Fighting enters ‘dreadful climax’ in key regions, says Ukraine | Ukraine



The battle for two key cities in eastern Ukraine is heading for “a fearsome climax”, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said as the war in Ukraine entered its fourth month on Friday.

Russian efforts to capture Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk – the two remaining Ukrainian-controlled towns in Luhansk – turned into a bloody war of attrition, with both sides inflicting heavy casualties. Moscow, over the past two weeks, has managed to make steady gains.

“The fighting is entering a kind of fearsome climax,” Oleksiy Arestovych said in an interview Wednesday night.

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Lugansk region, one of two in eastern Donbass, said Thursday morning that Russian forces had made a success of their advances. He added that enemy forces had captured Loskutivka, a settlement south of Lysychansk, which threatened to isolate Ukrainian troops.

“In order to avoid encirclement, our command may order the troops to withdraw to new positions,” Haidai said in a message on Telegram. Russian state news agency Tass quoted Russian-backed separatists as saying Lysychansk was surrounded and cut off from supplies after Russia captured a road linking the town to Ukrainian-held territories.

Meanwhile, Russia is now believed to control all of Sievierodonetsk except for the Azot chemical plant, where hundreds of civilians and Ukrainian forces are trapped. Footage posted to social media on Thursday showed heavy fighting outside the industrial zone where the factory is located.

The incessant Russian bombing of the Azot factory echoes the bloody siege of the Azovstal steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, where hundreds of fighters and civilians had taken refuge.

Commenting on Russia’s advances in the east, Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address that Russia’s goal was to “destroy all of Donbass step by step”.

Elsewhere in the country, local officials said Russia continued to pound their towns with rockets.

In the southern city of Mykolaiv, the mayor said Russian missiles fired a day earlier killed at least one person and damaged buildings, including a school.

The bulk of the Russian shelling outside Donbass fell on Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, located just across the border from Russia. The war-torn city has seen some of the heaviest shelling since the war began after experiencing a relative lull that prompted some people to return home.

Ukraine’s military now fears Moscow may launch another attack on Kharkiv, despite a successful counter-offensive that pushed Russian troops from its outskirts earlier this month.

Andrii Mogyla, a member of Ukraine’s armed forces, told CNN on Wednesday that Russia could launch a new assault on the city as early as this week.

As concerns grow in Ukraine over Russia’s advances in the east and north, the country is set to receive a morale boost on Thursday as EU leaders are expected to officially accept Ukraine as a candidate to join the bloc. in a symbolic show of Western support. .

The Ukrainian military will also welcome the announcement made by Oleksii Reznikov, the Minister of Defense, who announced on Thursday that the much-requested Himars long-range rocket systems had started arriving from the United States.

“The Himars have arrived in Ukraine. Thanks to my colleague and friend, @SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III, for these powerful tools! The summer will be hot for the Russian occupiers. And the last for some of them,” the minister said on Twitter.

After weeks of complaints from Kyiv that the West was dragging its feet with the shipment of heavy weapons, there are now growing signs that weapons arriving from abroad are beginning to influence the fighting. Earlier this week, Ukraine destroyed a Russian tugboat near Snake Island using a Harpoon missile and also carried out its first attack on a Russian oil rig in the Black Sea.

Much of Ukraine’s criticism was directed at Germany, which Ukrainian officials have previously accused of halfheartedly supporting the country. That rhetoric changed, however, after Ukraine announced the first delivery of heavy weapons from Germany earlier this week, with the arrival of Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers.

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And on Thursday, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Berlin Andrij Melnyk told Ukrinform news agency that Kyiv had concluded a contract with a German arms manufacturer for the purchase of the IRIS-T advanced air defense system. SLM.

Ukraine has repeatedly indicated that its goal of launching a new counter-offensive to reclaim lost territories in the south, including the Kherson region – where it has recently made gains – depends on the will of the West. to provide heavy weapons.

“We must liberate our land and achieve victory, but faster, much faster,” Zelenskiy said in a video address released early Thursday. “What is needed quickly is parity on the battlefield to stop this diabolical armada and push it beyond Ukraine’s borders.”

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