Today, May 30, is the 96th day of Ukraine's defense against a full-scale Russian invasion.
7:01 pm: The Armed Forces have forced the invaders to retreat from the village of Mykolaivka In Kherson Oblast.
According to the General Staff, the enemy took heavy casualties, spreading panic throughout other units in the area.
6:26 pm: An ammonia pipeline has been damaged in the Bakhmut region as a result of combat
Rescue workers at the scene have determined that the damaged section of pipeline carries approximately 250 tons of ammonia, but the leak is minor. However, settlements within a 4km radius may be effected.
5:37 pm: EU leaders say that they will not be able to come to a consensus on a Russia oil embargo during the May 30-31 EU leaders summit.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen confirmed that the EU is not yet ready to commit to such an embargo. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas commented that she believes such an agreement may be reached by the end of June.
5:16 pm: U.S. President Joe Biden has said that Ukraine will not be receiving long-range rocket systems that can reach Russian territoryAccording to Reuters, this does not rule specific weapons systems, but rather set restrictions on how these systems could be used. Ukraine is slated to receive units of U.S.-made HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems, with a maximum effective range of 70 km for non-long range rockets.
5:06 pm: Slovakia will transfer eight self-propelled Zuzana 2 howitzers to Ukraine
According to the Slovak Minister of Defense, Jaroslav Naď, Ukrainian soldiers are currently being trained to operate the system.
Zuzana 2 is a self-propelled 155mm howitzer with a range of 42 km. High levels of automation allows the Zuzana 2 to be operated with a crew of three, rather than four.
3:56 pm: An official from the Ministry of Internal Affairs has commented against the ban on male Ukrainian citizens leaving the country
"I suggest we introduce an insurance deductible, for example, of $3-5,000 – and allow free exit for those who paid the deductible. In any case, the total ban hurts us even more," said Interior Ministry advisor Viktor Andrusyv.
The ban is part of Ukraine's martial law status, preventing able-bodied male Ukrainians between the ages of 18-60 from leaving the country, to ensure that the country has enough reserves in case of total mobilization.
3:51 pm: Evacuation from Luhansk Oblast paused after Russians fire on evacuation vehicle, killing a French journalist
An armored evacuation vehicle was on its way to evacuate ten people from the oblast when it fell under enemy fire. A few rounds punched through the vehicle's armor, and fatally wounded a French journalist in the neck, who was reporting on the evacuation process. A policeman, also hit by fire, survived a shot that impacted his helmet.
3:42 pm: The situation in Severodonetsk is difficult, but there is some optimism to be had, says the Ministry of Defense
"As for Severodonetsk itself: the situation is difficult, street fighting is already ongoing in the outskirts," reported MoD press-secretary Oleksandr Motuzyanyk.
"Ukrainian servicemembers are holding back the storming actions of the enemy, which is also throwing manpower into the fray. Where it doesn't work for them, they retreat."
2:36 pm: The Ministry of Defense warns of an escalation in the Battle for Donbas
According to Deputy Minister Hanna Maliar, the enemy is building up forces to attack Slovyansk in Donbas and push back in the southern front.
"Russian occupying forces are conducting intensive fire along the entire line of contact, and are attempting to avoid artillery in the depths of their defense. The enemy is trying to conduct storming actions across the entire line of contact in Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts," she said.
12:53 pm: A Ukrainian court will take up the first case of sexual violence in wartime
Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova announced that she will be charging a Russian soldier with murder and sexual assault, marking the first time Ukraine's justice system will seek to hold an invader accountable for sexual violence.
The soldier, identified as Mikhail Romanov, belongs to the 239th Regiment of the 90th Guards Tank Vitebsk-Novgorod Division. According to an investigation, during the occupation of Brovary region in Kyiv Oblast in March, he broke into a house in one of the villages of the region and murdered the owner, then, drunk and with another Russian soldier, raped the murdered owner's wife. They threatened her with violence and even threatened to rape her child, who was nearby, investigators say.
