Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Ukrainian general says war will be over by year’s end

Ukrainian Major General Kyrylo Budanov has said he believes his country’s war with Russia will be over by the end of the year.

“The breaking point will be in the second half of August,” he said in an exclusive interview with Sky News. “Most of the active combat actions will be completed by the end of this year.”

“As a result, we will renew Ukrainian power over all our territories that we have lost, including Donbass and Crimea,” he added.

The comments mark the most accurate prediction of the end of the war by a senior Ukrainian official.

Budanov, who is Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, also said a coup was already underway in Russia to overthrow President Vladimir Putin.

He said Russia’s defeat in Ukraine “will ultimately lead to the change of leadership of the Russian Federation. This process has already started and they are moving in this direction.”

—Katrina Bishop

Russian forces withdraw from Kharkiv, says Ukraine

Civilians walk past an old checkpoint in Kharkiv, Ukraine on May 12, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian forces are withdrawing from the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine announced in an operational update on Saturday.

“The Russian enemy did not carry out active hostilities in the direction of Kharkiv. Its main efforts were concentrated on the withdrawal of its troops from the city of Kharkiv, the maintenance of occupied positions and supply routes”, said Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesman for the army’s general staff. Ukrainian Armed Forces, said in an address on YouTube, according to a translation by NBC News.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has come under heavy bombardment since Russia began its full-scale invasion in late February.

But the Ukrainian resistance has moved quickly in recent days, making territorial gains and driving the Russians out of town.

On Friday, the Pentagon said Ukraine was continuing to make progress in recovering towns and villages around Kharkiv.

“We have seen progress on their part in bringing Russian forces closer to the border and away from Kharkiv,” the official, who requested anonymity, said in a call with reporters.

—Katrina Bishop

Moscow will react if NATO brings nuclear forces closer to Russian border

Moscow will take adequate precautionary measures if NATO deploys nuclear forces and infrastructure closer to the Russian border, Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying on Saturday.

“It will be necessary to react (…) by taking adequate precautionary measures which would guarantee the viability of the deterrent”, declared Grushko, quoted by the Interfax agency.

Moscow has no hostile intentions towards Finland and Sweden and sees no “real” reasons for these two countries to join the NATO alliance, Grushko added.

He also reiterated the Kremlin’s earlier statement that Moscow’s response to a possible NATO expansion will depend on how close the alliance moves military assets to Russia and what infrastructure it deploys.

Finland’s plan to seek NATO membership, announced on Thursday, and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would lead to the expansion of the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent.


Rigged referendums ‘central element’ of Russian strategy in Ukraine, UK ministry says

A soldier inspects a damaged classroom on May 8, 2022 in Kherson Oblast, Ukraine. Most of the region remains occupied by the Russians.

John Moore | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A request by authorities in Kherson, Ukraine, to join the Russian Federation is part of Moscow’s strategy to use rigged votes to bring Ukrainian regions under Russian control, the British Ministry of Defense said on Saturday.

“A central part of Russia’s original invasion plan was very likely to use rigged referendums to place the majority of Ukrainian regions under long-term pro-Russian rule,” the ministry said in a regular statement. information update.

The Kherson administration, which was imposed by Russia after its troops took control of the city in March, this week formally demanded that the Kherson region be incorporated into Russia.

“The fact that Russia succeeded only in imposing a pro-Russian local leadership in Kherson highlights the failure of the Russian invasion to advance its political goals in Ukraine,” the British ministry said.

Russia will “almost certainly” manipulate the results of any referendum held in Kherson to decide whether to leave Ukraine, the Defense Ministry has said.

The Russian Defense Ministry was not available for immediate comment.

Kherson sits on the Dnipro River near the Black Sea, just about 97 km from Crimea, which Russia recaptured when it last invaded Ukraine in 2014.

Invading Russian troops took control of Kherson at the start of the current war, but Ukrainians living there have nonetheless staged public protests against the occupation.

Ukraine’s military said in March that Russian troops used stun grenades and gunfire to disperse at least one such protest.

Moscow says its troops are not targeting civilians, despite overwhelming evidence that they have done so in Ukraine.

—Ted Kemp

War in Ukraine is about ‘future’ of Western countries, says Zelenskyy

Ukrainian infantrymen train May 9 in an area north of Kherson Oblast, most of which is controlled by Russia.

John Moore | Getty Images News | Getty Images

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that although the Ukrainians are doing everything they can to drive out the Russians, “no one today can predict how long this war will last.”

“It will unfortunately not only depend on our people, who are already giving their all,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation. “It will depend on our partners, on European countries, on the whole of the free world.”

He said he was grateful to everyone working to strengthen sanctions against Russia and increase military and financial support for Ukraine. “It’s the only recipe to protect freedom from Russian invasion. And for Western countries, it’s not just an expense. It’s not a question of accounting, it’s a question of coming.”

Zelenskyy said Ukraine shot down the 200th Russian aircraft of the war on Friday and he noted Russia’s heavy losses in tanks, armored vehicles, helicopters and drones.

“And what for? So that the statue of Lenin can stand a little longer in the temporarily occupied Genichesk? There is and can be no other result for Russia.”

In April, Russian forces restored the statue of Lenin in Genichesk, a town in the southern Kherson region.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine was engaged in “very difficult negotiations” to try to evacuate injured fighters trapped in the Mariupol steelworks. “We are talking about a large number of people. Of course, we are doing everything to evacuate everything else, every one of our defenders. We have already brought into the world all those who can be the most influential mediators.”

Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces had recaptured towns and villages from Russian troops. He said work was underway to restore electricity, running water, telephone communications and social services.

— Associated Press

Russia suspends electricity exports to Finland

Russian utility company Inter RAO will cease electricity exports to Finland from Saturday, the company’s Finnish subsidiary announced.

RAO Nordic, the subsidiary that imports electricity from its Russian parent company, said it would stop supplying Finland as it has not received payment from Finnish sources in recent days.

“We are forced to note that for the volumes that have been sold on the Nord Pool exchange since May 6, the funds have not yet been credited to our bank account,” the company said in a statement. “This situation is exceptional and has occurred for the first time in more than twenty years of our commercial history.”

Electricity imports to Finland will be halted from 1 a.m. local time “for the time being,” Finnish grid operator Fingrid said in a separate statement, citing RAO Nordic.

“The lack of electricity imports from Russia will be compensated by importing more electricity from Sweden and producing more electricity in Finland,” said Reima Päivinen, senior vice president of power system operations at Fingrid.

Fingrid, a state-owned company, said electricity imported from Russia covers about 10% of Finland’s total consumption. The shutdown comes as Finland’s leaders warm to the idea of ​​joining NATO in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

Thomas Frank

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