Russian forces target kindergarten in Sumy Oblast with a guided bomb

Russian forces hit a kindergarten in Sumy Oblast with a guided bomb, the Sumy Oblast Military Administration reported on May 24.

Information on potential casualties and the extent of the damage is being clarified.

Introduced earlier this year, Russia’s guided bombs can be launched beyond the effective range of Ukrainian air defense systems, leaving Ukraine with as of yet limited options to counter them.

Sumy Oblast is located at Ukraine’s northeastern border with Russia. It has been the target of daily Russian attacks across the border since parts of the oblast were liberated from Russian control in early April 2022.

Ukraine strikes back around Bakhmut as Wagner reaches last streets in the city

On the evening of May 9, just half a day after a single T-34 tank rolled through Red Square during Moscow’s subdued Victory Day celebrations, something unexpected happened.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, announced that units of the Russian regular army’s 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade had fled their positions southwest of Bakhmut, the destroyed city in Donetsk Oblast, that has been for nine months the site of the bloodiest battle of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

A few hours later, Ukraine’s Third Assault Brigade confirmed Prigozhin’s claims that the 72nd was in flight, reporting their own capture of Russian positions west of a key canal running adjacent to Bakhmut.

A video published by the brigade on May 13 showed Ukrainian assault infantry, backed by multiple tanks and armored vehicles, surging forward across pockmarked fields, facing little resistance.

The next few days showed that this Ukrainian advance was not an isolated occurrence.

Since then, Ukrainian forces have reportedly made significant advances not only on the south but also the northern flank of Bakhmut near the villages of Khromove and Bohdanivka.

Here, according to geolocated footage and Russian Telegram channels, Russian regular military units abandoned their positions in a similar fashion.

According to the latest official information from the Ukrainian military, Ukraine has taken back more than 20 square kilometers around the city, including positions that Russian forces have held since February.

On May 18, the Third Assault Brigade once again reported a successful localized breakthrough on the western outskirts of Bakhmut.

Meanwhile, however, the battle inside the city continues to move in favor of Russian forces led by Wagner and Russian paratrooper units.

Netherlands allocating 260 million euros to purchase ammunition for Ukraine

Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren has announced allocating 260 million euros ($279 million) to jointly purchase ammunition for Ukraine with EU member states.

The funds will contribute to the second phase of a European Union’s plan to provide Ukraine with one million 155-mm-caliber artillery rounds.

The EU agreed to provide Ukraine with one million artillery shells on March 20. In the first phase, the bloc dedicated one billion euros to reimburse countries that could send their stockpiles right away. Another billion will be used for the joint purchase of new rounds, and the final part of the program will be the production of the remaining artillery rounds.

In April, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the EU had delivered more than 66% of the first tranche since Feb. 9.

The reimbursing measure applies to existing ammunition stocks of the program's participants "or from the reprioritization of existing orders" between Feb. 9 and May 31, 2023.

According to Borrell, the EU has already provided over 13 billion euros in military support to Ukraine.

US lawmakers urge Biden to transfer frozen Russian assets to Ukraine

U.S. lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden urging him to transfer frozen Russian assets to Ukraine, according to a May 23 press release from Congressman Adam Schiff's office.

The signatories of the letter wrote that past precedents, such as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and former U.S. President George W. Bush transferring $1.7 billion in Iraqi government funds to U.S. victims of terrorism paved the way for the U.S. to "repurpose Russian central bank assets frozen pursuant to U.S. sanctions to deliver much-needed assistance to Ukraine."

Each dollar would "make a critical difference" in Ukraine's war effort, given that the country's current budget requirements are estimated at $5 billion each month.

Ukraine's post-war reconstruction efforts will take over 10 years and cost upwards of $411 billion, the press release added.

The Kyiv School of Economics reported in late March that Russia's war against Ukraine had caused over $138 billion in damages across the country, including an estimated $36.2 billion in damages to infrastructure.

Other countries are already navigating the intricate legal procedures necessary to transfer Russian assets frozen after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

A press release from the Council of the European Union in mid-April reported that "intensive efforts are being made to enable frozen Russian assets to be used in the reconstruction of Ukraine."