12:20 pm: Invaders control a 100m wide strip of territory in Severodonetsk, says chair of the city's regional administration
"Combat is ongoing in the outskirts of Severodonetsk. From two directions – Novoaidar and Starobelsk, the enemy has managed to enter Severodonetsk, controlling a strip about 100m wide. They have not been able to make significant progress otherwise, our boys are holding the line," reported Roman Vlasenko, head of the Severodonetsk regional administration.
11:54 am: Third time's the charm - Poroshenko allowed to cross the border
Former president Poroshenko has been allowed to leave Ukraine on his third attempt, to a European People's Party summit in Rotterdam, says an MP from Poroshenko's European Solidarity party, Volodymyr Ariev.
11:20 am: Ukraine's Armed Forces have advanced 8-10 km forward in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya directions
"In the south of Ukraine...in several directions, Kherson Oblast and Zaporizhzhya, we've moved forward on average 8-10 kilometers and have pushed (the invaders) out of those settlements," said Interior Ministry advisor Vadym Denysenko.
10:40 am: Former president Petro Poroshenko has written a open letter to President Zelensky about his repeated trips to the Ukrainian border
Poroshenko has attempted to leave Ukraine twice, reportedly as part of an authorized parliamentary trip to Europe to represent Ukraine's interests at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and as his party's delegation to a European People's Party congress. Both attempts were denied by border guards, reportedly due to problems scanning the QR-code on his authorization documents,
The open letter calls for unity and coordination in pro-Ukrainian efforts, claims that the two prior refusals were illegal, and expresses the hope that these situations will not repeat themselves.
10:32 am: Urban combat has spread throughout Severodonetsk, forcing residents to move to deeper into the city
Regional governor Hayday has said that Russian forces are attempting to make their way deeper into the city.
10:08 am: Three victims have been identified as a result of the blast in occupied Melitopol
According to RIA Melitopol, the victims are two girls and a man, who have suffered unspecified wounds. One of the victims is believed to be Evheniya Zaitseva, the daughter of the deceased brother of Balytskyi, Oleh.
10:02 am: French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna has arrived in Kyiv
"Have just arrived in Ukraine in order to show France's support for the Ukrainian people," she tweeted in Ukrainian.
9:50 am: An explosion has occurred in the occupied city of Melitopol, near the suspected home of collaborator Yevhen Balytskyi
According to Russian propaganda outlet RIA Melitopol, clouds of black smoke can be seen in the district of the Kvartal shopping mall, where collaborator Yevhen Balytskyi is suspected to live.
Balytskyi, a former Ukrainian MP and member of the now-banned pro-Russian Opposition Platform - For Life party, has been declared by Russian authorities to be the "governor" of Zaporizhzhya oblast. Much of the oblast is occupied by Russian forces, but the oblast capital, Zaporizhzhya itself, remains free.
The Russian outlet speculates that the explosion may have been the work of Ukrainian partisans.
9:05 am: Total losses of the Russian military in their war against Ukraine, as of May 30:According to data provided by the General Staff of the Armed Forces, over the previous day, the enemy suffered the greatest losses in the Zaporizhzhya direction.
- Manpower — 30350 (+200)
- tanks — 1349 (+11)
- AFVs — 3282 (+12)
- Artillery systems — 643 (+12)
- Multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) — 205 (+2)
- Anti-air defenses — 93 (+0)
- Airplanes — 207 (+0)
- Helicopters — 174 (+0)
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — 507 (+3)
- Cruise missiles — 116 (+2),
- Boats/cutters — 13 (+0)
- Motor vehicles — 2258 (+18)
- Specialized equipement — 48 (+0).
8:59 am: Russia failed to provoke a mobilization in the pro-Russian territory of Transnistria
Odesa regional governor Bratchuk said this during an interview on Radio NV, however, he added that a "source of pressure" in that direction remains.
8:40 am: Russian forces have entered the outskirts of Severodonetsk, killing several local residents
That's according to a statement made by Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Hayday.
"Two citizens have been killed, five wounded. This is in regards to the north-east and south-east outskirts of the city," he clarified.
"Most of them were residents of a single neighborhood in the old district of the city. They were preparing food in their courtyard when a firefight broke out."
