Fighting in eastern Ukraine continues abruptly. Russia uses fighter jets, rocket launchers and tanks. The Ukrainian armed forces report that they have repelled attacks and destroyed war equipment. President Zelenskyy is appealing to the West to introduce further sanctions against Moscow. Meanwhile, a prominent Russian foreign politician makes a tempting offer -- and shortly afterwards backtracks a little.
"The situation in Donbass is extremely difficult"
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy insists that the West should take further punitive measures against Russia. The sixth package of sanctions by the European states must be accelerated, the head of state said in a video message published during the night. He recently spoke to Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi about this. Many Western countries have already imposed unprecedented punitive measures against Russia.
"The situation in Donbass is extremely difficult," said Zelenskyy. The Russian army is trying to attack the cities of Sloviansk and Sievjerodonetsk in the east of the country. "The Armed Forces of Ukraine are holding back this offensive." Every day that "our defenders" thwart Russia's plans is a concrete contribution on the way to victory. But Selenskyjs also warned: "We have to keep fighting."
During the night, the Ukrainian military reported ongoing fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east of the country. Nine attacks by Russian troops were repelled there on Saturday. The Ukrainian army said five tanks, four artillery systems and one drone were destroyed during the day. According to the situation report, Russia is deploying combat aircraft, rocket launchers and tanks along the entire front. In the Zaporizhia region in southern Ukraine, the local administration says it has observed increasing numbers of Russian drone flights. The Russian military has increased aerial reconnaissance, it said. In addition, columns of military vehicles were sighted. Zaporizhia is northwest of the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, which has since been occupied by Russia, on the Sea of Azov.
Killed more civilians
Ukraine once again blamed Russia for the deaths of seven civilians in the part of Donetsk region controlled by government forces. The governor of the region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, wrote on the Telegram news channel that three people had been killed in Lyman alone. He did not comment on the exact circumstances. In the Russian-held region of Kherson in the south, the local administration accused Ukrainian forces of killing three civilians and injuring ten in the town of Biloserka on Saturday. This information could not be verified.
Exchange for Ukrainian fighters from Mariupol?
Prominent Russian foreign politician Leonid Slutsky did not rule out an exchange of Ukrainian fighters captured in Mariupol for pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk. "We will examine the possibility of replacing Medvedchuk with the Azov fighters," Slutsky said, according to the Interfax agency. He later explained in his blog on the Telegram news channel that the fighters would have to be brought to justice in any case. There is no way around a tribunal, he stressed. Competent people would have to decide whether Medvedchuk should be replaced.
According to Russian sources, more than 2,400 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered in Mariupol in the past few days, including fighters from the Azov regiment, which Russia describes as "Nazi". For weeks they had holed up in the bunkers of the Azov steelworks and defended the port city against the Russian occupiers.
According to pro-Russian separatists, 78 of the fighters captured at the steel plant are women. According to the Russian state agency TASS, the head of the Donetsk separatists, Denis Puschilin, said on Saturday evening that foreigners had also been taken into Russian captivity. He didn't give a number. In addition to his compatriots, Zelenskyi had also called on foreigners to fight against Russia.
That brings the day
You can read all further developments in our live ticker on the Ukraine war.