(Kyiv) Russia claimed new gains on the front on Monday, a few days before two crucial summits for Ukraine, whose forces are weakened for lack of recruits and sufficient deliveries of Western equipment.

Westerners are due to participate this week in a G7 meeting expected to result in an agreement on the use of frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine, as well as a “peace” conference in Switzerland where dozens of countries will be represented. , but not Russia.

“Units of the Eastern Troop Group continued to advance deep into the enemy defense and liberated the settlement of Staromayorské,” in the south of the eastern Donetsk region, the Russian Defense Ministry announced in its daily report.

In this region, where most of the fighting is concentrated, soldiers interviewed by AFP on Sunday described a situation that was at best “difficult”, even demoralizing, in the face of daily assaults.

Danylo Madiar, a 23-year-old soldier going by the nom de guerre “Macron,” admits that the situation has been “pretty tough” since the fall, after the Ukrainian counter-offensive failed and the Russians regained the initiative. This notably led to the fall of the fortress town of Avdiïvka in February.

The enemy “advanced strongly” and, on the Ukrainian side, “there were a lot of losses, it was difficult to hold the lines,” he admits. The drone operator sees pessimism among many of his comrades “after everything they’ve seen.” “For many, it’s difficult to remain optimistic,” he says.

For Oleksandr, a 36-year-old tanker, “the fiercest fighting takes place here”, around the towns of Pokrovsk and Chassiv Iar, two obstacles currently blocking the advance of Russian troops in the eastern region of Donbass.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week claimed the conquest of 880 km2 of land since the start of the year and around fifty localities by his army.

It also launched an offensive in the Kharkiv region (north-east) on May 10, seizing several villages before being slowed down by valuable reinforcements dispatched by Ukraine. Kyiv also fears a new assault in the neighboring region of Sumy, where an apparent Russian incursion was repelled on Monday.

In this regard, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday denied the fall of the village of Ryjivka, in the Sumy region, which had been announced a little earlier by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, whose troops are fighting in Ukraine.

A push by Russian soldiers into this border sector would further stretch the Ukrainian military system that must defend a front more than 1,000 km long.

“Regarding the village of Ryjivka, the occupier tried to carry out a propaganda operation there. Since this morning, the Russian flag (which was raised there) has been destroyed and there is no presence of the occupier,” Zelensky said on Telegram.

According to him, the “(Ukrainian) forces are in total control of the situation” in this area which had been partially occupied at the start of the invasion in February 2022 and before the Russian retreat from northern Ukraine the following spring.

In addition, one man was killed and two others injured in a Russian bombardment on the village of Dergatchiv, in the Kharkiv region, lamented its governor, Oleg Synegoubov.

On the Russian side, seven people were injured Monday in the border town of Chebekino: four jumped on a mine, including a Russian television cameraman, and three were victims of Ukrainian strikes, according to Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.

On the political level, a senior Ukrainian official responsible for the reconstruction of his country and well-known public figure, Moustafa Nayyem, announced his resignation, citing executive obstacles preventing him from fulfilling his mission.

He denounced “systemic obstacles” and “constant opposition” political and bureaucratic hampering the repair of infrastructure, at a time when Ukraine faces significant power cuts due to Russian bombing.