Zelensky warns of a "tough week", Russian elites reportedly dissatisfied with Putin

24 May, 11:08 AM
A resident of the town of Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast next to a residential building ruined by Russian shelling (Photo:REUTERS/Anna Kudriavtseva)

A resident of the town of Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast next to a residential building ruined by Russian shelling (Photo:REUTERS/Anna Kudriavtseva)

Today, May 24, is the 90th day of Ukraine's defense against a full-scale Russian invasion. The third month of Russia's war is coming to a close.

5:45 pm: The Interior Ministry warns of a very hard month ahead in the Battle for Donbas.

"Despite all of our achievements in the first three months, what's now ahead of us is possibly one of the most difficult phases of this war," warned Interior Ministry advisor Vadym Denysenko.

"Of course, the active phase cannot go on for too long. Afterwards, depending on the results of this great battle for Donbas, we may be able to talk about where to go next. In front of us is a significantly difficult month of fighting for the Donbas."

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5:03 pm: Ukrainian forces has killed Major General Kanamat Botashov of the Russian Air Force, according to the BBC's Russian service.

The BBC says this report has been confirmed by several of Botashov's close associates.

According to the news agency, Botashov had been flying a Su-25 fight jet near Popasna on May 22, when he was shot down and killed.

This represents the highest-ranked Russian officer to be killed by Ukraine during the full-scale Russian invasion.

4:09 pm: The UK will not be sending its fleet to the Black Sea after all, according to a UK government spokesperson.

London will continue to look for ways to relaunch Ukrainian exports, despite the Russian blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports. However, a "coalition of the willing", proposed by Lithuania, may still take part in escorting Ukrainian grain ships through the Black Sea, without the UK's involvement.

3:37 pm: Russian forces have seized the town of Svitlodarsk in Donetsk Oblast.

The head of the Svitlodarsk military administration, Serhiy Khoshko, stated that Russian soldiers had hung the Russian flag on the city council building, and are checking the documents of the local residents.

2:36 pm: Four people have died as a result of shelling in Severodonetsk, regional governor Serhiy Hayday has said.

The shelling targeted the Azot chemical plant, Ukraine's largest chemical manufacturer, and the site of several bomb shelters for the city of Severodonetsk.

2:10 pm: The mayor of Lyman has said that that the town is in a difficult situation, under constant enemy shelling, and there are dead and wounded residents.

По словам мэра Лимана Донецкой области Александра Журавлева, в городе осталось около 7−8 тысяч человек. Желающие уехать из города есть, но в связи с интенсивным обстрелом города нет возможности эвакуировать людей.

The mayor, Oleksandr Zhuravlev, 7,000-8,000 people remain int eh town. Many would like to evacuate, but the current high level of hostilities has precluded this option.

1:20 pm: Ukraine is unlikely to receive an accelerated timetable for EU candidate status, says the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte.

"Too many countries in the EU don't like this idea," he said, attempting to explain opposition to a quick road to EU membership for Ukraine.

"It would be unfair to the countries of the Western Balkans, which have been waiting much longer for membership as a candidate."

1:02 pm: Major Maksym Kyrychuk of the Ukrainian Armed Forces perished in the line of duty on May 22, the Borova Village Council in Kharkiv reports.

Major Kyrychuk commanded a motorized infantry battalion. He had been defending Ukraine since 2014, immediately after the start of the war, serving tours in Debaltseve and in multiple other hot spots.

12:42 pm: Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has said his last works in court, warning the Putin regime that they will be defeated in their "stupid war" in Ukraine.

Navalny, who had previously been sentenced to nine years imprisonment on falsified charges of fraud, appeared via video link in an appellate hearing about complaints he has filed about his trial.

"Do you want to halt progress?" Kira Yarmysh, Navalny's press secretary, quoted Navalny as saying.

"You can break many fates, but you will fail both here and in the stupid war you are waging. I am certainly ready to go to jail to tell everyone that people are dying."

The court left Navalny's sentence as is.

12:17 pm: Nearly 80% of Ukrainians are opposed to territorial concessions to secure peace, according to a survey taken by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.

Only 10% of survey respondents agreed that it would be alright to give up on some territories in order to earn peace and preserve independence.

10:32 am: The UK is ready to send a warfleet to the Black Sea to escort ships carrying Ukrainian grain, reports UK newspaper The Times.

The Times, citing their own sources, says that UK Foreign Minister Liz Truss has already approved the idea, and is currently in negotiations with the United States.

10:02 am: Russia has redeployed a division of Iskander ballistic missile systems in Belarus closer to the Ukrainian border, says Ukraine's General staff.

"The risk of a rocket and air strike strike on government structures from Belarusian territory is growing," the General Staff reported.

"The aggressor has redeployed a division of Iskander-M systems to Brest Oblast (in Belarus) at a distance of 50 km from the state border of Ukraine."

09:25 am: Independent Russian media outlet Meduza claims that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has set the Russian elite against himself, and the Kremlin is choosing a successor.

Russian elites are constantly growing more dissatisfied with Putin – both those who have made statements in support of the war, and those again.

09:09 am: Total Russian losses taken so far, according to the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces

  • Manpower — 29350 (+150)
  • Tanks — 1302 (+9)
  • Armored fighting vehicles — 3194 (+28)
  • Artillery systems — 606 (+2)
  • Multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) — 201 (+0)
  • Anti-air defenses — 93 (+0)
  • Planes — 205 (+1)
  • Helicopters — 170 (+0)
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — 480 (+4)
  • Cruise missiles — 112 (+2)
  • Boats/cutters — 13 (+0)
  • Motor vehicles — 2213 (+7)
  • Specialized equipment — 43 (+0).


In his nightly address to the nation, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that the coming week will be a "tough one", and that the Russians have started a slaughter in Donbas.

"The most difficult combat situations in the Donbas are in Bakhmut, Popasna, and Severodonetsk," Zelensky said.

"The enemy is focusing the majority of its activities in these directions. They've set up a slaughter and are trying to eliminate everything living there. No one has ever destroyed Donbas to the extent that Russians soldiers are now doing today."

"The coming week will be a tough one, but we have no alternatives other than to fight."

Satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies published photos of Ukrainian grain being loaded onto Russian ships in the occupied port of Sevastopol.

The heaviest fighting in Donbas is occurring around the towns of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, Ukraine's General Staff reports. Russian forces are attempting to encircle both, and then move to seize the rest of Luhansk Oblast, up to the administrative border. Over the course of the previous day in Donbas, Ukrainian troops repelled 16 enemy attacks, destroyed 8 tanks, 22 armored vehicles, and 1 motor vehicle.

The General Staff also warned that the Russians are attempting to fortify their positions in Kharkiv Oblast, and are readying for a fresh assault.

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