Ukraine: Russia pushes for control of Donbas

KYIV, Ukraine –

Ukraine’s military has fiercely fought in the streets with Russian troops in the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk, while other towns are under constant shelling, as the Kremlin pushes for control of the eastern Donbas region.

Sievierodonetsk became the primary target of the Russian offensive in the Donbas, including the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, as the invasion unfolded in a war of attrition that left cities devastated by artillery barges. soldiers.

“In the city, fierce street fighting continues,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address Monday.

“They outnumber us, they are stronger,” Zelenskyy told reporters at a briefing. But Ukrainian forces have “every chance” to fight back, he added.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Russia is also sending troops and equipment to capture the largest remaining city of Ukraine in Luhansk.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said earlier on Monday the situation had worsened after Ukrainian defense forces pushed back the Russians over the weekend when they appeared to be close to victory.

In its nightly update, the Ukrainian military said two civilians were killed in Russian shelling in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Monday and that Russian forces fired on more than 20 communities.

In addition to shelling, the enemy also fired from planes and helicopters in the Donetsk region, the General Staff of Ukraine said on Tuesday.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the battlefield reports. Russia denies targeting civilians during the conflict.

Russia said it was on a mission to “liberate” Donbas – partly held by Moscow’s separatists since 2014 – after Ukrainian forces pushed back their troops from the capital Kyiv and the second city. Ukraine’s two were Kharkiv in the early stages of the war.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, but called its action a “special military operation” to eliminate what it sees as a threat to its security. Ukraine and its Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a territorial war that risks turning into a broader conflict in Europe.


Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Monday said Russian forces were also moving towards Sloviansk, about 85 kilometers west of Sievierodonetsk.

The governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, told Ukrainian television: “The front line is under constant shelling.

“The enemy is also shelling near Lyman with the aim of destroying our defensive positions and entering Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. There is also shelling on Svyatohirsk with the same purpose,” he added.

Kyrylenko said efforts are underway to evacuate people from several towns, some of which are under attack day and night, including Sloviansk, where about 24,000 residents remain.

“People are now understanding, although it’s late, that it’s time to leave,” he said.

The British Ministry of Defense on Tuesday said on Twitter that Russia’s broader plan could continue to cut off the Sievierodonetsk region from both the north and south.

The Russian advances made since May on the southern Popasna axis have stalled last week, while reports of massive shelling near Izium suggest that Russia is preparing to make a new effort on the axis. north, the ministry said.

“Russia will almost certainly need to achieve a breakthrough on at least one of these axes in order to translate tactical gains into operational success and move towards its political goal of total control.” Donetsk Oblast,” it said.

Reuters could not immediately verify the Department’s report.

In a coordinated move with the United States, Britain said it would provide Ukraine with multiple-launch missile systems that can hit targets up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) away, providing long-range firepower. more precision needed to reach the Russian batteries. .

Zelenskyy said Kyiv is gradually getting “specific anti-ship systems” and this would be the best way to end Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to prevent grain exports.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow would respond to the West’s delivery of long-range weapons by pushing Ukrainian forces further away from Russia’s borders.

On Sunday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would strike new targets if the West provided longer-range missiles. On the same day, Russian missiles hit Kyiv for the first time in more than a month.

The United States, which reopened its embassy in Kyiv in May after closing it for nearly three months, said its embassy location in the Ukrainian capital remained unchanged.

Western countries have imposed unprecedented severe sanctions on Russia over its aggression.

On Monday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had imposed individual sanctions on 61 US officials, including the treasury and energy ministers as well as defense and top communications executives. head. The move is said to be in retaliation for the “continuous expansion of US sanctions.”

(Reporting by Reuters; writing by Michael Perry; editing by Himani Sarkar)



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