Ukraine army chief says Russia making gains in east

The head of Ukraine’s military has warned the battlefield situation in the east of the country has “significantly worsened” in recent days.

Fierce battles are ongoing in a several villages in the eastern Donbas region.

Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi said Russia was benefitting from warm weather – making terrain more accessible to its tanks – and making tactical gains.

It comes as Germany said it will give Ukraine an extra Patriot missile defence system to fend off air attacks.

In his update posted to social media on Saturday, Gen Syrskyi explained the situation on the eastern front had deteriorated as Russia intensified its armoured assaults.

Battles have raged for control of Bohdanivka – a village west of the devastated city of Bakhmut, he said.

The settlement lies a few kilometres northeast of the town of Chasiv Yar, a Kyiv-controlled stronghold which Russia has been trying to reach after seizing the town of Avdiivka in February to the south.

Ukrainian officials say a slowdown in military assistance from the West – especially the US – has left it more exposed to aerial attacks and heavily outgunned on the battlefield.

Despite repeated assurances that he is dedicated to Ukraine’s defence, US House Speaker Mike Johnson has failed to advance a new military aid bill. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed fresh funding in February which included $60bn in aid for Kyiv, but conservative Republicans in the House objected to the bill as it did not include funds for border security.

Gen Syrskyi said without fresh aid and sophisticated weapons Kyiv would be unable “to seize the strategic initiative” from the numerically superior Russian forces.

Separately on Saturday, Germany vowed to give Ukraine an additional air defence system. Ukraine has made increasingly desperate appeals for supplies of air defence missiles in recent weeks.

On Friday, a major power plant near Kyiv was completely destroyed by Russian strikes. Trypillya power plant was the largest electricity provider for three regions, including Kyiv, officials said.

In response, Berlin has agreed to give Kyiv an additional Patriot missile system. It is capable of intercepting Russia’s most advanced munitions, including Kinzal hypersonic missiles.

Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said Russian strikes against Ukrainian cities and energy infrastructure were causing untold suffering.

President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Germany for the decision, calling it “a true manifestation of support for Ukraine”.

Since President Vladimir Putin won his stage-managed election last month, Moscow has stepped up air attacks on Ukraine.

Russia has, in recent days, unleashed three massive aerial strikes on its energy system, pounding power plants and substations.

Elsewhere, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said it has foiled an assassination attempt on the governor of the Kherson region, Oleksandr Prokudin. Officials said two men attempted to strike Mr Prokudin’s car with a Russian-manufactured drone.

“This was not the first attempt, and probably not the last one,” Mr Prokudin said a message posted to Telegram.

SBU officials also said they had detained 11 networks of Russian operatives since the start of 2024. SBU chief Vasyl Malyuk said in another Telegram post that this was in addition to 47 last year.

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