July 15, 2024


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The Ukrainian battle of Sievierodonetsk rages on the city streets

The Ukrainian battle of Sievierodonetsk rages on the city streets

  • Street fighting rages in the industrial city in the east of the country
  • “The situation is difficult in the East,” says Zelensky.
  • The president tries to mobilize forces in a rare visit to the frontline
  • Putin warns US against giving Ukraine long-range missiles

Kyiv (Reuters) – Ukrainian and Russian forces fought street fighting for control of the industrial city of Severodonetsk on Monday in the pivotal battle for the assault on the Kremlin in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Which side had the upper hand remained unclear. Its chief, Volodymyr Zelensky, said after a regional official said Russian forces had a numerical advantage and the situation was “difficult”, but Ukraine had “every opportunity” to respond.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Russia is throwing troops and equipment into its campaign to seize Severodonetsk, the largest remaining Ukrainian-controlled city in Luhansk Province.

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He became the main target of the Russian offensive in the Donbass – made up of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces – as the Kremlin conquest continued in a war of attrition that destroyed cities with artillery bombardment.

The Ukrainian defenders successfully fended off the Russians at the weekend as they looked on the verge of victory in Severodonetsk.

“The defenders managed to counterattack … but now the situation is a little worse for us again,” Serhi Gaidai, governor of Luhansk city, told state television.

The mayor of Severodonetsk, Oleksandr Stryuk, said street fighting was raging and neither side was preparing to withdraw.

“The situation is difficult in the east,” Zelensky told a news briefing in the capital, Kyiv. “We are in control of the situation, there are more (the Russians) and they are stronger, but we have every opportunity to fight.

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“If there is a (Russian) penetration into the Donbass, it will be very difficult,” he added.

Both sides say that each has inflicted heavy casualties.

Russia says it is on a mission to “liberate” Donbass – which has been partly controlled by Moscow’s separatist proxies since 2014 – after Ukrainian forces pushed their forces out of the capital, Kyiv, and Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, in the early stages of the war.

Zelensky sought to build up his forces on Sunday by visiting two cities close to the front lines.

“What you all deserve is to win, that’s the most important thing. But not at any cost,” Zelensky said, wearing his khaki shirt in a video clip. Read more

He said he’s traveled to Lysychansk, south of Sievierodonetsk, and Soledar — rare outings of him outside Kyiv since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

Russia describes its action in Ukraine as a “special military operation” aimed at eliminating what it sees as threats to its security. Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed this as nonsense and say Russia is an unjustified war to seize territory that could turn into a wider European conflict.

Putin’s warning

In a push for Kyiv, Britain said it would provide Ukraine with multiple launch missile systems that can strike targets 80 km away. The systems would give the Ukrainians the more accurate long-range firepower needed to reach Russian artillery batteries, a key component of Moscow’s battle plans.

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The British move was coordinated with the United States, which last week pledged to provide Kyiv with advanced missile systems. Read more

Zelensky said Kyiv was gradually receiving “specific anti-ship systems” from certain countries, and that this would be the best way to end the Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports on the Black Sea that prevents grain exports.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Moscow will respond to Western shipments of long-range weapons to Ukraine by pushing Ukrainian forces away from Russia’s borders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that Russia would hit new targets if the West supplied Ukraine with long-range missiles. On the same day, Russian missiles struck Kyiv for the first time in more than a month. Ukraine said the strike hit railroad car repairs, while Moscow said it destroyed tanks sent by Eastern European countries to Ukraine.

destroying tanks

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said Russian forces were also moving towards Slovinsk, about 85 km west of Severodonetsk.

Ukrainian soldiers 60 km south of the front line near Bakhmut said the situation was difficult but they had no choice but to push back the Russians.

A unit commander calling himself Maxim appealed to the allies of Ukraine for more weapons.

“With more anti-tank weapons, we will be able to destroy their tanks and cause maximum damage and the enemy will be forced to flee where they came from,” he told Reuters.

“…we will fight for every piece of this land.”

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Army said that Russian forces had reinforced their positions in the Kharkiv region and bombed Ukrainian positions to retain the lands they had occupied.

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It said Russia was targeting civilian infrastructure in several towns, and the regional administration said three civilians were killed and 10 wounded in the bombing.

It was not possible to verify the death toll. Moscow denies targeting civilians.

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Additional reporting by Natalia Zenets, Pavel Politiuk, Lydia Kelly and Ronald Bobsky; Writing by Angus McSwan and Mark Heinrich; Editing by Philippa Fletcher and John Stonestreet

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.