Somali police announce curfew in capital ahead of Sunday’s presidential election


RUSKA LOZOVA, Ukraine: The frontlines in Ukraine had shifted on Sunday as Russia advanced into the disputed eastern Donbass region and the Ukrainian military waged a counteroffensive near the strategic city of Izium, held by the Russia.
Near the northeastern city of Kharkiv, where Ukrainian forces have been attacking since the beginning of the month, commanders said they believed Russia had withdrawn its troops to reinforce positions around Izium in south.
Ukraine has won a string of successes since invading Russia on February 24, forcing Russian commanders to abandon an advance on the capital kyiv and then make quick gains to drive them out of Kharkiv, the second-largest city. from Ukraine.
Moscow’s invasion, which it calls a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists, has shaken European security. kyiv and its Western allies say the assertion of fascism is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression.
Finland’s president, who shares a 1,300 km (800 mile) border with Russia, confirmed on Sunday that his country would apply to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a major policy shift prompted by the Russian invasion.
NATO assistant secretary general expressed confidence that Finland and Sweden, which are also expected to confirm their intention to join, could be quickly admitted to the alliance, and concerns raised by Turkey could be overcome .
Since mid-April, Russian forces have focused much of their firepower on capturing two provinces known as Donbass after failing to take kyiv.
A British military intelligence assessment released on Sunday said Russia had lost around a third of the ground combat force deployed in February. Its offensive in the Donbass had fallen “significantly behind schedule” and was unlikely to make rapid progress over the next 30 days, according to the assessment.
On Saturday night, Ukraine received a morale boost with their victory in the Eurovision Song Contest, a triumph seen as a sign of the strength of popular support for Ukraine across Europe.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the victory but said the situation in Donbas remained very difficult and Russian forces were still trying to salvage some kind of victory in a region torn by conflict since 2014.
“They don’t stop trying,” he said.
“Nowhere to bury anyone”
Maintaining pressure on Izium and Russian supply lines will make it harder for Moscow to encircle hardened Ukrainian troops on the eastern Donbass front.
Izium straddles the Donets River, about 120 km (75 miles) from Kharkiv on the main road heading southeast.
“The hottest point remains the leadership of Izium,” regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said in comments posted on social media.
“Our armed forces have gone on a counter-offensive there. The enemy is retreating on certain fronts.
In Ruska Lozova, a village in wide open fields between Kharkiv and Ukraine’s border with Russia, Ukrainian commanders said they believed Moscow was redeploying troops to defend Izium while keeping opponents pinned down by artillery fire .
“The Russian attack on Kharkiv was destroyed and they understand that,” said Ihor Obolensky, who commands the National Guard and the volunteer force that captured Ruska Lozova eight days ago. “They have to go for another win and want to hold Izium.”
Both sides claimed success in the military strikes in Donbass.
Russia said on Sunday it bombarded Ukrainian positions in the east with missiles, targeting command centers and arsenals as its forces sought to surround Ukrainian units in the Battle of Donbass.
But the Ukrainian military also acknowledged the setbacks in a Sunday morning update: “Despite the losses, Russian forces continue to advance in the Lyman, Sievierodonetsk, Avdiivka and Kurakhiv regions in the wider Donbass region.”
In western Ukraine, near Poland, missiles destroyed military infrastructure overnight and were fired at the Lviv region from the Black Sea, Ukrainian officials said.
There was also no respite on Sunday in Russia’s bombardment of steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, where a few hundred Ukrainian fighters are resisting weeks after the town fell to Russian hands, the report said. Ukrainian army.
Talks were underway to evacuate wounded soldiers from Mariupol in exchange for the release of Russian POWs, Zelensky said.
A large convoy of cars and vans carrying refugees from the ruins of Mariupol arrived in the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia after dark on Saturday after waiting days for Russian troops to allow them to leave.
Iryna Petrenko, a 63-year-old woman in the convoy, said she initially stayed to care for her 92-year-old mother, who later died.
“We buried her next to her house because there was nowhere to bury anyone,” she said.
More weapons
Finland and Sweden have both said they see NATO membership as a way to boost their security, although Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that it would be a mistake for Helsinki to d abandon its neutrality.
Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats were set to vote on Sunday in favor of the country’s NATO membership, paving the way for a bid and abandoning decades of military non-alignment.
Germany said on Sunday it had prepared for a speedy ratification process.
“We have to make sure that we will give them security guarantees, there must not be a transition period, a gray zone, where their status is unclear,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said he had been “a bit confused” by Turkey’s position, which has raised objections to Nordic membership and, as a NATO member, could oppose its veto their candidacies.
“What we need now is a very clear answer, I am ready to have a further discussion with (Turkish President Tayyip) Erdogan on the issues he raised,” Niinisto said.
In addition to losing a large number of men and a lot of military equipment, Russia was hit by economic sanctions, while Western states provided military aid to Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin on Sunday and that “more weapons and other aid are on their way to Ukraine.”

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