Russian forces are trying to cut off the strategic twin city of Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine, having reduced Sievierodonetsk to rubble. Lysychansk is set to become the next main focus of fighting, as Moscow has launched massive artillery bombardments and airstrikes on areas far from the heart of the eastern battles. Ukraine’s spy chief said it woud defend the city from higher ground. “Russia used the tactic it used in Mariupol: wiping the city from the face of the earth. Given the conditions, holding the defence in the ruins and open fields is no longer possible,” Kyrylo Budanov said.
Russia will send missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Belarus in the next few months, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, said on Saturday while hosting the Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko. “In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” Putin said.
The mayors of several European capitals have been duped into holding video calls with a deepfake of their counterpart in Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko. The mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey, took part in a scheduled call on the Webex video conferencing platform on Friday with a person she said looked and sounded like Klitschko. “There were no signs that the video conference call wasn’t being held with a real person,” her office said in a statement.
Ukrainian shelling on Saturday forced Russian troops to suspend the evacuation of people from a chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk, just hours after Moscow’s forces took the city, Reuters reported the Tass news agency as saying. Separately, a senior adviser to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said special forces were still in Sievierodonetsk, directing artillery fire against the Russians. The adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, spoke in a video address.
British prime minister Boris Johnson urged G7 leaders to not “give up” on Ukraine as he pledged additional financial support for Ukraine as it attempts to fight the Russian invasion. “Ukraine can win and it will win. But they need our backing to do so. Now is not the time to give up on Ukraine,” Johnson said on Saturday. Britain stands ready to provide another $525m in loan guarantees, a statement from Downing Street.
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said on Saturday that Ukraine will win back all the cities it has lost to Russia, including Sievierodonetsk. “All our cities – Sievierodonetsk, Donetsk, Luhansk – we’ll get them all back,” he said in a late-night video address. Zelenskiy also admitted that the war was becoming difficult to emotionally handle.
Russian attacks have killed three civilians on Saturday in Bakhmut, New York and Pervomaiske in the Donetsk region, according to the region’s governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. Additionally, Russian missile strikes have killed at least three and injured four others in Sarny, a city in Rivne, a western region in Ukraine.
The US has announced that it will provide 18 patrol boats to Ukraine as part of the 13th security package promised on Thursday. “Included in the package announced Thursday are two 35-foot, small-unit riverine craft; six 40-foot maritime combat craft; and ten 34-foot, Dauntless Sea Ark patrol boats,” the defense department said on Thursday.