Russian Neighbor Finland To Apply To Join NATO

Russia’s offensive in the Donbas region in Ukraine’s east “has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule,” British military intelligence says.

Russia has now likely suffered losses of one-third of the ground combat force it committed in February, the British Ministry of Defense said in a regular bulletin on May 15.

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After failing to capture Kyiv following the February 24 invasion, Russia has shifted its focus to the Donbas, an area comprising the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

In the western Lviv region, Russia attacked military infrastructure, authorities said on May 15.

No deaths or casualties were reported following the rocket attack, Lviv Governor Maksym Kozytskiy said on Telegram.

The governor said the extent of the destruction was being investigated. One site near Yavoriv — presumably around the military training area there — was “completely destroyed,” according to the governor.

Earlier, a regional air command said several missiles had been fired at the Lviv region from the Black Sea in the early hours of May 15.

This was the first Russian air strike in about a week in the region near the Polish border.

The Russian military has yet to provide any information on the attack in its update.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military said it had launched a counteroffensive near the eastern, Russian-held town of Izyum as Kyiv said Kremlin forces were withdrawing from areas near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, in what appears to be the latest setback for Moscow’s military offensive.

Ukraine’s General Staff said on May 14 that Russian forces appeared to be focusing on guarding supply routes and were launching mortar, artillery, and air strikes in the Donetsk region in an effort to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications.”

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Ukraine was “entering a new — long-term — phase of the war.”

Britain said that despite small-scale initial advances, Russia had failed to achieve substantial territorial gains in Donbas over the past month while sustaining consistently high levels of attrition.

Russian forces are increasingly constrained by degraded enabling capabilities, continued low morale, and reduced combat effectiveness, the ministry said.

“Many of these capabilities cannot be quickly replaced or reconstituted, and are likely to continue to hinder Russian operations in Ukraine,” the bulletin added.

The ministry predicts that under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he met U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin on May 15 and that “more weapons and other aid is on the way to Ukraine.”

Kuleba was due to brief a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Berlin on the situation on the ground in Ukraine and on how the alliance can further help the country as it battles invading Russian forces for a 12th week.

“We agreed to work closely together to ensure that Ukrainian food exports reach consumers in Africa and Asia. Grateful to Secretary Blinken and the U.S. for their leadership and unwavering support,” Kuleba tweeted.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Blinken and Kuleba discussed the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including on global food security.

“The secretary conveyed details regarding the latest tranche of U.S. security assistance to bolster Ukraine’s defenses,” Price said.

Earlier, U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell led a delegation of Republican senators on a surprise visit to Kyiv in a show of support for Ukraine in its fight against the unprovoked Russian invasion.

The McConnell-led trip, which followed one by Democratic House of Representative leaders on May 1, comes as the Senate attempts to finalize a $40 billion military aid package for Ukraine.

Outside of Ukraine, the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrial countries reaffirmed their support for Ukraine, saying they were prepared to provide Kyiv with aid for as long as it was needed in the fight against Russian forces.

“We underscore Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence, and right for self-defense under the UN Charter. This war of aggression has reaffirmed our determination to reject outright attempts to redraw borders by force in violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the G7, which consists of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan.

Kharkiv had been under heavy bombardment by Russian forces since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, but it never fell. The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment of the conflict on May 13 that Ukraine appeared to have won the “battle of Kharkiv,” noting that Ukrainian forces had prevented Russian troops from encircling, “let alone seizing,” the city.

Speaking during his nightly nationwide address on May 13, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that his country’s forces were making progress in their efforts to counter the Russian offensive and had retaken six towns and villages over the previous day.

However, neither side appears to be making major breakthroughs, and while Zelenskiy said that his military was doing everything it can to drive Russian forces from Ukrainian territory, “no one today can predict how long this war will last.”

Zelenskiy said the outcome will depend not only on the Ukrainian people, but on “our partners, on European countries, on the entire free world.”

Ukraine’s top military intelligence official, Major General Kyrlyo Budanov, gave a more optimistic assessment. Budanov told Sky News on May 14 that the “breaking point will be in the second part of August” and that “most of the active combat actions will have finished by the end of this year.”

“As a result, we will renew Ukrainian power in all our territories that we have lost, including Donbas and Crimea,” he said.

With reporting by Reuters and AP

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