Amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, a key Ukrainian city Severodonetsk was under ‘massive’ Russian bombardment recently. As per reports, despite fierce resistance from the outgunned Ukrainian military, the Moscow troops have been pummelling eastern Ukraine for weeks and are slowly advancing. With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces tightening their grip on the strategically important city of Severodonetsk in the Donbas, its twin city of Lysychansk is now coming under heavier bombardment.
As per news agency AFP, Moscow is seeking to seize a vast eastern swathe of the country after being pushed back from Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine following their February invasion.
Meanwhile, amid the crisis, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday that Ukraine and Russia are a long way from ending the war through negotiations. He further added that Putin wrongly believed he could dictate the terms of peace.
Russians focus firepower to seize 2 villages in east Ukraine
The Russian military expanded its grab of territory in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, capturing two villages and vying for control of a key highway in an offensive that could cut supply lines and encircle some frontline Ukrainian forces, British and Ukrainian military chiefs said.
Britain’s defense ministry said that Ukrainian forces had withdrawn from some areas near the city of Lysychansk, the latest major battlefield in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine, to avoid the possibility of being encircled as Russians sent in reinforcements and concentrated their firepower in the area.
Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian forces took control of the villages of Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka, and were trying to capture Syrotyne outside Sievierodonetsk.
For weeks, Russian forces have pummeled Sievierodonetsk, the administrative center of the Luhansk region, with artillery and air raids, and fought the Ukrainian army house-to-house. Ukrainian forces remain holed up at the Azot chemical plant on the city’s edge, where about 500 civilians were also sheltering.
The Russians were also pressing their offensive on Lysychansk, which is located on a steep river bank facing Sievierodonetsk.
The U.K. Ministry of Defense noted in its intelligence assessment Thursday that Russian forces have likely advanced more than five kilometers (three miles) towards the southern approaches of Lysychansk since Sunday.
“Some Ukrainian units have withdrawn, probably to avoid being encircled,” the statement said.
“Russia’s improved performance in this sector is likely a result of recent unit reinforcement and heavy concentration of fire.” Ukraine’s military said the Russians were also moving to overtake the hills overlooking a highway linking Lysychansk with Bakhmut, to the southwest, in an attempt to cut the supply lines of Ukrainian forces.
Following a botched attempt to capture the Ukrainian capital in the early stage of the invasion on Feb. 24, Russian forces have shifted focus to Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of Donbas, where the Ukrainian forces have fought Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.
The Russian military currently controls about 95% of the Luhansk region, and about half of the neighbouring Donetsk region of Donbas.
A Ukrainian politician and TV personality says an online fundraising pitch aimed to help Ukraine buy three offensive drones has already drummed up $10.4 million dollars — in just 24 hours.
Serhiy Prytula credited “amazing” support among Ukrainians after his charitable foundation launched the appeal for $15 million a day earlier for the purchase of the Bayraktar drones like those that Ukrainian forces have already used to defend against Russian invaders.
He tweeted: “4,6m $ to go. The People’s Bayraktar project is already a nationwide crowdfunding. Let’s turn it into international!” – AP
EU debates Ukraine candidacy as Russia makes life ‘hell’ in east
EU leaders will gather in Brussels on Thursday to discuss calls to formally grant war-torn Ukraine “candidate status” to join the bloc, as Russian forces slowly advance in the eastern Donbas region despite fierce resistance from Kyiv’s military.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had been conducting a “telephone marathon” on his country’s behalf in the run-up to the meeting, making his case to 11 European leaders on Wednesday alone.
“We are preparing for the historic decision of the European Council. There are only a few hours remaining before it,” he said in his daily address.- AFP
At least two sunoil tanks hit in Russian rocket attack on Mykolaiv
At least two sunflower oil tanks at a terminal in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Mykolaiv were seriously damaged in a Russian rocket attack, according to photos released on Thursday by the local emergency service.
The city is one of Ukraine’s major Black Sea ports that have been shut since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24.
The photos show a smoking tank, the upper part of which was blown off by the explosion. The adjacent reservoir, black from fire, was also seriously damaged.
The local emergency service did not provide a name of the terminal.- Reuters
China says Ukraine crisis has sounded alarm for humanity
The conflict in Ukraine has “sounded an alarm for humanity,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping said on Wednesday, as China continues to assume a position of neutrality while backing its ally Russia.
China has refused to criticize Russia’s war in Ukraine or even to refer to it as an invasion in deference to Moscow, while also condemning U.S.-led sanctions against Russia and accusing the West of provoking Moscow.
“The Ukraine crisis has again sounded the alarm for humanity. Countries will surely end up in security hardships if they place blind faith in their positions of strength, expand military alliances, and seek their own safety at the expense of others,” the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Mr. Xi as saying.- AP
Ukraine, Russia still ‘far from’ peace negotiations, says German Chancellor Scholz
Ukraine and Russia are a long way from ending the war through negotiations, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday, adding that President Vladimir Putin still wrongly believed he could dictate the terms of peace.
The German Chancellor also said that Ukraine needed massive financial help to rebuild after the devastation wrought by Russia’s invasion while adding that the reconstruction would be a “task for generations”.- AFP
Pro-Russian forces ‘close to encircling’ key Ukrainian city
Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine claimed on Wednesday that they were close to surrounding Ukrainian forces defending the twin cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, the site of fierce weeks-long fighting.
An officer in the separatist army of Luhansk — a pro-Russian breakaway region in eastern Ukraine — said their forces surrounded Ukrainian troops in the villages of Hirsk and Zolote, a day after capturing the neighbouring village of Toshkivka.
The three settlements are located a few kilometres outside Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which Moscow’s forces have been trying to seize for weeks.- AFP
Ordinary Ukrainians resisting Russia’s invasion are my role models: Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday his role models were ordinary Ukrainians who resisted invading Russian forces and he compared Russia to the fictional arch-villain Lord Voldemort in the ‘Harry Potter’ books.
Mr. Zelensky, dressed in a military uniform, was answering questions via videolink from students at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.
Asked by one student who his role models were, Mr. Zelensky said: “The people of Ukraine… and there are very many of them.”- Reuters