(Kyiv) Russia claimed new advances on the front on Monday, a few days before two crucial summits for Ukraine, whose forces are weakened by a 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.

A sign of a slow but constant progression of Russian units on the ground for several months, Moscow claimed Monday the capture of the village of Staromaïorské, in one of the rare sectors where the Ukrainian army had recorded territorial gains during its difficult counter-offensive last summer.

“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.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also underlined the same day that, across the entire front line, it was in the Donetsk region that the situation was “the most difficult”.

Soldiers interviewed by AFP on Sunday in this part of Ukraine where most of the fighting is concentrated also expressed their concerns about the daily attacks.

Danylo Madiar, a 23-year-old soldier who goes by the nom de guerre “Macron,” admitted that the situation had been “quite tough” since the fall, after the Ukrainian counteroffensive failed and the Russians regained the initiative, leading to the fall of the fortress town of Avdiivka 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 admitted. This drone operator noticed that pessimism was gaining on many of his comrades “after everything they saw.” “For many, it’s difficult to remain optimistic.”

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 since the start of the year and around fifty localities by his army.

The latter also launched an offensive on May 10 in the Kharkiv region (northeast), seizing several villages before being slowed down by valuable reinforcements sent 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, President 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.

“If acting from 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.

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 bombing of the village of Dergatchiv, in the Kharkiv region, lamented its governor, Oleg Synegoubov.

And seven people were injured in new strikes on the eponymous city, the second largest in Ukraine, according to authorities.

“There were three attacks with guided bombs” dropped by planes, said its mayor Igor Terekhov.

On the Russian side, seven people were injured on Monday in the border town of Shebekino: four were injured by a mine, including a Russian television cameraman, and three were victims of Ukrainian shelling, said 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.