Russia, at war with Ukraine since February 24 and now very active militarily in the Donbass region, announced on Saturday May 21, 2022 to suspend its gas exports to Finland, and, at the same time, to have destroyed a convoy of Western weapons destined for Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky considered that only the “diplomacy” would end the war. For his part, his American counterpart Joe Biden signed the law providing colossal aid of 40 billion United States to kyiv.
Here are the highlights of this Saturday, May 21, 2022, the 87th day of war in Ukraine.
Map of the situation in Ukraine this Saturday, May 21, 2022. © Infographie Ouest-France
Russian offensive continues in eastern Ukraine
In the Donbass basin, partly controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu assured that the conquest of the Lugansk region was “almost complete”. According to Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandre Motouzianyk, “The Russian occupation forces are carrying out intense fire along the entire front line”. Important offensives are “confined to the Severodonetsk area”says the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Three people were killed on Friday and five injured on Saturday in the Donetsk region, according to its governor Pavlo Kyrylenko who spoke on Telegram on Saturday. For his part, the governor of the Kharkiv region (north-east), Oleg Sinegoubov, reported a death toll of one dead and 20 wounded following numerous artillery fire targeting several localities around Kharkiv .
In the northwest of the country, in Rivne, a Russian missile also targeted a “military infrastructure”, said on Telegram the governor of the region, Vitaliï Koval. A city close to the Polish border which has been very rarely attacked since the start of the war.
Moscow says it destroyed weapons supplied by the West
A large shipment of Western weapons supplied to the Ukrainian army in the Donbass region has been destroyed in northwestern Ukraine, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
This equipment, supplied by the United States and European countries, was the target “high-precision long-range Kalibr missiles launched from the sea” near “from Malin station, Zhytomyr region”he said.
Russia suspends gas supplies to Finland
The Russian energy giant Gazprom announced on Saturday the suspension of its gas deliveries to Finland. This decision follows Helsinki’s refusal to pay in rubles.
After the introduction of Western sanctions, Vladimir Putin had demanded that buyers of Russian gas from countries “unfriendly” to pay in rubles from accounts in Russia. On the list of these countries “unfriendly” include the United States, European Union member countries, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, South Korea, Norway, etc.
The Nordic country, which angered Moscow by deciding to apply for NATO membership, thus joins Poland and Bulgaria among the countries to which Gazprom cut gas because they refused to pay in rubles. Since mid-May, Finland has already been deprived of Russian electricity exports.
Zelensky believes in a ‘diplomatic’ end to the conflict
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with his country’s private television channel ICTV that “the end of the conflict will be diplomatic”. The war “will be bloody, it will be fighting, but it will end definitively via diplomacy”, he said, assuring that 700,000 Ukrainian fighters were fighting against Russia.
He said he wanted “let it all come back” as before, while the talks between Moscow and kyiv are at a standstill. Both sides accuse each other of lacking understanding and good will to move the dialogue forward. Volodymyr Zelensky recalled having laid down as a condition for the continuation of the talks the fact that the Ukrainian soldiers entrenched in the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol (south-east) are not killed by the Russian army. “They will be brought home”, he promised. He also said without further details that discussions are taking place with France, Turkey and Switzerland regarding the fate of the port city.
Moreover, President Zelensky said on Saturday that any alternative to Ukraine’s candidacy for the European Union would be a ” compromise “ with Russia, in response to the project of the “European political community” proposed by his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. “We don’t need alternatives to Ukraine’s candidacy for the European Union (EU)”he told reporters in kyiv alongside Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
Washington offers kyiv $40 billion in aid
President Joe Biden signed during his trip to South Korea the law providing a gigantic envelope of 40 billion dollars (37.8 billion euros) for the Ukrainian war effort against Russia. Adopted Thursday by Congress, the law includes six billion dollars (5.6 billion euros) to allow Ukrainian forces to equip themselves with armored vehicles and strengthen their anti-aircraft defense.
On Twitter, Volodymyr Zelensky said to himself ” grateful “. This “support” is ” crucial ” and this help “important”, ” more necessary than ever » underlined the Ukrainian president.
Russia denies its territory to Joe Biden
Moscow announced on Saturday its decision to ban access to its territory to 963 Americans, including President Joe Biden, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CIA Director William Burns, in retaliation for similar sanctions imposed by Washington since the offensive in Ukraine. The list made public by Russian diplomacy mainly includes government officials, parliamentarians, but also personalities such as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman.
These bans are mainly symbolic given the sharp deterioration in relations between Russia and the United States since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine on February 24.