terrorist, including the militant Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and the movement of Islamist cleric Fethullah Gülen.

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