Heavy fighting around Bakhmut shifts lines of control; Kyiv shoots down 18 Russian missiles

Heavy fighting around Bakhmut shifts lines of control; Kyiv shoots down 18 Russian missiles
A Ukrainian artilleryman handles a cartridge for a 2S3 Akatsiya howitzer at an undisclosed position near the outskirts of Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, 12 April 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Oleg Petrasyuk)

Ukraine said its forces advanced in the suburbs around the eastern city of Bakhmut in heavy fighting, even as Russian troops aided by artillery and reinforcements pressed ahead in the city itself.

Ukraine earlier shot down 18 missiles, including six hypersonic weapons, in an intense barrage launched on Kyiv, which injured at least three people in the capital.

Prosecutors detained the head of Ukraine’s Supreme Court and he was ousted from his post after investigators said had uncovered “large-scale corruption” at the nation’s highest judicial body.

Key developments

Russia burns through military budget

Russia produced as many tanks and armoured vehicles in the first quarter of 2023 as in the whole of 2022, and overall weapons production surged more than seven-fold, Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov said, according to the state-run Tass news service.

That helps explain why Russia spent almost half of its 2023 military budget in the first two months of the year, reaching $25-billion, according to the Finance Ministry. Military spending may exceed the full-year budget of $62-billion by as much as 20%, according to Alexander Isakov, Russia economist at Bloomberg Economics.

Russians push into Bakhmut as Ukraine captures suburbs 

Ukrainian troops have captured nearly 30km2 of territory north and south of Bakhmut over the past several days, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said on Telegram.

While Ukrainian forces made progress outside Bakhmut, Russian troops moved forward inside the city, obliterating it with artillery. Russians received reinforcements from elite paratrooper units, she said.

“Hard fighting with various results continues,” she said. The shift in control of the city comes before an expected counteroffensive in which Ukraine has said it plans to retake territory occupied by Russian forces.




Ramaphosa says African nations plan peace mission 

A delegation of African heads of state plans to travel to Moscow and Kyiv to present a peace initiative to help bring an end to the war, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 12 May and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky the following day. The South African leader has faced criticism from the US and other Western allies for his government’s refusal to back their criticism of the conflict.

Ukraine detains top judge in graft probe 

Supreme Court Chair Vsevolod Knyazev was detained on suspicion of taking a $2.7-million bribe, the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (Nabu) said.

Authorities discovered evidence that Knyazev had taken a $2.7-million bribe. “Top Supreme court officials were caught red-handed,” on 15 May, Nabu chief Semen Kryvonos said.

At an emergency meeting of the court, his dismissal was backed by 140 judges.

Germany calls for measures to stop countries dodging sanctions

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said the EU needed to consider further measures to prevent Russian sanctions from being circumvented.

“We are aware that there are countries that still deliver to Russia and this cannot be accepted,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels. “We want to have pressure on Russia. We have serious sanctions and they mustn’t be circumvented by countries that benefit. We’re working on it.”

Sweden says more sanctions needed, must close loopholes 

The European Union will need further sanctions packages against Russia but it must make sure the existing ones work and that loopholes are closed, Swedish Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson said.

“We can have many more sanctions packages, we will need to have that, but we also need to see that everyone is really implementing it, using it as it should,” she said on the sidelines of a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels. “We need more sanctions but we have to see that sanctions we have do work.”




France is ready to train Ukraine fighter pilots, says Macron 

French President Emmanuel Macron told the TF1 TV network that French training for Ukrainian fighter pilots would be coordinated with other European countries and added that discussions were also ongoing with the US.

While not ruling out a change in approach, the US hasn’t disavowed its position that providing Ukraine with fighter jets would be unnecessarily provocative. Macron’s comments came a day after the French leader hosted Zelensky for a working dinner in Paris.

China envoy begins tour as Xi aims to play peacemaker 

A top Chinese envoy began his tour of Ukraine and four other nations in Kyiv on Tuesday, in a trip designed to bolster President Xi Jinping’s credentials as a global peacemaker.

Ambassador Li Hui, special representative of the Chinese government for Eurasian Affairs, would visit the capital on Tuesday and Wednesday, a Ukrainian official told AFP and Reuters on Monday. It’s not clear whether Li will meet with Zelensky. DM


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