Ukraine fights off fresh assault on Bakhmut; Olaf Scholz says western-supplied weapons will not be used to attack Russian territory
Ukraine announced it had fought off a fresh Russian assault on the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut on Saturday, as it endured renewed shelling in the Donetsk region. In his evening address, Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy acknowledged that the situation was getting tougher. Russia, he said, was “throwing more and more of its forces at breaking down our defence. It is very difficult now in Bakhmut, Vugledar, Lyman and other areas”, referring to the frontline cities in the east of the country.
The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said Zelenskiy has agreed that weapons supplied by the west will not be used to attack Russian territory. “There is a consensus on this point,” Scholz told Bild am Sonntag. Scholz rejected Vladimir Putin’s comparison of the intervention of the west with Russia’s struggle during the second world war as “absurd”. “We have carefully weighed each delivery of weapons, in close coordination with our allies, starting with America,” he said, adding that such a consensus-based approach “avoids an escalation”.
Portugal has become the latest country to say it will send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, the prime minister, António Costa, said. An inventory has been done of its stocks, with Lisbon asking Germany for parts to help repair them so they can be deployed to Ukraine.
Zelenskiy spoke to UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, on Saturday. The president said he had thanked Sunak for the training of Ukrainian troops so they will be able to use British Challenger tanks.
The Ukrainian president has revoked the citizenship of several former influential politicians, in what he said was another step to “cleanse” the country of pro-Russian influences. Zelenskiy would not list the names, but said they had dual Russian citizenship. According to Ukrainian state media, the list includes several top politicians from the office of Viktor Yanukovych, who served as Ukraine’s pro-Russian president from 2010 until he was removed from office in 2014.
The US attorney general, Merrick Garland, has authorised the country to begin using seized Russian money to aid Ukraine, according to US media. The money would come from assets confiscated from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev after his April indictment for alleged sanctions evasions, he added.
Ukraine has introduced emergency energy shutdowns in Odesa after a “technological accident” at a high-voltage electricity substation, which has previously been damaged by Russian attacks. Half a million people are without power and officials have warned repairs could take weeks. The government said it would appeal to Turkey for help and ordered the energy ministry’s stocks of high-power generators to be sent to the city.
Germany has collected evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, the country’s prosecutor general said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday, adding that he saw a need for a judicial process at international level. He said the amount of evidence was in the “three-digit” range.
More than 18.1m border crossings have taken place out of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February 2022, according to data from the UN.
The bodies of killed British volunteers Christopher Parry and Andrew Bagshaw have been returned by Russian troops in a prisoner exchange. They were both killed in Ukraine last month. A total of 116 Ukrainian troops have come home after being captured, with 63 being sent back to Russia.
The number of Russian soldiers around the southern city of Mariupol has increased by about 10,000 to 15,000, according to an adviser to the city’s mayor. Petro Andriushchenko wrote on Telegram that it means the total amount of troops is now about 30,000. They are stationed in villages in the district.