Russia regroups to attack Kyiv as it tightens its grip on Mariupol
Russia is regrouping its forces for a new offensive on the Ukrainian capital kyiv, according to Ukrainian military officials, as it seeks to cut off the northern cities of Chernihiv and Sumy.
Russian forces have also continued to tighten their grip around Mariupol, the Azov Sea port in southeastern Ukraine which has been under fierce Russian artillery shelling for more than two weeks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for comprehensive peace talks with Moscow, warning that it will take several generations for Russia to recover from its losses in the war.
“The time has come to meet. Now is the time to speak up,” Zelensky said in a video address to the nation. “It is time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be so great that it will take you several generations to recover.
As Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its fourth week, its offensive appears to have stalled on multiple fronts, slowed by logistical challenges, tactical missteps and intense Ukrainian resistance.
Although he made some progress in the south, where he captured the port city of Kherson early in the war, his advance was halted near Mykolaiv, a town on the Bug estuary which is an important center shipbuilding and one of the main transport hubs of Ukraine.
Russia has been forced to “change its operational approach and is now pursuing a strategy of attrition”, according to the British Ministry of Defence.
“This will likely involve the indiscriminate use of firepower, leading to increased civilian casualties, destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure and an escalation of the humanitarian crisis,” the defense ministry said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday it used its hypersonic Kinzhal missile to hit a target in Ukraine for the first time, saying it struck an ammunition storage facility in the west of the country on Friday. Hypersonic weapons can travel faster than five times the speed of sound.
“The Kinzhal aircraft missile system with hypersonic ballistic missiles destroyed a large underground storage facility for missiles and aircraft ammunition of Ukrainian troops in Delyatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region,” the doorman said. -spokesman of the Ministry, Igor Konashenkov.
An update from the Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces were trying to cut off the cities of Chernhiv to the north and Sumy and Kharkiv to the northeast.
The Russians were also “trying to regroup their combat units” near kyiv in preparation for a new offensive on the capital, and were preparing to attack the northeastern towns of Trostyanets and Okhtyrka.
But the general staff said that Russia had “failed” in its main objectives, which included encircling kyiv and “establishing control over the left bank part of Ukraine”, it is i.e. the eastern half of the country.
More than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, triggering the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. António Guterres, UN secretary-general, said the war was “disrupting supply chains and driving up the prices of fuel, food and transport”.
“We must do everything we can to avoid a hurricane of hunger and a collapse of the global food system,” he said.
One of the main objectives of the Russian offensive is Mariupol, which is surrounded and under constant bombardment by Russian troops. Local officials say the fighting has reached the city center and heavy shelling has prevented humanitarian aid from entering.
Thousands of people in Mariupol – which had a pre-war population of 460,000 – have been forced to live in shelters, without electricity, heat and mobile services and without food or water.
Earlier this week, the Russian Air Force bombed Mariupol’s main municipal theater, which had served as a shelter for the city’s civilian population. Authorities said more than 130 people were rescued from the rubble, but hundreds were missing and may still be in the building.
Capturing Mariupol would give the Russians control of the entire northern coast of the Sea of Azov, cutting off Ukraine from a crucial conduit to the Black Sea and allowing Moscow to form a land corridor to Crimea, the peninsula that illegally annexed to Ukraine in 2014.
The Ukrainian General Staff said Friday evening that Russian forces had “partially succeeded in the Donetsk theater, temporarily depriving Ukraine of access to the Sea of Azov”.
Additional reporting by Felicia Schwartz in Sofia