A grinding artillery war in Ukraine


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Good evening. This is your Russia-Ukraine War Briefing, a weeknight guide to the latest news and analysis about the conflict.

The U.N. and the Red Cross sent a last-ditch evacuation convoy to the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, where about 200 civilians are believed to be trapped underground, along with the last Ukrainian soldiers defending the city.

American intelligence helped Ukrainian forces sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet in April, U.S. officials told The Times.

According to Russian news media, the worst atrocities in Ukraine are staged. We analyzed more than 50 hours of television to show Russia’s version of events.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the E.U.’s proposed embargo on Russian oil would be an “atomic bomb” on Hungary’s economy.

Get live updates here.

Emboldened by sophisticated weapons and long-range artillery provided by the West, Ukrainian soldiers have gone on the offensive against Russian forces, seeking to drive them back from the outskirts of the pivotal cities of Kharkiv and Izium.

Ukraine launched heavy shelling and an infantry assault supported by tanks and other armored vehicles, my colleagues Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Natalia Yermak report.

Neither side has been able to score a major breakthrough, emblematic of a conflict that has become a slow-moving grind that focuses on one village at a time. Artillery dominates the fighting, lobbing munitions from beyond the line of sight of opposing forces.

The weapons include multiple-launch rocket systems, some with ranges of roughly 20 miles; howitzers, with a range of about 13 miles; and heavier mortars, capable of lobbing shells about five miles.

Russian drones — especially the small Orlan 10, which sounds like a lawn mower — have proved to be a lethal, loitering presence. The drone’s ability to identify Ukrainian positions has meant that for every foot of ground that Ukrainian forces gain around Kharkiv, Russian artillery batteries respond with heavy shelling.

This dynamic has played out for days in Ruska Lozova. The town, just north of Kharkiv, was retaken by the Ukrainian military in late April. Russia is now firing a constant drone-aided barrage of artillery shells at the territory it once occupied, forcing terrified residents to evacuate.

The Ukrainians have their own drones — many of them small over-the-counter models — capable of delivering similar results.

Gauging the successes claimed by Russia and Ukraine is difficult, with one side taking a few villages one day, only to lose just as many along a different part of the 300-mile-long front.

But Ukraine’s assertion that it was shifting to offensive actions came as more sophisticated weapons and long-range artillery provided by Western allies were flowing to the front, allowing Ukraine to take more aggressive action.

At the same time, Russian forces appear to have escalated their attempts in and around the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk and the towns of Lyman and Barvinkove.

Some of the most ferocious combat took place there yesterday, with the earth heaving with constant artillery bombardment, my colleague Michael Schwirtz reported. Russian forces approached from the east, north and south, vainly trying to trap and destroy Ukrainian units.

Ukrainian forces in and around northern Donetsk appear to be holding the line for now, Michael reported, offering poor prospects for a Russian achievement there.


Follow our coverage of the war on the @nytimes channel.

The U.N.

The U.N. says there is evidence that Russian troops are looting Ukrainian grain stocks.

The top U.N. rights official told the United Nations Security Council that it had documented scores of cases in which Russian forces targeted civilian Ukrainian men.

The Bidens

President Biden will attend a virtual meeting with leaders from the Group of 7 countries and President Volodymr Zelensky of Ukraine on Sunday.

Jill Biden, the first lady, arrived in Romania for the first leg of her trip to Eastern Europe, where she will visit with refugees and tour the Slovakian border with Ukraine.


Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the German foreign minister would visit Ukraine, a sign that weeks of diplomatic bickering may have subsided.

Arms manufacturers geared up to restock the German military, spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back on Monday — Adam