By Reuters and published by Channel NewsAsia
Kyiv – Ukraine said on Saturday (June 4) it had recaptured a swathe of the battlefield city of Sievierodonetsk, in a rare counter-offensive against Russia’s main assault force that had been steadily advancing in the east.
The Ukrainian claim could not be independently verified and Moscow said its own forces were making gains there. But it was the first time Kyiv has claimed to have launched a big counter-attack in Sieverodonetsk after days of yielding ground there.
Russia has concentrated its forces on Sievierodonetsk in recent weeks for one of the biggest ground battles of the war, with Moscow appearing to bet its campaign on capturing one of two eastern provinces it claims on behalf of separatist proxies.
Both sides have claimed to have inflicted huge casualties in the fighting for the small industrial city, a battle that military experts say could determine which side has the momentum for a prolonged war of attrition in coming months.
“We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means,” Macron said in an interview with regional newspapers published on Saturday, adding he was “convinced that it is France’s role to be a mediating power”.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted in response: “Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it.
“Because it is Russia that humiliates itself. We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives.”
Ukraine now says its aim is to push Russian forces back as far as possible on the battlefield, counting on advanced missile systems pledged in recent days by the United States and Britain to swing the war in their favour.
Asked about Macron’s mediation offer on national television, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said: “Until we receive weapons in their full amount, until we strengthen our positions, until we push them (Russia’s forces) back as far as possible to the borders of Ukraine, there is no point in holding negotiations.”
Putin says Russian anti-aircraft forces ‘cracking’ enemy weapons ‘like nuts’
RIA news agency, which first cited the comments, quoted Putin as responding to a question about US-supplied arms by saying, Russia was coping easily and had already destroyed the weapons by the dozen.
But the clip of an interview to be aired on Sunday made clear that Putin had in fact been responding to a different question, which was not shown.
“Our anti-aircraft systems are crunching them like nuts. Dozens have been destroyed,” Putin said.
Although the exact kind of weapon was not clear, Russia says it has destroyed both aircraft and missiles fielded by Ukraine.
Top: Members of a foreign volunteers unit which fights in the Ukrainian army take positions, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues in Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk region on June 2, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Serhii Nuzhnenko and published by CNA
First insert: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova (right) shows US ambassador Bridget Brink (centre, looking up) the damage in Borodyanka. Photo: Reuters /Edgar Su and published by BBC
Second insert: Russian President Vladimir Putin gives an interview to Rossiya-1 TV channel in Sochi, Russia on June 3, 2022. File photo: Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters and published by CNA
Home Page: Ukrainians tie white ribbons to an angel sculpture in Lviv to mark International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. Photo: EPA/MYKOLA TYS and published by BBC