Russia’s war in Ukraine is not going as Putin had hoped. That’s why there are always internal crunches. Now the Kremlin boss is deposing two top generals. Selenskyj, on the other hand, is confident of victory. All news about the attack on Ukraine can be found here in the ticker.
5:30 p.m .: Despite the defeat in the port city of Mariupol, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is convinced that the Ukrainian army has inflicted great damage on Russia’s armed forces. Ukraine “broke the backbone of the Russian army,” Zelensky said in a television interview broadcast on Saturday. “You won’t be able to get back on your feet for the next few years,” said the 44-year-old. Shortly before, the last more than 2,400 Ukrainian defenders of the port city in the south-east of the country had surrendered and been taken prisoner by the Russians.
Zelenskyy emphasized that Kyiv will take everything back. A return to the front lines before February 24 – the day Russia’s war of aggression began – will already count as a victory. “It will mean that they did not conquer us and we defended our country,” said the head of state. But getting there will be very difficult. In the end there is diplomacy.
3:15 p.m .: Strange incursion by Ukraine in the war against the Russian aggressor. The country has now set up a hotline that Russian soldiers can call to surrender. The idea came from intercepted phone calls from Russian soldiers who compared their military service to slavery and asked for help. The 2024 hotline has now been set up for this purpose. There soldiers can surrender and go into Ukrainian captivity.
12.50 p.m .: After weeks of fierce fighting, the Russian army claims that it has completely taken control of the Azovstal steelworks in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol. This was announced by the Ministry of Defense on Saturday night in Moscow. The sprawling industrial complex on the Azov Sea was the last place in the strategically important port city in south-eastern Ukraine that had not yet been fully under Russian control.
The Ukrainian side initially did not comment on the alleged capture of the plant. According to information from Moscow, a total of 2,439 Ukrainian soldiers holed up in Soviet-era bunkers have been taken prisoner by the Russians since May 16. The last group of 531 fighters was captured on Friday, it said.
The information cannot be independently verified. However, video recordings indicate that the remaining fighters are leaving the steelworks. A day earlier, a Ukrainian commander posted a video message at the plant calling on soldiers to protect their lives and stop defending Mariupol.
According to the US broadcaster CNN, the Ukrainians are now Russian prisoners of war and are being taken to the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. Natalia Zarytska, wife of an Azov fighter, told the station: “My husband wrote to me two days ago. The situation is really tough and terrible.” And further: “My husband is on the way from one hell to the other.”
12.46 p.m .: The Ukrainian general staff has registered a large number of Russian attacks in the country and pointed out the danger of air strikes from neighboring Belarus. According to the situation report on Saturday, the focus of the fighting is further east in Ukraine. There, eleven enemy attacks were fended off and, among other things, eight tanks were destroyed. The artillery shelling of Ukrainian positions is also continuing, it said. Ukraine also sees itself threatened by Russia’s ally Belarus, which is not officially a participant in the war.
In addition, ships of the Russian Navy are on the move in the Black and Azov Seas for combat operations and reconnaissance, the staff said in Kyiv. The military complained that the Russian occupiers were also using terror on the ground against the Ukrainian civilian population. For example, they prevented people from fleeing from the Cherson region they occupied to the territory controlled by Ukraine. The opening of humanitarian corridors is also blocked so that no food and medicine can be brought into the area. Elderly people, the sick and children were trapped there, it said.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had fired rockets at Ukrainian targets from ships in the Black Sea. In the Zhytomyr region, for example, weapons supplied by Europe and the USA were destroyed with Kalibr cruise missiles, sources in Moscow said. In addition, a military training camp near the port city of Odessa was attacked with rockets and artillery.
11:27 a.m .: Russia says it has destroyed a “large” shipment of western weapons in north-western Ukraine. The Russian army used “high-precision long-range sea-based weapons” of the Kalibr type to “destroy a large load of weapons and military equipment near the Malyn train station in the Shotoymr region,” the Defense Ministry in Moscow said on Saturday. Ukraine received the delivery from the “United States and European countries”.
According to the ministry, the western arms shipments were destined for Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region, which has been partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014. The fiercest fighting in Ukraine is currently taking place in the Donbass.
Among other things, Ukraine will receive artillery weapons, anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank weapons from the West. The government in Kyiv has been asking for more support for weeks.
09:54: The Russian troops have already conquered large parts of the Luhansk region. On Friday it was said that only the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, separated by a river, are now controlled by Ukraine. Both places were heavily bombed. On Saturday, “Sky News” reported from on site that Severodonetsk was now the “last nest of resistance” in Luhansk. The information cannot be independently verified.
Ukrainian representatives on the ground also told the Sky reporting team how they perceived the Russian debacle on the Donets River. There the Russians wanted to cross the river with so-called pontoon bridges, but they were ambushed by the Ukrainians. Hundreds are said to have died. The local Ukrainians celebrated the “botched plan” to “Sky News” and called the Russian operation a “suicide squad”. The troops would have used smoke as cover. But the Ukrainians waited and then launched a defensive action, eliminating a Russian battalion of an estimated 70 vehicles and hundreds of soldiers.
You can read more reports on the Ukraine conflict on the following pages.