Kyiv, Ukraine – Russian forces on Monday advanced into central Severodonetsk, one of Ukraine’s last strongholds in the eastern Donbass region, where Moscow is now focusing its offensive.
The Battle of Severodonetsk It is in many ways similar to the fight for Mariupol, where Russian-backed forces worked to encircle the city while constant bombardment reduced most of the buildings to rubble.
The fighting highlights the central role of artillery in eastern Ukraine as Russia tries to avoid losing more manpower in urban combat. The fall of the city will probably liberate Russian soldiers for their next attack on the Ukrainian cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, which would be the last strongholds of Ukrainian forces in the east.
Serhiy Haiday, governor of the Luhansk region, which together with neighboring Donetsk makes up the Donbass region, said on Monday morning that all vital infrastructure in Severodonetsk had been destroyed, as well as 60% of residential housing. Speaking to Ukrainian television, he described the pattern of the battle: several hours of Russian bombardment, followed by a push by the troops to advance further into the city.
“The smell of corpses is constant, because they don’t take in corpses,” said Mr. Heidi. They shoot everything in the arsenal of the Russian Federation. Ukrainian forces They were trying to hold out until more heavy weapons were delivered, he said.
On Monday afternoon, Mr. Heidi said officials had halted evacuations after an armored evacuation vehicle came under fire. French journalist murdered.
Mr Heidi said the vehicle was on its way to transport 10 people when shrapnel pierced the vehicle’s armor and injured the journalist, who was speaking about the evacuation efforts, on his Telegram channel.
French authorities identified the murdered journalist, Frédéric Leclerc-Imhof, who worked for the French broadcaster BFM.
“France demands that a transparent investigation be opened as soon as possible to shed full light on the circumstances of this tragedy,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told French TV channel TF1 that what he called the liberation of the Donbass regions, which Moscow considers independent states, is an “unconditional priority”.
Russian forces are so focused on Severodonetsk that they likely won’t be able to conduct major operations elsewhere in the country, according to the Institute for the Study of War. However, Russia has continued air strikes elsewhere in Ukraine, an indication that Moscow’s ambitions extend well beyond the Donbass.
Sumy and Kharkiv regions in northern Ukraine and Kryvyi Rih in the south were hit by air strikes, according to Ukrainian officials Monday morning. In addition, officials said, reinforcements have been sent to Russian positions around Ukraine.
Russia said it also bombed targets in the south of the country, including Ukraine’s Southern Military Command.
Russian media reported that Kirill Strimosov, the Russian-appointed deputy head of the Kherson Region Civil Military Administration, said farmers in the region had started exporting wheat to Russia. Ukraine has previously accused Russia of stealing its grain supplies, as well as preventing them Grain exportsThis has led to food shortages in some parts of the world.
Ukrainian forces in the south, near Kherson, conducted a successful counterattack over the weekend, according to the Institute for the Study of War. Although they are unlikely to regain more territory, they may force Russia to deploy more resources in the region.
The governor of Russia’s Kursk region said Monday that the Defense Ministry will send more troops to the region to protect against alleged Ukrainian cross-border attacks. Russia has blamed Kyiv for a number of strikes on fuel depots and critical infrastructure Inside Russian territory.
President Biden, upon arriving at the White House Monday morning from Delaware, was asked whether this would be done The United States was planning to send Long-range missile systems of Ukraine.
“We will not send to Ukraine missile systems that would hit Russia,” Biden said, without going into details.
The Biden administration is expected to announce as early as this week that it will send to Ukraine long-range missile systems that Kyiv says are necessary for the fight, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Russian offensive in the Donbass region.
Among the weapons the United States is expected to provide are Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, or MLRS, which are mobile artillery launchers that can fire tens of miles further than any currently under Ukraine’s control.
Following the president’s remarks Monday, a US administration official said sending the MLRS to Ukraine was under consideration for battlefield use, but that “there is nothing on the table with long-range offensive capabilities” that could hit targets in Russia.
Biden later cited Ukraine in a Memorial Day speech to the families of dead US service members at Arlington National Cemetery.
Mr. Biden said the war the Ukrainians are fighting is “part of a larger battle that unites all people”. “It is the battle of so many patriots whose eternal rest here on this sacred lands have been a part of — a battle between democracy and tyranny, between freedom and oppression.”
Meanwhile, the leaders of the 27 European Union countries The meeting began in Brussels Monday afternoon to discuss issues related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
European Union leaders have been trying for weeks to agree on a sixth package of sanctions against Russia, this package focusing on oil exports. Some European Union countries that It is highly dependent on Russian oiland particularly Hungary, was reluctant to cut off the flow, arguing that the economic impact would be too great.
European Union officials representing member states agreed on Monday to an initial text for leaders to review, but it was not clear whether Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban would accept the draft, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The draft text, likely to be adopted at the summit, says leaders agree to a sixth package of sanctions, covering crude oil and petroleum products from Russia “with the temporary exception of pipeline-delivered crude,” according to a draft reviewed by the magazine. .
Landlocked Hungary receives all of its Russian oil via a pipeline. Piped oil accounts for about a third of the EU’s imports of Russian oil, with the rest coming by ship.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the crowd via video link and is likely to urge greater support for his country and intensified efforts to punish Russia and its president,
In a video address released late Sunday night, Mr. Zelensky reiterated the country’s need for more Weapons to repel the Russians. He also compared the brutal fighting in the east to the relative peace of the capital, as the people of Kyiv celebrated the 1540th anniversary of the city’s founding.
On Sunday afternoon, Kyiv residents filled the capital’s streets, sat on the riverbank and watched the open-air performances of traditional Ukrainian songs and dance.
“For this happiness to live and live your normal life and walk quietly through the streets of your city where this war is now taking place. This is what we are fighting for,” said Mr. Zelensky. “Freedom and peace are what can really be felt in Kyiv today. Even though the sirens sounded today as well.”
Alex Leary, Danielle Michaels, Ilya Olinick, and Lawrence Norman contributed to this article.
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