Russia-Ukraine war latest: Russians trying to destroy Donbas, says Zelenskiy, as fighting intensifies – live

The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, has declared a state of emergency due to the war in neighbouring Ukraine.

Orban, who was returned to power for a fourth consecutive term in April, announced in a Facebook video that his government would assume emergency powers in order to be able to respond more quickly to the challenges created by the war. It will allow the Hungarian government to approve measures by decree.

Orban said:

The world is on the brink of an economic crisis.

The first measures will be announced on Wednesday, he said.

Ukraine has already started using long-range cannons it received from France government officials have said.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, promised to send a shipment of the Ceaser cannons, which are described as “the trump card of the French artillery”, at the start of the month.

Ukrainian infrastructure minister Volodymyr Omelyan shared the update from the Ukrinian army’s commander-in-chief, Valery Zaluzhny, on Tuesday night.

He said the long-range weapons had been rolled out after artillerymen had received two or three hours of training.

Гаубиці «Caesar» вже на передовій
Це — самохідна артилерійська установка нового покоління, яка вражає противника на відстані більше 20 км з високою точністю.

Наші артилеристи швидко опанували нові САУ, фактично за 2-3 години, – Головнокомандувач ЗСУ Валерій Залужний.

— Volodymyr Omelyan (@V_Omelyan) May 24, 2022

As we’ve reported, Russian forces are currently attempting to size Donbas’ two provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said that Moscow was seeking to destroy the industrial Donbas region.

More from Reuters:

Russian forces took control of three towns in the Donetsk region including Svitlodarsk, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told an affiliate of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

“The situation in Donbas is extremely difficult. All the remaining strength of the Russian army is now concentrated on this region,” Zelenskiy said in a late Tuesday address. “The occupiers want to destroy everything there.”

Russia’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment out-of-hours.

The easternmost part of the Ukrainian-held Donbas pocket, the city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets River and its twin Lysychansk, on the west bank, have become a pivotal battlefield. Russian forces were advancing from three directions to encircle them.

“The enemy has focused its efforts on carrying out an offensive in order to encircle Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk,” said Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk province, where the two cities are among the last territory held by Ukraine.

Ukraine’s military said it had repelled nine Russian attacks on Tuesday in the Donbas where Moscow’s troops had killed at least 14 civilians, using aircraft, rocket launchers, artillery, tanks, mortars and missiles.

Reuters could not immediately verify the information.

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine. I’m Calla Wahlquist and I’ll be taking you through developments for the next few hours.

This is how things currently stand:

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned that Moscow was seeking to destroy the industrial Donbas region amid intense fighting in the eastern region. The Ukrainian president said in his nightly address on Tuesday that “the situation in Donbas is extremely difficult. All the remaining strength of the Russian army is now concentrated on this region”.
  • Russian forces have taken control of three Donetsk towns including Svitlodarsk, according to the regional governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, with the key city of Sievierodonestsk surrounded on three sides.
  • The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region said the situation there “is only getting worse” as Russian troops advance. “It is getting worse with every day and even with every hour,” said governor Sergiy Gaidai. “They are simply eliminating Sievierodonestsk from the earth.”
  • The bodies of more than 200 people have been discovered in the rubble of a high-rise apartment building in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, according to a Ukrainian official. Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor Vadym Boychenko, said workers found the bodies while digging through a basement underneath the collapsed building.
  • Ukrainian soldiers captured by Russian forces after the three-month siege of the Azovstal steel plant are being held in “satisfactory” conditions, according to the unit commander’s wife, amid uncertainty over the fate of the prisoners. At least 1,000 Ukrainian fighters, including members of the Azov battalion, were transferred to Russian-held territory last week after the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol was taken by Russian forces.
  • Ukraine is gathering the bodies of dead Russian soldiers found in formerly occupied towns in the hope of exchanging them for prisoners of war or for Ukrainian bodies. In Kharkiv, 60 bodies were retrieved and stacked in a refrigerated rail carriage, Reuters reports.
  • Ukrainian prosecutors have launched a war crimes investigation in Kharkiv’s Gorky Park which was hit by about 50 shells in three months of war. “Hitting civilian targets, civilian infrastructure, trying to kill civilians and destroy cultural heritage, are considered war crimes. An error can happen once or twice, but there are 56 hits recorded. It’s not an accident. They were targeting the park,” Ukrainian prosecutor Roman Petrenko said.
  • A new survey has found that 82% of Ukrainians believe that their country should not sign away any of its territories as part of a peace deal with Russia under any circumstances
  • Turkish officials will meet with Swedish and Finnish delegations in Ankara on Wednesday to discuss the Nato bids by the two Nordic countries. Finland’s foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, said his country and Sweden would send delegations to the Turkish capital to try to resolve its opposition to their applications for membership in the military alliance.
  • A Russian court has rejected an appeal from opposition leader Alexei Navalny against a nine-year prison sentence he is serving for large-scale fraud and contempt of court, charges which he denies. Navalny lambasted President Vladimir Putin during court hearing, casting him as a madman who had started a “stupid war” in Ukraine based on lies.
  • Russia’s foreign ministry has announced a ban on 154 members of the British parliament’s House of Lords on entering the country, in a tit-for-tat move for sanctions against Russian officials over Ukraine. It accused them of having “used their authority to whip up anti-Russian hysteria in the UK”.
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to be the “beginning of the third world war” that could spell the end of civilisation, the veteran philanthropist and former financier George Soros has warned from the World Economic Forum in Davos that autocratic regimes were in the ascendant and the global economy was heading for a depression.


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