Ukraine conflict – day 443: Chinese special envoy to visit Ukraine and Russia to promote peace talks
Updated 00:14, 13-May-2023
Ukrainian servicemen ride atop a tank on a road to the frontline town of Bakhmut. /Sofiia Gatilova/Reuters
Ukrainian servicemen ride atop a tank on a road to the frontline town of Bakhmut. /Sofiia Gatilova/Reuters

Ukrainian servicemen ride atop a tank on a road to the frontline town of Bakhmut. /Sofiia Gatilova/Reuters


• A Chinese special envoy Li Hui will visit Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia from May 15 to promote peace talks, according to China's foreign ministry. READ MORE BELOW

Russia's defense ministry have denied reports that Ukrainian forces broke through their positions along the front lines around the strategic city of Bakhmut, after claims Kyiv's long-awaited counter offensive was underway. READ MORE BELOW

Despite Ukraine's generals claiming some of their biggest battlefield successes in months - with the defense ministry reporting advances of around 2 km near Bakhmut - President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine's counteroffensive hasn't started yet. 

The chief of Russia's Wagner mercenary group said the situation on the flanks near Bakhmut, one of the key battlegrounds in the conflict, was unfolding in line with the "worst of all expected scenarios."

• Russia's military operation against Ukraine was proving "very difficult" but certain goals had been achieved, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said. 

• Britain has supplied Ukraine with Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles, a Western official said, which would allow its forces to hit Russian troops and logistics hubs deep far from the front lines.

• Ukraine has received $16.7 billion in financial aid from its Western backers so far this year, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko announced.

A Ukrainian drone attacked an oil storage depot in the Russian border region of Bryansk, according to the local governor.

The U.S. envoy to South Africa said he was confident that a Russian ship had picked up weapons in South Africa, a possible breach of Pretoria's declared neutrality in the Ukraine conflict.

Officials from Ukraine, Russia, Türkiye and the UN discussed proposals on a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain. Moscow has threatened to quit the agreement later this month over Western obstacles to its own grain and fertilizer exports, but Türkiye's defense minister said they were approaching an accord. 

• The EU is discussing its 11th package of sanctions against Russia, which will focus on those allegedly circumventing existing trade restrictions. Germany is reportedly leading calls urging caution against targeting China under the new sanctions.

• Two Russian soldiers from the country's far east have been sentenced to two-and-a-half years each in prison for refusing to fight in Ukraine, human rights group OVD-Info said.


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Chinese envoy to visit Ukraine

The Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs Li Hui will visit Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia from May 15 to communicate with all parties on a political solution of the Ukraine crisis, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday. 

Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, China has always upheld an objective and impartial stance, and actively promoted talks and negotiations for peace, said Wang Wenbin, the ministry's spokesperson.

This visit is another manifestation of China's commitment to facilitating talks for peace, Wang said, adding that it demonstrates that China always stands on the side of peace. 

Currently, the crisis is still escalating and the spillover effect continues to appear, Wang noted, adding that the international community is increasingly calling for a ceasefire and the easing of the situation.

China is willing to continue to play a constructive role and build more international consensus in areas such as facilitating peace talks and de-escalating the situation, aimed at making Chinese contributions to promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, he said. 


The battle for Bakhmut

Ukrainian forces have advanced by about 2 km around the Donetsk city of Bakhmut this week Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Friday.

However, she appeared to play down suggestions that Ukraine had already started a planned counteroffensive, calling on Ukrainians to disregard what she called Russian disinformation about the situation around Bakhmut.

Some Russian military bloggers said this week that Ukrainian troops had broken through parts of the front line. Moscow has denied the reports, saying the situation was under control.

"How does the enemy cover the battles in Bakhmut? (It) praises itself, talks about supposed success and invents stories about our military command," Maliar wrote on the Telegram messaging app.


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"At the same time, the enemy gives false information about the lack of weapons, which probably aims to justify the real situation."

She added that "the real situation" over the past week involved "the enemy fail[ing] to carry out its plans; the enemy suffered great losses of manpower; our defenders advanced 2 km (1.2 miles) in the Bakhmut sector; we did not lose a single position in Bakhmut this week."

Bakhmut has been the center of fighting Ukraine's east for the past ten months, with Moscow viewing it as a stepping stone to attack other Ukrainian cities. 

Kyiv has said that maintaining the defense of Bakhmut was freeing up Ukraine's military to prepare for its expected counteroffensive in other areas.

"Statements circulated by individual Telegram channels about 'defense breakthroughs' that took place in different areas along the line of military contact do not correspond to reality," the Russian defence ministry said in a Telegram post on Thursday.

"The overall situation in the area of the special military operation is under control," it added.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview with European broadcasters published on Thursday that a full-blown counteroffensive involving tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of Western tanks was still being prepared.

"We still need a bit more time," Zelenskyy said in an interview with European broadcasters.


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Source(s): Reuters

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