Photo: Reuters

Sunday’s Coverage: Kyiv Rebuffs Macron’s Mediation and Call Not to “Humiliate” Russia

Source: Institute for the Study of War


The US Justice Department has ordered the seizure of two aircraft owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, declaring that they have been used in violation of sanctions over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Department said in court filings that the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and Gulfstream G650ER executive jet were flown into Russian territory, violating US export controls imposed on American-made aircraft on March 2.

Abramovich has already been sanctioned by the UK and forced to sell holdings such as Chelsea Football Club.

Andrew Adams, director of the Justice Department’s KleptoCapture Task Force, said the seizure seeks to “incentivizing people who are close to the Kremlin to distance themselves from the Kremlin and from the Russian state as it continues to ramp up the war”.

Both aircraft, valued at $400 million, are believed to be currently in Russia and possibly in Dubai.

“We will take active steps to pursue seizure, and we’ll keep an eye out to see if they move jurisdictions,” said Adams.

The US Commerce Department issued a letter officially charging Abramovich of knowingly violating US blocks on specific technologies and goods from being exported to Russia. The charges may carry financial penalties up to double the value of the transactions.


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Sievierodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine are “dead cities today” after sustained Russian shelling and ground assaults.

Zelenskiy noted the massive Russian offensive is “more numerous and more powerful”, but he said Ukraine’s forces had “every chance” of fighting back and are “holding on” in Sievierodonetsk.


Journalist and author Andrei Soldatov has been targeted by Russia’s Interior Ministry because of his analysis of the Putin regime and the invasion of Ukraine.

The Ministry listed Soldatov as wanted under an unspecified article of the criminal code.

Soldatov noted that the intimidation is similar to that against two journalists accused of spreading “fake information” about Moscow’s “special military operations”.

Soldatov spoke with Monique Camarra and me last month, for EA’s partner Euro-6, about Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence services.


A Moscow court has fined US Government-funded outlet Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe 20m roubles ($325,214) over content about the Russian invasion.

Russia’s communications authority Roskomnadzor blocked the websites of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and other foreign media in early March.

US media outlets were summoned to Russia’s Foreign Ministry for complaints and warnings by spokesperson Maria Zakharova.


Ukrainian partisans are stepping up attacks against Russian occupiers and their local collaborators.

Reports said six Russian border guards were killed last week by firing on their position near the Zernovo border checkpoint in northern Ukraine.

Two days later, an explosive was detonated near the office of Yevgeny Balitsky, a Russian proxy official in Melitopol in the south of the country. The attack followed a reported assassination attempt on Andriy Shevchyk, the Russian proxy “mayor” of Enerhodar, badly injuring him in the blast.


Citing a safety risk at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi says that he wants to lead a mission of experts to the complex in southern Ukraine.

Grossi told the IAEA Board of “a clear and present risk to the safety, security and safeguards at the nuclear power plant”. He noted Ukraine’s concerns about the supply of spare part, and said the Russians are not transmitted data on nuclear material to the IAEA.

Zaporizhzhia, with six of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors, was occupied by Russian forces in the first days of their invasion.


Another Russian general has been killed in Vladimir Putin’s invasion, this time in eastern Ukraine.

Russian State media reported the death of Maj. Gen. Roman Kutuzov without giving details such as location. The Russian Defense Ministry did not comment.

“The general had led soldiers into attack, as if there are not enough colonels,” wrote Alexander Sladkov, a war correspondent for state-owned media.

Ukrainian naval infantry officer Dmitry Ivanov claimed that Kutuzov commanded the 1st Army Corps of the Russian proxy “Donetsk People’s Republic”. Echoing Sladkov, Ivanov said the general “was forced to lead the assault” when he ordered troops to storm a settlement in the Donetsk region on Sunday.

Kutosov is the 13th Russian general reportedly slain since the February 24 invasion. An admiral has also been killed.

Ukraine’s military says Russia has lost more than 31,500 troops. The Russian Defense Ministry has not issued a figure since it claimed on March 25 that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed.


Eyewitnesses say invading Russian forces killed the mayor of Hostomel, near Kyiv, and two volunteers, as the Russians sought a staging area for entry into Ukraine’s capital in late February.

Mayor Yurii Prylypko had filmed a video message for residents:

I’m here with you. We have to resist. The weapons are coming. Our soldiers are coming. We will get through this. We just need to keep calm and protect the people around us. Thank you!

Days later, Russian soldiers killed Prylypko and Ivan Zorya as they tried to deliver medicines and other supplies. Another civilian, Oleksandr Karpenko, was killed as he attempted to save them.

Residents saw the bodies of Prylypko and Zorya lying on the street in the days following the shooting.

Russia’s initial plan was to seize Hostomel Airport, bringing in special forces for the invasion of Kyiv to spur the overthrow of the Zelenskiy Government.

But fierce Ukrainian resistance foiled the scheme, and the Russians had to depart the airport several days later.


Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai has updated on the Russian assault on Sievierodonetsk:

Our defenders managed to undertake a counter-attack for a certain time; they liberated almost half of the city. But now the situation has worsened a little for us again.

