Russian border region Belgorod under fire again – Putin announces security measures
2:24 p.m.: The western Russian region of Belgorod on the border with Ukraine has come under fire again, according to the authorities. The focus of yesterday’s attacks were the districts of Shebekino and Graivoron, said the governor of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, on his Telegram channel on Sunday. 115 shells fell in Graivoron, where heavy fighting broke out earlier in the week, and 103 shells in the Shebekino district.
In view of the attacks in the Russian border region, Kremlin boss Putin has ordered stronger security precautions at Russia’s border. The Russian president said the stepping-up of security measures was aimed at ensuring a “swift” movement of military and civilians to the Ukrainian regions now under Moscow’s control. In a message to the Border Service, a branch of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Putin said their job was to “reliably cover” the lines near the combat zone.
According to Gladkov, a security guard was killed in the attacks on Schebekino and three people were injured, including two minors. They would be treated in the hospital. According to him, residential buildings were damaged by the shelling both in Schebekino and in the district of Graivoron.
The Belgorod region was rocked by heavy fighting earlier in the week. Volunteer corps of Russian citizens took responsibility for the attacks on the area. Kiev itself has denied any direct involvement in the attacks.
Two dead in drone rain on Kiev: “Does not make any military sense”
Sunday, May 28, 11:05 a.m.: According to Ukrainian information, on Sunday night Russia carried out the most extensive drone attacks on Kiev since the Russian invasion began. “Overall, a record number of explosive drones was counted: 54,” the Ukrainian Air Force said on Sunday in the messenger service Telegram. More than 40 of these drones would have aimed at the Ukrainian capital. According to preliminary information from the authorities, two people were killed and three others injured.
The foreign policy expert Nico Lange calculates with the Russian drone attack on Kiev. “Russia attacked Kyiv tonight with 54(!) Shahed drones. 52 were shot down. The attacks make no military sense. It is hatred and terror against the civilian Ukrainians who, despite the war, live more freely, friendlier and more optimistically than the Russians,” Lange wrote on Twitter.
The Air Force highlighted that it had destroyed 52 of the 54 Russian drones. However, drone debris fell on a seven-storey building in the Golosiivskiy district, killing one person and injuring another. In addition, a fire broke out in an area with warehouses and spread to an area of 1,000 square meters.
The Mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, had previously informed about “massive” night-time drone attacks on his city. He spoke of a dead person – a 41-year-old man – and an injured person aged 35 in the Solomyanskiy district.
Kiev’s secret service admits involvement in Crimean bridge attack
4:43 p.m.: More than seven months after the explosion on the Crimean bridge, Ukrainian intelligence chief Vasyl Malyuk officially confirmed Kiev’s involvement in it for the first time. “Since this is a logistic route that we had to cut off from the enemy, appropriate measures were taken,” the head of the domestic intelligence service SBU said in a YouTube interview with Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Komarov. He did not give details of the operation. Pictures of the fire on the bridge resulting from the explosion on October 8 – the night after Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday – went around the world.
Western secret services have also assumed that Ukraine was involved. Maljuk had only hinted in December that Ukraine could have something to do with it. Now he confirmed it. Moscow blamed the Ukrainian military intelligence service for the attack. The bridge, which was closed for days but has now been repaired, leading from the Russian mainland to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, is considered an important supply route for the war against Ukraine.
Malyuk said Ukraine acted in accordance with “traditions of warfare”. He also said that at the beginning of the Russian war of aggression more than 15 months ago, the SBU secret service created a special unit for acts of sabotage on Ukrainian territory against the enemy and for repelling such attacks by the enemy.
Malyuk also said that the Russian authorities were still conducting “pseudo-investigations” into the Crimean bridge attack. More than 20 Russian citizens suspected of involvement in the crime were arrested. Ukraine is following this with interest. The drone attacks in October on warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Bay of Sevastopol were also part of a SBU special operation together with the Ukrainian armed forces, he said.
