In the early morning hours on Sunday in Ukraine, these are the latest developments in the war:
Russia shifting focus to victory by early May in eastern Ukraine, US officials say: Russia has revised its Ukraine war strategy; to focus on taking control of the Donbas and other regions in eastern Ukraine; with a target date of early May; according to several US officials familiar with the latest US intelligence assessments and developments.
More than a month into the war, Russian ground forces have been unable to keep control of areas where they have been fighting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is under pressure to demonstrate he can show a victory; and eastern Ukraine is where he is most likely to achieve that; officials say. US intelligence intercepts suggest Putin is focused on May 9, Russia’s “Victory Day,” according to a US official.
May 9 is a prominent holiday on the Russian calendar; a day on which the country marks the Nazi surrender in World War II;with a huge parade of troops and weaponry across Red Square in front of the Kremlin. The officials say Putin wants to celebrate a victory of some kind in his war that day.
Ukrainian negotiator claims advances in talks with Russia, possibility of ‘direct consultations’ between Zelensky, Putin in future: David Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian negotiating team in talks with Russia; said the Russian side has responded positively to Ukrainian positions on several issues.
Arakhamia said there is a possibility of “direct consultations” between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin; something he said had been facilitated in part by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The status of Crimea; annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014 — has been a sticking point in potential negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine and most of the international community consider the peninsula to be illegally occupied.
The Ukrainian side said there had been agreement to suspend negotiations on the status of Crimea for 15 years, but the Russian side has not confirmed, and the Kremlin has publicly reiterated its position Crimea is part of Russia.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said there was no official confirmation of those positions in writing, according to Arakhamia.
However, Arakhamia added: “Orally, as of yesterday, in a video conference, we heard that the Russian side does not object to such [Ukrainian] positions.”
Credited source: cnn.com