Ukraine regroups defenses as Russia prepares new Donbas push — live updates

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  • Zelenskyy says Ukrainian forces ‘undeterred’ in stopping Russia offensive
  • EU to organize platform to help rebuild Ukraine

The article was last updated 05:02 UTC/GMT

Report: Ukraine’s German ambassador to return to Kyiv

According to the Bild and Süddeutsche Zeitung newspapers in Germany, citing unnamed sources in Ukraine’s presidential office, Ambassador Andriy Melnyk is set to leave the embassy in Berlin to take up another role within the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv.

Bild reported that the change could take place during the summer months, but also cited a government official as saying that this should not be understood as his being recalled, rather as a recognition of his work.

Melnyk has been a prominent voice in the German media debate since the outbreak of the conflict late in February. His impassioned appeals for more assistance, particularly in the form of weapons exports from Germany, repeatedly grabbed the headlines.

The government in Berlin has since gone against several of its longstanding foreign policy principles to provide more weaponry, including heavy weaponry, to a hot conflict than it typically would.

However, Melnyk’s often frank tone has sometimes caused controversy, as have some isolated comments. Most recently, his defense of World War II-era Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera prompted criticism from both the Polish and Israeli governments, as well as the German government’s official charged with combating anti-Semitism.

Bandera is a contentious figure, closely tied to western Ukrainian nationalist efforts to break free of control from the Soviet Union and or Poland, and revered in parts of Ukraine. He’s also accused of complicity with Nazi Germany and of thus helping facilitate massacres of Jewish and Polish citizens.

Ukraine regroups defenses in Donbas

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address that Ukrainian forces are resisting Russia’s continued advances following the capture of Lysychansk.

“There have been no significant changes on the battlefield in the past 24 hours,” Zelenskyy said.

“The Armed Forces of Ukraine respond, push back and destroy the offensive potential of the occupiers day after day. We need to break them. It is a difficult task. It requires time and superhuman efforts. But we have no alternative,” he said. 

Earlier, the Ukrainian General Staff said that the focus of fighting had shifted further west into Donetsk province from the neighboring Luhansk province, which is effectively under Russian control after the Ukrainian withdrawal from Lysychansk.

Russian forces are now focusing on pushing toward the towns of Siversk, Feroivka and Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, the general staff said.

Serhiy Gaidai, the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk, said Ukrainian forces were now focused on holding a defensive line from their stronghold in Sloviansk to Bakhmut, some 45 kilometers to the south. 

Russia has also intensified its shelling of Sloviansk and the neighboring city of Kramatorsk.

Recap of Monday’s events

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that was holding talks with Turkey and the United Nations on securing guarantees for grain exports.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the European Union will set up a reconstruction platform to coordinate the rebuilding of Ukraine after its war with Russia. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the country needs $750 billion (€718 billion) for a three-stage recovery plan in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

Turkey halted a Russian-flagged cargo ship off its Black Sea coast and was  investigating a Ukrainian claim that it was carrying stolen grain.

President Vladimir Putin congratulated Russian troops on “liberating” the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk. Yuriy Sak, advisor to the Ukrainian defense minister, told DW that the loss of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region is “temporary.”

Ukraine’s general staff said it expects Russian forces to focus on the city of Slovyansk in the Donetsk region following the capture of Lysychansk.Click here for all updates from Monday.

sdi/wmr (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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