Russia-Ukraine live: Moscow says Donbas ‘liberation’ a priority | Russia-Ukraine war News

  • The “liberation” of Ukraine’s Donbas is an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
  • Ukrainian forces endured heavy artillery barrages as they held off Russian attempts to capture Severodonetsk, the largest city Ukraine still controls in the eastern region of Luhansk, officials say.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits troops on the front line in Ukraine’s war-torn northeastern Kharkiv region, his first official appearance outside the capital Kyiv since the war started.
  • The Ukrainian leader fired Kharkiv’s security services chief for “not working on the defence of the city” since the start of Russia’s invasion.
  • No agreement among European Union’s members has been reached over an embargo on Russian oil, an EU official told the Reuters news agency.

Here are the latest updates:

Ukraine opens criminal proceedings into Russia’s Saturday Donetsk attacks

Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office in the Donetsk region has opened five criminal proceedings into Russia’s use of heavy artillery on May 28 against the town of Toretsk, and villages in the Bakhmut and Pokrovsky districts, Interfax reports.

The prosecutor’s office says three people were considerably injured in the attacks.

Images show Russian ship, with allegedly stolen Ukrainian grain, in Syria: CNN

New satellite imagery shows that a Russian ship carrying grain allegedly stolen from Ukrainian farms has arrived in the Syrian port of Latakia, CNN reports.

The images are provided by Maxar Technologies and show the carrier Matros Pozynich at Latakia on May 27.

According to CNN, the Pozynich is one of three ships that have been loading grain in the Crimean port of Sevastopol since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was last seen in Sevastopol on May 19 and then tracked along the Turkish coast.

CNN has previously reported that convoys of trucks have been seen carrying grain from farms and silos in southern Ukraine into Crimea. Ukrainian authorities estimated earlier this month that Russian forces in occupied areas had seized more than 400,000 tons of grain.

Few key decisions likely in upcoming EU meeting

Draft conclusions of Monday’s upcoming meeting of EU leaders, seen by Reuters, show that while the EU will be generous with verbal support for the government in Kyiv, there will be little in terms of new decisions on any of the main topics.

EU leaders will meet on Monday to declare continued support for Ukraine to help it fend off Russia’s assault, but the talks will be overshadowed by their failure to agree on a new sanctions package against Moscow.

Reuters reports that the most tangible of decisions will be the leaders’ political backing for a 9 billion euro package of EU loans, with a small grants component to cover part of the interest, so that Ukraine can keep its government going and pay wages for around two months.

But even there, the decision will be only made later, after the European Commission makes a proposal on how to raise the money, Reuters reports.

Russian forces damaged 2,229 high-rise buildings in Kharkiv region: Governor

The governor of the Kharkiv region says Russian forces damaged 2,229 high-rise buildings, of which 225 have been completely destroyed.

In the city of Kharkiv itself, the northern and eastern districts suffered the most damage and destruction, Oleh Synyehubov told Zelenskyy during the president’s visit to Kharkiv, adding that 30 percent of housing stock was either damaged or destroyed in these areas.

Russian forces fired on 46 communities in Donetsk and Luhansk Sunday: Army

Russian forces fired on 46 communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Sunday, killing at least three civilians, wounding two others, and destroying or damaging 62 civilian buildings.

In a Facebook post, Ukrainian forces in the Donbas said they had been on the defensive all day on Sunday.

Russian shelling also continued across several regions such as in Novy Buh in Mykolaiv and Sumy. The city council in Novy Buh in the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine said on its Telegram channel that a Russian missile attack had caused considerable damage in the city centre.

Russia still occupies one third of Kharkiv region: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said that one third of the Kharkiv region is still under Russian occupation, but that Ukraine will “definitely liberate the entire territory”.

In his nighttime address, the president also described the destruction in the region’s capital city of Kharkiv, which he visited on Sunday.

“Black, burnt-out, half-ruined apartment buildings face east and north with their windows – from where Russian artillery was firing. From where Russian combat aircraft arrived,” he said.

“They face Russia. And in them now, like in a mirror, the Russian state can see itself. See how much it lost during these 95 days of full-scale war against Ukraine,” Zelenskyy added.

Debris cover the room of an apartment damaged during shelling in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 21, 2022
Debris cover the room of an apartment damaged during shelling in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 21, 2022 [Bernat Armangue/AP]

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra raises $900,000 for army by auctioning Eurovision trophy

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, which won the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month, raised $900,000 for the country’s military by selling the contest’s trophy.

The group won Eurovision with their entry “Stefania”, surfing a wave of public support to claim an emotional victory that was welcomed by the country’s president.

On Sunday they sold the crystal microphone they were awarded in a Facebook auction led by Ukrainian TV presenter Serhiy Prytula.

The funds raised will be used to purchase for the armed forces the PD-2 unmanned aerial system, which includes three aircraft and a ground control station, Prytula said at the auction.

Serbia secures gas supply deal with Putin

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic has announced that he has secured an “extremely favourable” three-year natural gas supply deal with Russia, amid efforts by the European Union to phase out Russian energy supplies.

“What I can tell you is that we have agreed on the main elements that are very favourable for Serbia,” the Serbian president said after clinching the deal during a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

For more, read here

No EU deal on Russian oil embargo yet; more talks on Monday

European Union governments have failed to reach an agreement on an embargo on Russian oil, but will continue negotiations on Monday morning, an EU official told the Reuters news agency.

The proposal under discussion now among EU countries assumes a ban on Russian oil delivered to the EU by sea by the end of the year, but foresees an exemption for oil delivered by the Russian Druzhba pipeline, which supplies Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech republic.

Top Kharkiv official fired over city’s defence: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy says he fired Kharkiv’s security services chief for “not working on the defence of the city” since the start of Russia’s invasion.

“I came, figured out and fired the head of the Security Service of Ukraine of the (Kharkiv) region for the fact that he did not work on the defence of the city from the first days of the full-scale war, but thought only about himself,” Zelensky said in his daily national address.

He spoke after visiting the country’s war-ridden east for the first time since Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy looks on as he visits the war-hit Kharkiv region. Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the situation in the east as "indescribably difficult."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy looks on as he visits the war-hit Kharkiv region. Zelenskyy described the situation in the east as “indescribably difficult.” [Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP]

All critical infrastructure in Severodonetsk is destroyed: Zelenskyy

Russian forces stormed Severodonetsk after trying unsuccessfully to encircle the strategic city, Ukrainian officials said, creating a situation that Zelenskyy described as “indescribably difficult”. He said a relentless Russian artillery barrage had destroyed the town’s critical infrastructure and damaged 90 percent of its buildings.

“Capturing Severodonetsk is a principal task for the occupation force… We do all we can to hold this advance,” Zelenskyy said, adding that the Russians don’t care about casualties.

The deteriorating conditions raised fears that Severodonetsk could become the next Mariupol, which spent nearly three months under Russian siege before the last Ukrainian fighters surrendered.

Ukraine’s Donbas ‘unconditional priority’ for Moscow: Lavrov

The “liberation” of Ukraine’s Donbas is an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, the RIA news agency cited Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei 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.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war.

See all updates from Saturday, May 28 here.

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