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Live blog: Ukraine's Donbass 'unconditional priority' for Russia – Lavrov

  • 29 May 2022

Russia stepped up its assault on Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk after claiming to have captured nearby rail hub of Lyman, as Kiev calls for longer-range weaponry from West to fight in Donbass as the conflict enters 95th day.

Other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. ( AFP )

Sunday May 29, 2022

Lavrov says Donbass 'unconditional priority' for Moscow

The "liberation" of Ukraine's Donbas is an "unconditional priority" for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, RIA news agency has cited Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying.

"The liberation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, recognised by the Russian Federation as independent states, is an unconditional priority", Lavrov said in an interview with French TV channel TF1, according to RIA.

For the rest of the territories in Ukraine, "the people should decide their future in these areas," he said. 

All critical infrastructure in Ukraine's Sievierodonetsk destroyed: Zelenskyy

Russian shelling has destroyed all of the critical infrastructure in the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

"As a result of Russian strikes on Sievierodonetsk, all the city's critical infrastructure is destroyed... More than two-thirds of the city’s housing stock is destroyed", Zelenskyy said in a televised speech.

"Taking Sievierodonetsk is the principal aim of the occupying contingents", he added.

EU seeks to break deadlock on Russian oil ban before summit

Ambassadors from the 27 European Union member states have examined a compromise that could enable them to break the deadlock on a Russian oil embargo ahead of an emergency summit in Brussels this week.

The bloc's officials fear the absence of an agreement will cast a shadow over the two-day meeting starting on Monday between European leaders.

The latest round of proposed sanctions by the EU has been blocked by landlocked Hungary, which has no access to seafaring oil cargo ships. Hungary is dependent for 65 percent of its oil needs on Russian crude.

Several blasts heard in Ukraine's Kharkiv after Zelenskyy visit

Several explosions have been heard in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv hours after a visit by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was making his first trip outside of the Kiev region since the start of Russia's offensive, a Reuters journalist has said.

A large plume of dark smoke could be seen rising northeast of the city centre. 

Kharkiv has been subjected to Russian shelling in recent days after several weeks of relative quiet.

The visit marks Zelenskyy's first official appearance outside the Kiev region since the start of Russia's offensive in Ukraine.(Reuters)

Zelenskyy visits front line in first visit outside Kiev region

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has visited Ukrainian troops on the front lines in Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region, the President's office announced.

The visit marks his first official appearance outside the Kiev region since the start of Russia's offensive in Ukraine on February 24.

"You risk your lives for us all and for our country," the President's office website cited him as saying to the soldiers, adding that he handed out commendations and gifts.

30,150 Russian troops killed since start of conflict - Ukraine

At least 30,150 Russian soldiers have so far been killed during the conflict in Ukraine, the Ukrainian General Staff has said, adding that some 150 Russian troops have been killed over the past 24 hours. 

It added that Ukrainian forces have destroyed 207 planes, 174 helicopters, 1,338 tanks, 3,270 armoured vehicles, 631 artilleries, 203 rocket launchers, and 93 air-defence systems since the start of the conflict.

Russia has also lost 2,240 vehicles, 13 ships and light boats, and 504 unmanned aerial vehicles along with 116 cruise missiles, the statement added.

Pope 'hails' President Erdogan’s efforts to end Ukraine conflict

Pope Francis has appreciated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's efforts to reconcile Ukraine and Russia, Türkiye's envoy to the Vatican has said.

"The Pope expressed his gratitude to Türkiye, which has been in contact with both sides since the beginning of the conflict and has been working for peace," Ambassador Lutfullah Goktas said on Twitter, recounting his meeting with Francis to discuss Russia's offensive in Ukraine.

"The only possible way to establish a ceasefire and begin negotiations is through diplomacy," Goktas said, adding that he was "extremely pleased to observe that the Pope, who has been closely following our President's reconciliation efforts, is also sharing the same sensitivities with our country."

Ukraine: Fighting for Sievierodonetsk continues

Fighting for the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk continues with Russian forces conducting assault operations, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces has said.

"With the use of artillery, Russian forces carried out assault operations in the area of the city of Sievierodonetsk," the General Staff said in a statement on its Facebook page.

"The fighting continues."

Kremlin: Russia, Serbia agree on further gas supplies

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic have agreed in a phone call that Russia will continue supplying natural gas to Serbia and the two countries will bolster their partnership, the Kremlin said.

The two leaders also discussed the issue of Ukraine and Kosovo, according to the Kremlin.

Russia's Gazprom continues shipping gas to Europe via Ukraine

Russian gas producer Gazprom has said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point stood at 44.1 million cubic metres, up from 43.96 on Saturday.

An application to supply gas via another major entry point, Sokhranovka, was rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said.

Russia says destroyed arsenal of Ukrainian army in Kryvyi Rih

The Russian defence ministry has said that Russian missiles destroyed a large arsenal of the Ukrainian army in the city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, state news agency TASS reports.

The defence ministry also said Russian anti-aircraft defence systems shot down a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet in Dnipro region, TASS reported.

Russia squeezes, situation 'very difficult' — Zelenskyy

Russia pressed on with its attacks on eastern Ukraine, saying it had captured the strategic town of Lyman and claiming to have surrounded the urban center of Severodonetsk.

"The situation is very difficult, especially in those areas in Donbass and Kharkiv region, where the Russian army is trying to squeeze at least some result for itself," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his evening address.

"The town of Krasny Liman has been entirely liberated from Ukrainian nationalists," the Russian Defence Ministry said, using Moscow's name for Lyman and confirming an announcement made a day earlier by pro-Moscow separatists.

But a Ukrainian official denied Moscow's claim that Severodonetsk had been encircled, saying government troops had repelled Russian forces from the outskirts of the key city.

For live updates from Saturday (May 28), click here

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