US institute: Russia feigns willingness to negotiate
Saturday, May 27, 10:05 a.m.: According to US experts, Russia is once again putting pressure on the West to urge Ukraine to negotiate. Accordingly, the West should influence the Ukrainian leadership to accept Russia’s conditions for such talks, according to an analysis by the Institute for War Studies ISW in Washington. The experts referred to information from the Kremlin on Friday, according to which Russian President Vladimir Putin was open to dialogue. As in the past, Russia’s only aim is to demotivate the West in its aid to Ukraine by pretending to be willing to negotiate.
Russia accuses Ukraine and the West of blocking negotiations. At the same time, Moscow is rejecting a peace plan by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that envisages a Russian troop withdrawal. Ukraine and also Germany are against freezing the war with the territories occupied by Russia.
According to the ISW, Russia has not yet created any conditions for such negotiations or said goodbye to its maximum goal of capitulating the Ukrainian government. It is likely that the Kremlin will intensify its false claims that it is ready for talks. At the same time, the ISW experts see further attempts by China, with its special envoy Li Hui, to urge the West to use its influence on Ukraine to achieve a ceasefire.
The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Valeriy Zalushnyi, published a video showing soldiers praying and preparing for the major offensive. “It’s time to take back what’s ours,” the video reads.
Ukraine fends off hail of drones on Kiev with German Gepard tanks
08.05: According to the Ukrainian air defense, a total of 36 kamikaze drones that were heading for Kiev were destroyed. According to the Ukrainian military, this was the twelfth kamikaze drone attack on Kiev since early May.
According to commander Serhiy Nayev, the soldiers of the responsible unit use German Gepard tanks. The destroyed targets are noted on their armor.
Scholz wants to resume talks with Putin
Friday, May 26, 06:01: Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has promised to resume personal contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “It’s been a while since my last phone call. But I intend to speak to Putin again in due course,” Scholz told the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” (Friday edition). With a view to the disputes within the federal government, Scholz insisted on a change of style between the coalition partners.
Regarding the Ukraine war, Scholz told the newspaper that a “fair peace” would require the withdrawal of Russian troops. When asked whether this also includes withdrawing from the Crimean peninsula, which has been occupied by Russia since 2014, Scholz said it was “not our business to formulate what agreements she wants to make instead of Ukraine”.
However, Russia must understand that it cannot be a kind of “cold peace” with the existing front line as the new border between Russia and Ukraine.
Regarding the recently heated climate in the “traffic light coalition”, Scholz said that for his taste “these discussions could also be conducted quietly”. The Chancellor explained the dispute with the high pace of change that the traffic light had struck. This inevitably leads to lively discussions sometimes.
Lukashenko: Russia has started transferring nuclear weapons to Belarus
6 p.m.: According to Belarusian head of state Alexander Lukashenko, Russia has started transferring nuclear weapons to Belarus. “The transfer of nuclear warfare agents (…) has already begun,” Lukashenko replied in a web video on Thursday when a journalist asked about Russian nuclear weapons. Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin announced the stationing of nuclear weapons in the neighboring country at the end of March.
Zelenskyj-Advisor: Ukrainian counter-offensive has been going on for days
2:03 p.m.: The long-awaited Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russia’s troops has begun, according to Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak. “The counter-offensive has been going on for days,” he said in an interview on Italian television on Wednesday evening. “This is an intense war along a 1,500-kilometer border. Our actions have already begun,” added Podoliak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, according to the Italian translation.
At the same time, he denied that Kiev was involved in the attacks in Russia’s Belgorod region. Russia and Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin are not even able to defend their own territory, Podolyak noted. He continued: “What is happening in the border region is a shock to Putin and will lead to his end.”
The advisor said in general that Ukraine does not want to attack Russian territory. Addressing the Italian journalist, he said: “We are using the weapons you gave us to destroy Russian positions in the Moscow-held territories, including Donbass and Crimea.” Airspace will be closed, said Podolyak.