US Senate Republican Leader Brings Delegation to Kiev, Meets with Zelenskiy

When Kyiv said Kremlin forces had withdrawn from areas near Kharkov, Ukraine’s second largest city, and what appeared to be the latest setback for Moscow’s military offensive, the Ukrainian army launched a counterattack near the eastern Russian-controlled town of Izyum.

The Ukrainian General Staff said on May 14 that Russian forces are launching mortars, artillery and air strikes on the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine with the aim of “depleting the Ukrainian forces and destroying the fortifications”, focusing on protecting the supply routes.

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Ukraine had “entered a new, long-term phase of the war”.

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Meanwhile, US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell headed a delegation of Republican senators who made a surprise visit to Kiev to show support for Ukraine in its fight against the unprovoked Russian invasion.

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

Apart from Ukraine, Group of Seven (G7) leading industrial countries reiterated its support for UkraineHe said they were ready to provide assistance to Kiev as long as needed in the fight against Russian forces.

“We underline Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and right to self-defense in accordance with the UN Charter. “The G7, made up of the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan, reaffirmed our determination to reject any attempt to forcibly redraw borders in this war of aggression, violating sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Kharkiv has been under heavy bombardment by Russian forces since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, but it never fell. The US-based Institute for War Studies, in its final assessment of the conflict on May 13, noted that Ukraine appeared to have won the “war of Kharkov”, noting that Ukrainian forces had prevented Russian troops from “grabbing”, “let alone capturing” the encirclement of the city.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a nightly nationwide speech on 13 May that his country’s forces had made progress in their efforts to counter the Russian offensive and had retaken six towns and villages in the previous day.

However, neither side appears to be making great progress, and although Zelenskiy says his army is doing everything it can to drive Russian forces from Ukrainian soil, “no one today can predict how long this war will last.”

Zelenskiy said that the result will depend not only on the people of Ukraine, but also on our partners, European countries and the whole 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 half of August” and that “most active combat actions will be finished by the end of this year.”

As a result, we will renew Ukrainian power in all our lost lands, including the Donbas and Crimea,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was impossible to determine how long the conflict would last, claiming that the West was planning to wage a “complete hybrid war” against Russia.

He added that attempts by Western nations to isolate Russia with a wide variety of sanctions are doomed to failure.

Russian forces have suffered high casualties since their invasion of Ukraine in late February, and their continued offensive in the east of the country has yielded minimal territorial gains and is widely seen to be behind schedule.

But as Russia failed in its attempts to both quickly take all of Ukraine and encircle Ukrainian troops in besieged areas, Kyiv now sees the war enter a “third phase” in which Russian forces will attempt to defend the territory they have captured.

“This shows that they are planning a long war,” Viktor Andrusiv, adviser to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, told television on May 13. “Moscow seems to think that by prolonging the war in this way they can force the West to negotiate. bring it to the table and get Ukraine to surrender.”

Zelenskiy said “very difficult negotiations” are underway with Moscow to evacuate Ukrainian forces from the southeastern port city of Mariupol.

Dozens of seriously injured Ukrainian personnel are stranded at the city’s Azovstal metalworks, the last Ukrainian bunker in the city, the target of a seven-week siege by Russian forces.

On May 14, the British Ministry of Defense said that the civilian administration, which was made responsible for the Kherson region in southern Ukraine by the Russian army, would ask Moscow to include the region in the Russian Federation.

The British Ministry of Defense said on Twitter that if the occupied region held a referendum, the vote would almost certainly be manipulated to show that a clear majority of the region’s population wanted to secede from Ukraine.

On May 11, the Zaporizhzhya Regional Military Administration in southeastern Ukraine said that Russia had not changed its war plans, which it said required occupying Ukrainian territory and creating false republics in the southern regions.

With reporting by AP, Reuters and dpa

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