According to Russia, it has started a new offensive in eastern Ukraine in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. "In the Donetsk area, the Russian units continued their attacks and drove the enemy out of their fortified positions," army spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in Moscow on Saturday. Positions were also seized in the north between the small towns of Kreminna and Lyman. The information could not be independently verified.
For weeks there have been reports that the Ukrainian army is on the defensive in the Donetsk region. Further north, on the other hand, the Ukrainians took the initiative after the Russian troops were driven out of the Kharkiv region. The Russian war of aggression against the neighboring country will soon last ten months. There are heavy casualties on both sides.
"Donbass is the main front in the struggle for Ukraine's independence," Serhiy Cherevatyy, spokesman for Army Group East of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said on television on Saturday. The focus of the fighting was therefore on the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
"The enemy has changed their tactics," Cherevaty said. Instead of attacks by larger units, there were now attacks by smaller groups, above all by the "Wagner" mercenary unit, supported by barrel and rocket artillery. "We analyze this tactic and find an antidote for every military poison."
Tass: Anti-aircraft defenses active in occupied areas
According to military information, anti-aircraft defenses became active in the areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian troops on Saturday evening. There were reports of the use of air defense from both Simferopol in Crimea and Melitopol in southeastern Ukraine, according to the Russian state agency Tass. The population was asked to remain calm.
According to initial reports, several victims were killed in an attack by Ukrainian artillery on the city of Melitopol, which was occupied by Russian troops. As the representative of the occupation administration, Vladimir Rogov, told the Russian state agency TASS, among other things, a restaurant was hit in the attack. "As a result of the missile attack from a Himar system, there were dead and wounded among peaceful people in the "Jägereinkehr" restaurant," Rogov was quoted as saying. The information could not be independently verified.
Ukraine had recently used reconnaissance and combat drones over the Russian-occupied areas. Kiev has not yet officially commented on the possible use of Ukrainian combat drones against military airports in Russia, in which combat aircraft were damaged.
Warning of prolonged power outages in Odessa
According to the authorities, after further Russian rocket attacks in the port city of Odessa in the south, the power will be out for a long time. "The repair work is taking more time than usual," said the deputy head of the Presidential Office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko. An attack during the night completely paralyzed the city. So far, it has only been possible to supply important objects such as hospitals, pumping stations and thermal power plants with electricity.
Russia: Ukraine shells Donetsk
The Ukrainian armed forces repeatedly fired rocket launchers at the city of Donetsk in the Donbass on Saturday, according to the Russian authorities. Among other things, the bus station in the city center and a school were hit, the Russian state agency Tass reported. No information was given about possible victims of these attacks.
Donetsk is the largest city in the region of the same name, which was declared an independent people's republic by Moscow-backed separatists. In the meantime, Moscow has annexed the area in violation of international law.
USA: no problem with German battle tanks for Ukraine
In view of the situation at the front, the debate about further arms deliveries is moving again: The USA signaled that it had no objections to the delivery of German Leopard 2 main battle tanks or German Patriot air defense systems. "Our position is the same in both cases: It is Germany's decision what Germany does," Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said during a visit to Berlin.
Ukraine has been demanding Leopard 2 tanks and Patriots for months. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has repeatedly emphasized that Germany will not go it alone. So far, no NATO country has delivered such tanks.
Arms dealer But supports war
Russian arms dealer Viktor But, who returned home after a prisoner swap between Moscow and Washington, has voiced his support for Russia's war of aggression. "If I had the opportunity and the necessary skills, I would go (to the front) as a volunteer," the 55-year-old said in a stream on Russia's state broadcaster RT (formerly Russia Today). He never understood why Russia didn't start the war earlier, he said.
But (also Bout) was exchanged for American basketball player Brittney Griner on Thursday, despite strained relations between Moscow and Washington over the Ukraine war. While Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison for a drug offense in Russia a few months ago, But has already served 14 years in prison. The Russian, known as the "Dealer of Death," was sentenced to a total of 25 years in prison in the United States for conspiracy to murder and arms trafficking. Moscow has repeatedly tried to get Bout released, who is said to have links to the Russian secret service.
Scholz wants to continue talking to Putin on the phone
Despite sobering experiences, Scholz continues to make phone calls to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "We have completely different opinions," said Scholz in a question and answer session with citizens in his Potsdam constituency. "Nevertheless, I will continue to talk to him because I want to experience the moment when it is possible to get out of the situation. And that's not possible if you don't talk to each other." Scholz has called Putin several times since the beginning of the war. The "really depressing" thing for him is that Putin, despite massive losses, is still determined to conquer Ukrainian territory by force.
Heusgen: Diplomatic efforts "on the back burner"
The head of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, currently sees only a few diplomatic efforts to end the war. "Something is on the back burner," said Heusgen on Bavarian radio. Telephone calls are correct, so that there is no speechlessness. However, Putin has "not changed an inch in his basic position, namely that he wants to destroy Ukraine, that he wants to incorporate Ukraine into Russia". Therefore, one must continue to count on Kiev's military victory.
Human rights activist awarded Nobel Peace Prize
Observers see a signal to Kremlin chief Putin in the recipients of this year's Nobel Peace Prize: human rights activists from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine were honored on Saturday in Norway's capital Oslo. The President of the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), Olexandra Matviychuk, and the head of the Russian human rights organization Memorial, Jan Ratschinsky, accepted the awards in person. Jailed human rights lawyer Ales Byalyatski from Belarus was represented by his wife Natalya Pinchuk.