Lauren Moye, FISM News
Missiles continue to pound eastern Ukraine even as world leaders say that Russia has failed to meet objectives in its “special military operation.” However, with the soviet nation’s attention now directed on the Donbas region of the country, the battle for Ukraine still rages fiercely.
Russia announced this morning that it had targeted two different Ukrainian command points and four artillery storehouses. Their bombardment also included the locations of 11 different military companies. In all, they targeted four different zones in the Donetsk region including areas near the cities of Baxmut and Kostyantynivka.
Russia’s reports have not been verified. At the same time, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters, “Russia’s war in Ukraine is not going as Moscow had planned. They failed to take Kyiv. They are pulling back for Kharkiv, and their major offensive in Donbas has stalled.”
On Saturday, the Ukrainian military said that Russian troops had withdrawn from their second-largest city despite bombarding it for weeks. Moscow also failed to capture Kyiv. Troops from both military campaigns have since focused their attention on the industrial heartland of Ukraine, the Donbas region. However, they have met stalwart resistance in the form of Ukraine’s most experienced and best-equipped troops so far.
The battle for Donbas appears to be one of attrition, with some towns and villages falling to Russian conquest while Ukrainian troops reclaim others. Ukraine recently reported that 89 of 90 M-777 Howitzers provided by the U.S. are now in the country with “many now deployed on the frontlines.” The Howitzers are known for their long-range and accuracy.
M-777 Howitzers in action. Part of the United States' most recent $800 million care package for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. All but one of the 90 Howitzers sent by the United States are now in Ukraine, many now deployed on the front lines. @GeneralStaffUA pic.twitter.com/B012LeV8uT
— U.S. Embassy Kyiv (@USEmbassyKyiv) May 15, 2022
Moscow is seeking to surround Ukrainian forces located between Izium, placed on the Donets River and about 75 miles southeast of Kharkiv, and Donetsk. As a counter-initiative, Ukraine seeks to keep pressure on Russian forces in Izium and to destroy military supply lines.
“The hottest spot remains the Izium direction,” regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said on social media. “Our armed forces have switched to a counteroffensive there. The enemy is retreating on some fronts.”
However, Kyiv did report setbacks in other conflict areas, noting this morning that Russian forces “continue to advance in the Lyman, Sievierodonetsk, Aviika, and Kurakhiv areas” of Donbas.
Russia continues to shell the Mariupol steelworks factory where a few hundred Ukrainian soldiers are still resisting.
Eurovision Victory Improves Ukrainian Morale
Ukrainians around the world have received a morale boost thanks to the nation’s Eurovision Song Contest victory. On Sunday, the Kalush Orchestra performed their original “Stefania” which combines rap and traditional folk music.
The entry was victorious in the Italian-hosted competition.
“We were very happy with Ukraine’s victory, and we hope that we will win not only at Eurovision,” Liubov Savinkova, a Kyiv resident, said in an obvious reference to the war, Reuters reported.
Because the song was also a tribute to the orchestra’s front man, the woman has also received new status in the country. Not only has she been recognized in the local marketplace and asked for photographs, but the number 43 train which runs from Kyiv to Ivano-Frankivsk will be renamed the Stefania Express in her honor.
“I didn’t connect it to myself, that the song was written for me. I thought someone had made a mistake and meant his girlfriend Sasha and got the names mixed up,” she told Reuters.
Finland and Sweden Seek NATO Membership
On Sunday, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto confirmed that his country would apply for NATO membership. The president told reporters, “Today, we, the president and the government’s foreign policy committee, have together decided that Finland … will apply for NATO membership.”
Finland’s top leader called Russian President Vladimir Putin to tell him of the decision. Niinisto stated the talk was “calm and cool” although Putin “confirmed he thinks it’s a mistake.”
Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats also announced today that they backed NATO membership, notably breaking the country’s neutrality. A released statement said, “The party board has at its meeting on May 15, 2022, decided that the party will work toward Sweden applying for membership in NATO.”
Both countries would have found NATO membership application unthinkable just a few months ago. However, the Russian invasion has shifted the policy mindset of both countries.
Turkey has raised concerns about the historically neutral countries joining the alliance. However, Stoltenberg has stated he is “confident” that Turkey’s concerns will be addressed “in a way that doesn’t delay the membership.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also went on record to voice similar sentiments, telling reporters, “I’m very confident we will reach consensus on that.”