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What happened this week in the Russian-Ukrainian war? Find the essential news and analyzes | Ukraine

Each week, we round up the must-read for our coverage of the war in Ukraine, from news and features to analysis, visual guides and opinion.

Kyiv hit by missile attack

The week began with the sound of explosions heard around the Ukrainian capital in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Dan Sabbagh reported Russian cruise missiles hitting a railway depot in the eastern suburb of Dniprovsky in Kyiv. Ukraine said the strike hit a railcar repair yard; Moscow said it destroyed tanks sent by Eastern European countries to Ukraine.

It was the first time the capital had been hit in more than five weeks. One person was hospitalized and a plume of smoke rose and was visible from high points in the city. Five cruise missiles were launched from Tu-95 bombers, one of which was intercepted, according to the Ukrainian Air Force, in an attack that represented a change in approach by Russian forces.

Smoke seen from the high points of Kyiv on June 5 after explosions hit the Ukrainian capital early that morning
Smoke seen from high points in Kyiv on June 5 after explosions hit the Ukrainian capital early that morning. Photography: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

Poutine “rational, cold, cruel, evil black”

Luke Harding and Dan Sabbagh spoke to former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who described Russian President Vladimir Putin as ‘absolutely rational, cold, cruel and black evil’ and said he was determined to go down in Russian history alongside Stalin and Peter the Great.

In an exclusive Kyiv interview, Tymoshenko dismissed the idea that Putin was “crazy”. “He acts on his own dark logic,” she said. “He is driven by this idea of ​​a historic mission and wants to create an empire. This is his hyper-objective. It comes from a deep inner desire and belief.

Tymoshenko, leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution and twice prime minister, had several individual talks with the Russian president. They held talks in 2009 after Putin, then prime minister, cut off gas supplies to Ukraine. Tymoshenko ran for president in 2010, 2014 and 2019, finishing second twice, then third.

Up close, Putin was “always cautious” in what he said and always suspected he might be taped, she said. “He comes from a KGB school,” she said. Before the large-scale invasion of Russia in February, he made no secret of his belief that there was “no nation like Ukraine, and no people like Ukrainians”, she said. declared.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Photography: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ukraine ‘almost out of ammunition’

Ukraine’s deputy military intelligence chief said Isobel Koshib that Ukraine is losing to Russia on the front line and now depends almost solely on western weapons to keep Russia at bay.

“It’s an artillery war now,” said Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence. The front lines were now where the future would be decided, he told the Guardian, “and we are losing in terms of the artillery”.

“It all depends now on what [the west] gives us,” Skibitsky said. “Ukraine has one artillery piece against 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our Western partners gave us about 10% of what they had.

Ukraine uses 5,000 to 6,000 artillery shells per day, according to Skibitsky. “We have almost exhausted all our [artillery] ammunition and are now using standard NATO 155 caliber shells,” he said of ammunition fired from artillery pieces.

Aerial explosions of incendiary munitions are seen during a bombardment, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the town of Marinka in the Donetsk region
Aerial explosions of incendiary munitions are seen during a bombardment, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in the town of Marinka, Donetsk region. Photograph: Reuters

Life in the Donbass as the front line draws closer

Luke Harding and Isobel Koshib reported on deteriorating living conditions for residents of Donbass as Moscow continued to focus its firepower on eastern Ukraine.

In the city of Slavyanask, an old spa resort near Sievierodonetsk, a terrible battle is approaching.

Sitting on a bench outside City Hall, Deputy Mayor Yuriy Pidlisnyi said he told residents to flee. About 25,000 people out of a population of around 100,000 had stubbornly ignored his advice, he said, as conditions inside the city steadily worsened.

There is no gas or water, and only intermittent electricity. Gasoline being expensive, many inhabitants travel by bicycle. Some who left came back after running out of money. The local economy is destroyed. Soldiers line up outside a market cafe to buy kebabs at 60 Hryvnia (£1.80/$2.25) at cost price.

Slava Vladimirovich, a member of the Ukrainian Donbass Battalion who evacuated civilians from the besieged city of Lysychansk, asked, “Why did God punish me by having me born here? I liberated Popasna and Lysychansk eight years ago and participated in the greatest battles. And then the Russians came back to us.

Isobel and Luke also spoke to Bakhmut’s troops who described their perilous fight to hold eastern Ukraine.

The soldiers said they had become accustomed to the ruthless shelling from the Russian side. “The first time you see a tank, you are scared,” said Sasha, a young doctor. “After a while, you no longer feel it. It’s like going into a trance. Your objective is to kill the enemy. You cannot do this if you have a normal psyche. You become other. My parents tell me that I am disconnected from reality.

by Dan Sabbagh The analysis of the Battle of Donbass noted that there were signs that the invaders were reaching exhaustion and questioned whether Ukraine could cope with the losses it suffered.

A Ukrainian serviceman pauses after digging trenches near the frontline in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Wednesday
A Ukrainian serviceman pauses after digging trenches near the frontline in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Wednesday. Photography: Bernat Armangue/AP

Battle for control of Sievierodonetsk

Heavy fighting saw Russian forces concentrating their efforts in an attempt to encircle and capture the eastern town of Sievierodonetsk, advancing at a rate of 500m to 1km per day, Dan Sabbagh reports.

“Sievierodonetsk remains the epicenter of the confrontation in the Donbass,” Zelenskiy said in a late address to the nation on Wednesday night, saying Ukraine had inflicted “significant losses on the enemy.”

The Ukrainian leader corroborated reports of heavy fighting, saying the battle of Sievierodonetsk was “probably one of the most difficult of this war”.

“In particular, the fate of Donbass is decided there,” he added.

Capturing Sievierodonetsk would give Russian President Vladimir Putin control of all of Luhansk – the region which, along with Donetsk, forms the Ukrainian industrial heartland of Donbass – cementing a change in the momentum of the battlefield after his forces were pushed back from Kyiv and northern Ukraine.

Russian forces focus their efforts on capturing the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk
Russian forces focus their efforts on capturing the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk

Stressing the importance of the struggle for Sievierodonetsk, Zelenskiy traveled to the beleaguered town of Lysychansk, a few kilometers to the south, on Sunday.

On the front line, close to the fiercest battles, he talks to his troops. “What you all deserve is victory – that’s the most important thing. But not at any cost,” he said in a video released later after his visit.

Death sentences in a show trial

Andre Roth and Emine Sinmaz reported on the “disgusting Soviet-era show trial” that resulted in the death sentences of two Britons and a Moroccan national captured while fighting in the Ukrainian army in Mariupol.

A court in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine on Thursday convicted Aiden Aslin, 28, of Newark, Shaun Pinner, 48, of Watford, and Saaudun Brahim of “terrorism”. Observers said the process was intended to mimic the war crimes trials of Russian soldiers taking place in Kyiv.

The two Britons said they served in the Ukrainian marines, making them active duty soldiers who should be protected by the Geneva POW conventions. However, Russian state media portrayed them as mercenaries and the court convicted them of “being a mercenary”.

The decision was quickly condemned by senior British officials.

“I totally condemn the sentencing of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner being held by Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said. “They are prisoners of war. This is a fictitious judgment without any legitimacy… my thoughts are with the families. We continue to do everything we can to support them. »

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Post expires at 5:28pm on Tuesday June 21st, 2022