Ukraine Losing Grip on Luhansk

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(Newser)

Russian forces trying to encircle Sievierodonetsk could be just days from cutting the city off, Ukrainian officials said Sunday. The government has reinforced troops trying to hold onto the last major urban center in the Luhansk region it still controls, the New York Times reports. Capturing the industrial city is a major goal of Russia’s military. “The situation in Sievierodonetsk is extremely difficult,” Serhiy Haidai, the regional governor, said on Telegram, adding, “The next two or three days will be significant.” A senior US defense agreed that Russia is likely to have all of Luhansk soon, per the Washington Post.


Developments include:


The fight in Severodonetsk: A chemical plant where hundreds of troops and civilians are sheltering is being bombarded by Russian forces, per the Post. Haidai said the shelling caused a huge fire, per the BBC. They knocked out a second bridge to the city and are shelling another one to cut off the inflow of supplies and people, the governor said. The mayor said Ukrainian troops control just one-third of Sievierodonetsk.
The twin city: Like Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk’s ability to hang on depends on getting supplies, including ammunition and equipment to replace what’s destroyed in the fighting, into the city. Thousands of troops already are there, per the Times. “If the help will come, it won’t be occupied,” said a military police officer in Lysychansk. “If there is no help with military equipment, of course they will drive us out.”
Missile strike in the west: Four Russian missiles fired from the Black Sea struck Chortkiv, injuring 22 people, local officials said. One hit a pipeline, prompting the shutoff of the city’s gas supply. The Russian Defense Ministry said its strike destroyed a warehouse in which Ukraine was keeping antitank and antimissile systems from the US and UK. Ukrainian officials did not comment on the Russian claim.
President’s assessment: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed pride in his nightly video talk over the way his country’s forces have fought in the east. “Remember how in Russia, in the beginning of May, they hoped to seize all of the Donbas?” Zelensky said late Saturday, per the AP. “It’s already the 108th day of the war, already June. Donbas is holding on.” He said Russia has had three times the number of military casualties that Ukraine has, saying: “For what? What did it get you, Russia?” (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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