Severodonetsk and Lysychansk are currently in the midst of a fierce battle. The enemy is using all possible weaponry, including aviation.
"But our soldiers are solidly holding the line in order to prevent the enemy from penetrating deeper into the country," noted Hayday.
Earlier, Ukraine's General Staff reported that "the enemy is fortifying themselves in the north-eastern and south-eastern outskirts of the city of Severodonetsk."
8:25 am: Invaders shelled Dnipropetrovsk Obalst with artillery early Monday morning
Russian artillery strikes hit the region of Kryvyi Rih, near the settlements of Zelenodolsk and Apostolove. No casualties are reported, said regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko.
8:20 am: Russia conducted two missiles strikes against Odesa Oblast
Meanwhile, Russian officials have been busy pushing forward a variety of propaganda narratives, while attempting to deny other, rather more unfavorable ones.
In particular, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a number of statements over the previous day, starting with the claim that the reason Russia's war against Ukraine has taken so long – day 96 of a 3 day "special operation" – was due to Russian soldiers having orders to "categorically avoid attacks on civilian structures." The deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure across the country, including power plants, water pumping stations, hospitals, schools, and the majority of the city of Mariupol, however, testify that Lavrov's statement, like the majority of his pronouncements, is a lie.
The Russian FM also claimed that the complete capture of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast – Ukraine's Donbas – are an "unconditional priority" for the Russian Federation, a marked departure from earlier claims of "denazification" and "demilitarization" of the Ukrainian state as a whole.
The Foreign Minister accused France of playing a "key role" in developing what he calls "Ukrainian nationalism", despite attempts by French President Emmanuel Macron to play a mediating role in the Russo-Ukraininan war, going so far as to suggest that Ukraine may make territorial concessions to Russia. Ukrainians are categorically opposed to any notion of concessions.
Lavrov also pushed back against rumors of poor health circling around Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, saying that he doesn't think that any "sane person" would see in Putin any signs of illness.
Also in Russian commentary – Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church and noted pro-war figure, said he "understands" the Ukrainian branch of the Russian church's decision to declare independence from Moscow.
"I want to repeat this: we regard the suffering of the (Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate) with complete understanding," he said.
"We react with understanding to the fact that His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry and the episcopacy must today act is a maximally wise way, in order to not further complicate the lives of their faithful."
The Russian patriarch, a former KGB asset in good relations with Vladimir Putin, undercut those words by adding that "evil forces" are seeking to "drive a wedge between Orthodox peoples."
It is unlikely that he was referring to the leader of his own country, who ordered an unprovoked war of conquest on a neighboring country.
In the material world, Ukraine's Air Forces reported that over the course of May 29, they had destroyed five Russian drones, two cruise missiles, one tactical group, and an ammo cache, and that the Russians had lowered the intensity of their aerial actions and rocket attacks around Ukraine's border.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces in the eastern front in Donbas neutralized 39 invaders, a BMP infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), a BTR armored personnel carrier (APC), five armored fighting vehicles (AFVs), two artillery systems, three artillery tractors, and one fuel truck in an artillery strike that same day, according to operational-tactical group East.
Overall, the Armed Forces in the eastern front pushed back 14 Russian attacks.
Operational Command South reported that over the previous day, the Armed Forces were able to destroy a Russian command post, eliminating 67 invaders, 27 units of equipment, and a drone operation center. While news of the Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kherson Oblast has been scarce, reports suggest that Ukrainian forces have begun firefights in the outskirts of the oblast capital of Kherson itself.
According to the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), this counter-attack has likely disrupted Russia's near-term plans for the region.
In diplomatic news, President Volodymyr Zelensky's press office has said that the president is currently mulling over direct telephone negotiations with Putin, with the exchange mediated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has previously suggested that Turkey can play host to peace talks between Ukraine and Russia.
Turkey has also passed along to Ukraine a list of Russian boats suspected of carrying stolen Ukrainian grain, said the former leader of the Crimean Tatar people's representative group, the Mejlis, Mustafa Dzhemilev, after a meeting with one of Erdoğan's senior advisors.
He added that the two sides had agreed that Turkey would "get the situation under control."