Ukraine war: Five things you need to know this weekend

1. Lysychansk prepares for battle

Soldiers in Lysechhansk, eastern Ukraine, digging in the middle of heavy bombardment.

The city is preparing for possible street fighting as Russian forces clash with Ukrainian forces at Severodonetsk, which lies directly across the Donets River.

AFP journalists saw Ukrainian forces digging trenches to use as firing positions and erecting barbed wire and branch barricades in the center of Lysichansk, a strategic city in the Donbass region.

Burnt out cars were also dragged by tractors in an attempt to block the streets, with the noise of fighting clearly heard from the other side of the river.

“There could be a shooting here soon,” said Jaconda, a local resident, as she tried to persuade a reluctant man to leave his home. “You could end up surrounded,” she warned. “There will be no life here, but if you are evacuated, you will at least be safe and well.”

Earlier in the week, a Russian missile attack on the city’s House of Culture killed four people and burned down a Stalin-era building.

A mother, her daughter, a young man and a pregnant woman were killed. Everyone was sheltering there, having lost their homes in the fighting.

2. The funerals of a prominent activist who was killed in the fighting filled the streets.

Hundreds gathered in Kyiv on Saturday for the funeral of Roman Ratushny, a Ukrainian civic and environmental activist, who died in battle.

Huge crowds gathered at Kyiv’s golden-domed St. Michael’s Monastery for the 24-year-old’s birthday celebration, many carrying flowers and Ukrainian flags on their backs.

Ratushny, a scout, was killed during a combat operation on June 9 near Izyum, in the Kharkiv region, where Ukrainian troops are facing the Russian army.

A meeting is scheduled for Saturday noon on Independence Square in the Ukrainian capital, after Ratushny is buried at the Baykov Cemetery, the resting place of many Ukrainian notables.

greeting be proud of The young activist after his death was announced last week, with the NGO he heads Let’s Save Protasiv Yar saying it was “the best we have”.

Ratushny was one of the student protesters who were beaten by police on the first night of the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Ukraine, which led to the ouster of Russian-leaning Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Later he became a famous activist.

3. The Russians tighten their grip on Snake Island

The Russian army has tightened its grip on Serpent Island in the Black Sea by deploying several defensive systems.

Satellite images released this week show that several surface-to-air defense systems have been placed on the rocky island off the Ukrainian and Romanian coasts, with Russian ships stationed nearby to bolster their defensive shield.

Russia’s strengthening of its military presence at the strategic point comes amid the delivery of new artillery systems to Ukraine, which will increase its ability to strike distant targets.

“The Russians have deployed several anti-aircraft systems on the island covering different threat spectrums, SA-13, Pantsir, Tours, ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft systems,” said Pierre Grasser, a Russian security expert at the Sorbonne University, France. .

“They have recently strengthened their position by deploying different surface-to-air systems on the island and in buildings scattered around the island,” said a French military source, who asked not to be identified.

“Strategically, this makes sense, even in the face of new means from Ukraine.”

Ukraine recently acquired several mobile artillery systems from the West that would allow it to strike targets at least 30 kilometers (18 miles) from its coastline.

4. Loss of US foreign fighters on Russian TV

A Russian TV channel broadcast footage of two American volunteers fighting with Ukrainian forces who have been missing for several days.

US President Joe Biden told reporters on Friday that he did not know the whereabouts of the two men, Alexander Drewic and Andy Huynh, adding that “Americans should not go to Ukraine.”

And on Friday evening, Russian journalist Roman Kosarev – who works with the Russian public radio RT – posted on Telegram a video clip of an American speaking in front of the camera.

“Mom, I just want to tell you that I’m alive and I hope to get home as quickly as possible,” said Drucky, dressed in a military uniform and seemingly seated at an office.

“I love Diesel for me, I love you,” he added, concluding his video with a wink. Diesel is his dog’s name, according to American media.

The circumstances in which the two men spoke and who is holding them remain unclear at this point.

Relatives of the two former US soldiers have not been heard from since last week.

5. Russia releases the captive doctor who filmed the horror film “Maeropol”

Russian forces on Friday released a famous Ukrainian medic who documented the devastating bloodshed in Mariupol, after he was captured three months ago.

Yulia Bayevska, who has the nickname Tyra of Ukraine, recorded about 260 GB of her team’s efforts to rescue the wounded, including Russian and Ukrainian soldiers, in the besieged southern city.

The footage, recorded using a body camera, was smuggled out of Mariupol by reporters for the Associated Press.

One of them escaped with her in a tampon on March 15.

Tyra’s husband, Vadim Pozhanov, said: “It was a great feeling of relief. These sound like such ordinary words … I don’t even know what to say.”

Tyra and his colleague were captured by Russian forces on March 16, the same day a Russian air raid hit a theater in the city center, killing several hundred people.