Citing the “standard scorched-earth tactics” of the Russians, he said evacuation of about 13,000 civilians in the city is still impossible.

Haidai noted that Russia is now targeting most of its shelling at Lysychansk, on high ground across the Siverskyi Donets River from Sievierodonetsk, “From there, it is much easier to defend and maintain a defensive line. They are still destroying houses and humanitarian aid centers.”

About 15,000 civilians remain in Lysychansk with a small number being evacuated.

The governor said Russia is devoting a “simply incredible” number of troops and equipment to bombarding the main road to Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, which runs from Bakhmut to Lysychansk: “The Russians do not control this road, but the entire route is being shelled.”

He added that the commander of the Russian invasion, Gen. Alexander Dvornikov has been given a deadline to seize or completely encircle Sievierodonetsk by June 10.

Dvornikov was tasked in early April by Vladimir Putin to lead the invasion after Russian forces — with no overall commander in the first six weeks — had failed to capture Kyiv and withdrawn from northern Ukraine.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Serbia has been cancelled after neighboring countries — Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Montenegro — closed their airspace to his aircraft.

“Our diplomacy has yet to master teleportation,” a Russian Foreign Ministry official said.

The trip was supposed to highlight the Serbian Government’s ongoing links with Moscow despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, who is close to Vladimir Putin, has refused any involvement in international sanctions. He agreed last month that Belgrade will pay Russia in roubles for gas, as other countries rejected Putin’s ultimatum.

Vučić will address the nation on Monday night about the cancellation of Lavrov’s visit.


President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has visited troops on the frontlines in eastern and southern Ukraine.

In a symbolic defiance of Russia’s offensive in the Donbas, Zelenskiy visited command posts and troop positions in Lysychansk, one of two major cities in the Luhansk region which Russia is trying to overrun, and in the Bakhmut area in the Donetsk region.

Earlier in the day, the President visited frontline troops in Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine.


The UK has announced a second tranche of support for International Criminal Court’s investigations of war crimes during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The aid will include the deployment of a police liaison officer, two police officers with expertise in the collection of intelligence ,and seven legal experts. War crimes investigation training, in collaboration with Norwegian police, will be provided to Ukrainian police.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan is visiting London on Monday to provide an update on the progress of the inquiry.


Spain is also expected to announce more military assistance to Ukraine, with supply of anti-aircraft missiles and Leopard battle tanks.

Sources told El Pais that training of Ukrainian forces will take place in Latvia, where the Spanish army has deployed 500 soldiers in NATO’s Enhanced Advanced Presence operation, and in Spain.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: The UK is following the US in the supply of advanced medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine, seeking to check Russia’s last-gasp offensive in the east of the country.

The UK confirmed the dispatch of the tracked M270 multiple launch systems on Sunday. Each can carry up to 12 rockets with a range of up to 80 km (50 miles).

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “As Russia’s tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine.”

Last Tuesday the Biden Administration, after days of debate, announced its delivery of both M270 systems and the wheel-mounted M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) version.

. The US rejected the dispatch of long-range systems with a range of up to 300 km (186 miles) because they could be used to strike far inside Russian territory.

With the Russians seeking to overrun the remainder of the Luhansk oblast in eastern Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said the systems will help Ukraine “more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield”.

A “British defense source” said the rockets will be used “to defend Ukraine, in Ukraine”: “We have confidence that the weapons will be used appropriately.”

The American and British launchers will take up to a month to deploy, but since the US announcement, Ukrainian forces have fought back in Sievierodonetsk, reclaiming about half of the devastated city.

The US-based Institute for the Study of War summarizes:

The ability of Ukrainian forces to successfully counterattack in Severodonetsk, the Kremlin’s current priority area of operations, further indicates the declining combat power of Russian forces in Ukraine….

Ukrainian counterattacks in Severodonetsk will likely force Russian commanders to commit additional degraded units and equipment to the area to halt successful Ukrainian efforts to roll back gains Russian forces took over a week to secure.

EA on Australia’s ABC: Will US Rockets Help Ukraine Stop The Russians?

Betraying his concern, Vladimir Putin blustered on State TV on Sunday that, if the US completed the delivery of the rocket systems to Ukraine, “We will strike at those targets which we have not yet been hitting.”

He did not specify the targets. However, early Sunday Russia fired missiles on Kyiv for the first time in more than a month.

Four cruise missiles, fired from Tu-95 bombers over the Caspian Sea, struck a railway depot in an eastern suburb of the capital. Ukrainian officials said a rail car repair works was damaged; Russia declared that it destroyed tanks sent by eastern European countries.

Another missile was downed by Ukrainian air defenses. Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear power operator, said one of the missiles flew “critically low” over the South Ukraine Nuclear Plant.

Oleksandr Kamyshin, the chairman of the board of Ukrainian Railways, knocked back Russian claims about the attack and pointed to Moscow’s assault on Ukraine’s infrastructure and food supplies:

There are no such tanks at the plant, as well as no military equipment. There are only cars that we repair. These carriages we need for export – these are, in particular, grain carriages.