Ukraine accuses Russia of involving its ally Belarus in the war; Moscow advances in the Donbass

The diplomatic tensions in the midst of the war in Ukraine become more opaque with the denunciations by the Ukrainian authorities, who accuse Russia of involving Belarus in the war. The accusations made by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, came after about 48 missiles fell on Ukrainian territory from the territory of the Russian ally. On the other hand, this Saturday the city of Severodonetsk fell definitively at the hands of the Kremlin troops.

The Ukrainian authorities assured that the Russian troops launched dozens of missiles on Ukrainian territory during the early hours and on Saturday. They have indicated that the goal would be to divert attention from the Donbass region and Lugansk and further involve Belarus in the war against Ukraine.

“48 Russian cruise missiles. Overnight. Throughout Ukraine. Exclusively against civilian objects,” Mikhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Ukrainian Presidency, wrote on Twitter.

He also insisted that Russia still tries to continue to intimidate Ukraine, causing panic and causing people to be afraid of “Z monsters”, referring to the letter that the word “Za” (in favor of) begins with and that it has become a symbol of support for Russia.

These alerts further strain the differences between Moscow and the West. Furthermore, they take place after Lithuania decided to stop the transport of some goods through its territory to the Russian region of Kaliningrad as part of the European Union’s sanctions against the Kremlin.

Some political players in the West have long warned that Russia may be targeting military action to secure a land corridor between its ally Belarus and the Kaliningrad region through the so-called Suwalki Gap, a 65-kilometre (40-mile) strip of land. in Poland along the border with Lithuania.

Russia to supply Belarus with Iskander-M tactical missiles

In the midst of this fragmented diplomatic scenario, on Saturday morning the leaders of Russia and Belarus held a meeting where they announced new cooperation agreements.

Vladimir Putin maintained that “as we agreed, you raised it, we have made a decision. In the coming months we will supply Belarus with Ikander-M tactical rocket systems”, which can be used as ballistic or cruise missiles, both with nuclear charges and conventional”.

For his part, the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, expressed to Putin his concern about the training flights of US and NATO aircraft that would be capable of carrying nuclear weapons. “They are testing how to transport nuclear weapons. You, please, help us to adapt our planes,” said the president.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 25, 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 25, 2022. via REUTERS-SPUTNIK

The meeting between the two presidents took place within the framework of a three-day visit by Lukashenko to Russia, in which the meetings with Putin on the first two days were informal and closed to the press.

“The missiles will not break the spirit of the Ukrainians”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, through a recorded message, stated that Ukraine will recapture all the cities it has lost to Russia, including Severodonetsk, which finally fell to Moscow’s forces earlier in the day, consolidating the advance of Kremlin troops in the Lugansk region, to the east of Ukraine, in Donbass.

“It’s not just the destruction of our infrastructure. It is also a very cynical and calculated pressure on our people’s emotions, but we will not be under pressure, we will apply pressure. No Russian missile, no attack can break the spirit of the Ukrainians, and each of their missiles is an argument in the negotiations with our partners,” the president said.

In addition, he insisted that the Russian missile attacks confirmed that the sanctions against Russia were not enough to help Ukraine, therefore, he has said that it needs more weapons.

A Ukrainian tank during heavy fighting on the Severodonetsk front on June 8, 2022.
A Ukrainian tank during heavy fighting on the Severodonetsk front on June 8, 2022. ©AP (Archive)

“Air defense systems, modern systems that our partners have, shouldn’t be in training camps or in storage, but in Ukraine, where they are needed now, they are needed more than anywhere else in the world,” he said.

For his part, the spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Igor Konashénkov, confirmed the taking of Severodonetsk this Saturday: “People’s Militia Units of the Lugansk People’s Republic under the command of General Sergei Surovkin and as a result of successful offensive actions completely liberated the towns of Severodonetsk, Borivske, Voronove and Syrotyne”.

Serghiy Gaidai, Governor of Lugansk, wrote on his Telegram account that at the moment it is only possible to leave Severodonetsk through the temporarily occupied territories.

“The Russians established order in the city, appointed a ‘commander’ and filmed propaganda stories of civilians emerging from Azot shelters,” the governor said.

Thus, when the war in Ukraine has already lasted four months, Moscow is getting closer to conquering the entire Lugansk region.

Also this Saturday, according to pro-Russian forces, separatist troops entered neighboring Lysychansk, where savage fighting has been taking place in recent hours against the Ukrainian resistance.

With EFE, Reuters, AP and AFP

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