Ukraine on May 16 prepared for a renewed Russian assault in the east as NATO said that Moscow’s invasion was not going to plan and its push to capture the Donbas has ground to a halt.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military said its counterattack around Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, gained momentum.

“We are preparing for new attempts by Russia to attack in Donbas, to somehow intensify its movement in the south of Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly address late on May 15.

“The occupiers still do not want to admit that they are in a dead-end and their so-called ‘special operation’ has already gone bankrupt,” he added.

Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Russian troops were being transferred in the direction of Donbas after withdrawing from Kharkiv following the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

The Russian invasion has been met with stiff Ukrainian resistance and has had numerous logistical issues.

Moscow’s initial objective appeared to be a large-scale occupation of Ukraine and the toppling of its government.

But Russia has been forced to withdrawn from areas around the capital Kyiv after failing to capture it and since mid-April has been focusing its efforts on eastern Ukraine.

Russia lost large numbers of men and much military equipment and was hit by economic sanctions, while Western states have provided Ukraine with military aid.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, meeting with top diplomats from the alliance in Berlin on May 15, said the war “is not going as Moscow had planned.”

“They failed to take Kyiv, they are pulling back from around Kharkiv, their major offensive in Donbas has stalled. Russia is not achieving its strategic objectives,” Stoltenberg said

“Ukraine can win this war,” he said, adding that the alliance must continue to offer military support to Kyiv.

Kyiv’s troops have made progress in the northern region and they have almost reached the border with Russia, according to interior ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko, although air raid sirens still sounded in Kharkiv city early May 16.

Arestovych said the retreating Russian forces were being sent towards Luhansk in the east.

“Their task is to take [the eastern city of] Severodonetsk,” he said. “Well, something is not working for them.”

Ukraine has deployed many of its newly received U.S. howitzers at the front lines, and Washington has delivered all but one of the 90 artillery pieces they were due to send, the U.S. embassy in Kyiv said.

In Estonia, NATO kicks-off some of the largest-ever exercises later on May 16. The scheduled exercise, codenamed Hedgehog, will last two weeks and involve 15,000 troops from 10 countries, including Britain, the United States, and non-members Finland and Sweden.

Both Finland and Sweden have conformed they will seek NATO membership, marking a historic shift.

Finland announced May 15 that it was seeking to join the alliance, while several hours later, Sweden’s governing party backed Stockholm’s bid for membership, which could lead to an application in days.

In Brussels, foreign ministers from the 27-member European Union meet on May 16 to discuss the situation in Ukraine and Russian sanctions. The meeting will be attended by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba.

On the ground in Ukraine, bitter fighting continued throughout the country.

In the western city of Lviv on May 15, regional governor Maksym Kozytsky said four Russian missiles hit military infrastructure near the border with Poland — the first time the city has been struck since May 3.

No casualties were reported, and Ukrainian armed forces said they destroyed two cruise missiles over the region.

In the south, the mayor of the southern city of Mykolaiv said blasts had been heard early May 16.

In the southeastern city of Mariupol, about 600 Ukrainian troops remained holed up in underground tunnels and bunkers under a steelworks there, fighting a rear-guard battle.

In his address, Zelensky said “very complicated and delicate negotiations to save our people” in the vast Azovstal plant continued daily.

The defenders’ wives have said there is very little water at Azovstal and their husbands have to drink service water previously used for the plant’s operation.