Street fighting, continuous shelling as Russia pushes for control of Ukraine’s Donbass

  • Fierce street fighting for the main eastern industrial city
  • Ukrainian troops are in large numbers, will not surrender-Zhelensky
  • East front under constant shell attack
  • Attempt to evict thousands

KYIV, June 7 (Reuters) – Ukrainian troops have been engaged in fierce street battles with Russian troops in the industrial city of Siverodonetsk, while other cities continue to be shelled out as the Kremlin pushes for control of the eastern Donbass region.

Sivrodonetsk has become the main target of the Russian offensive in the Donbass, which includes the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, where the invasion saw cities wasted by artillery fire on a battlefield.

“In the city, fierce street fighting continues,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky said in a video conference on Monday.

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“They are more than us, they are very powerful,” Zelenskiy told reporters at a conference. But he added that there was “every opportunity” for Ukrainian forces to fight back.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says Russia is also throwing troops and equipment in a bid to seize the largest Ukrainian-controlled city remaining in Luhansk.

Luhansk Governor Sergei Kaitoy said on Monday that the situation had worsened as Ukrainian security forces repulsed the Russians over the weekend.

The Ukrainian military said in a nightly update that Russian shelling had killed two civilians in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Monday and that Russian forces had opened fire on more than 20 communities.

In addition to the artillery fire, Ukrainian civil servants said on Tuesday that the enemy had fired from planes and helicopters in the Donetsk region.

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

Russia says it has been working to “liberate” Donbass, which has been partially occupied by Moscow’s separatist proxies since 2014 – after Ukrainian forces withdrew their troops from the capital, Kiev, and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, in the early stages of the war.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, but refrains from considering its action a “special military operation” as a threat to its security. Ukraine and its Western allies call it an unsubstantiated excuse for a war to seize territory at risk of becoming a wider European conflict.

Fixed shelling

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on Monday that Russian forces were advancing on Sloviansk, 85 km (53 miles) west of Siverodonetsk.

“The front line is constantly under shelling,” Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Girilenko told Ukrainian television.

“The enemy is shelling near Lyman with the aim of destroying our defensive positions and advancing on Sloviansk and Gramadorsk. There is also a shelling on Svyadohirsk with the same purpose,” he added.

Kyrilenko said efforts were being made to evacuate people from several cities, including Slovenia, which still has 24,000 residents, and that some have been attacked day and night.

Despite the delay, people now understand that it is time to leave, he said.

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Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Twitter on Tuesday that Russia’s broad plan to cut off the Siverodonetsk region from the north and south.

Russia’s progress on the southern Popasna axis has stalled since last week, while reports of heavy shelling near Izium indicate that Russia is preparing to launch a renewed effort on the northern axis, the ministry said.

“Russia must certainly reach a turning point in any of these axes in order to translate tactical gains into operational level success and move towards its political goal of controlling the whole of Donetsk Oblast,” it said.

The Reuters ministry could not immediately confirm the report.

In a joint operation with the United States, Britain said it would provide Ukraine with multi-missile rocket systems capable of striking targets at a range of 80 km (50 miles), providing the most accurate, long-range firepower needed to reach Russian artillery batteries. . read more

Zhelensky said Kiev was gradually gaining “specific anti-ship systems” and that this would be the best way to end the Russian blockade on Ukrainian Black Sea ports that prevented grain exports.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would respond to Western supplies of long-range weapons by pushing Ukrainian forces further back from Russian borders.

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

The United States, which reopened its embassy in Kiev in May after nearly three months of closure, has said its diplomatic posture in the Ukrainian capital remains unchanged.

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Western nations have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia’s invasion.

On Monday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had imposed personal sanctions on 61 U.S. officials, including secretaries of the Treasury and Energy and leading defense and media executives. It said the move was in retaliation for “continued expansion of US sanctions.” read more

(This story was rewritten to correct a typographical error in the title)

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Report by Reuters; Written by Michael Perry; Editing Himani Sarkar

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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