The battle for the Sievierodonetsk ebbs of Ukraine and flows through the streets of the city According to Reuters
© Reuters. A view shows a facility of the Darnytsia Auto Repair Plant damaged by missile attacks, as Russia continues to attack Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 5, 2022. REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko
By Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk
KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian and Russian militaries fought street by street for control of the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk on Monday in the pivotal battle of the Kremlin’s offensive in eastern Ukraine.
It was not clear which side had the upper hand as the hours passed. President Voldymyr Zelenskiy said Russian forces had a numerical advantage but Ukraine had “every chance” to fight back, after a regional official suggested that Kyiv had lost its footing.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said that Russia is sending troops and equipment to capture Sievierodonetsk, the largest remaining city of Ukraine in the Luhansk province of the Donbas region.
The Ukrainian defenders over the weekend repelled the Russians just as they were on the verge of victory. But Ukraine’s position turned more dangerous on Monday morning, Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai told state television.
“Our defenders tried to make a counterattack in a certain time, they liberated almost half the city. But now the situation has become a little bit worse for us. “, Gaidai said.
City mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said street fighting was raging and neither side was prepared to withdraw.
“We have gathered enough forces and resources to fight back the attacks on the city,” Stryuk told Ukrainian television.
Both sides said they inflicted heavy casualties on each other.
The city became a prime target of a Russian offensive in Ukraine’s Donbas region – which includes the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces – as the Kremlin’s invasion unfolded in a war of attrition that turned the entire city into a devastated by the shelling of Russian artillery.
Russia said it was on a mission to “liberate” Donbas after Ukraine pushed back troops from the capital Kyiv and Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, in the early stages of the war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sought to rally his troops on Sunday with a visit to two cities near the front lines.
“What you all deserve is winning – that’s the most important thing. But not at all costs,” Zelenskiy, wearing his trademark khaki t-shirt, said in a video.
Zelenskiy said he has traveled to Lysychansk, south of Sievierodonetsk, and Soledar – rare outings for him outside Kyiv since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.
To promote Kyiv, Britain has said it will supply Ukraine with multiple-launch missile systems that can hit targets up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. These systems will provide Ukraine with the longer-range, more precise firepower needed to reach Russian artillery units, a key component of Moscow’s battle plan.
Britain’s move is coordinated with the United States, which last week pledged to supply Kyiv with advanced missile systems.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would respond to the West’s delivery of long-range weapons to Ukraine by pushing Ukrainian forces further away from Russia’s borders.
On Sunday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would strike new targets if the West provided Ukraine with longer-range missiles. On the same day, Russian missiles hit Kyiv for the first time in more than a month. Ukraine said the attack targeted a railway carriage repair facility, while Moscow said it destroyed tanks sent to Ukraine by Eastern European countries.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Russian forces were also moving towards Sloviansk, located about 85 kilometers (53 miles) west of Sievierodonetsk.
In Lysychansk, divided from Sievierodonetsk by a river, Russian forces fired on a bakery and several administrative and residential buildings, Governor Gaidai said on Monday. One resident was injured, he said.
About 60 kilometers (40 miles) south, on the front line near Bakhmut, Ukrainian soldiers said the situation was difficult but they had no choice but to push back the Russians.
A unit commander named Maxym urged Ukraine’s allies to buy more weapons.
He told Reuters: “We need more anti-tank weapons. With more anti-tank weapons, we can destroy their tanks, deal maximum damage and the enemy will be forced to flee. where they come from”.
“This is our home, our land. We will fight for every piece of this land.”
Russian forces are reinforcing their positions in the Kharkiv region and shelling Ukrainian positions to keep the territory they have occupied, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Army said.
It said Russia was targeting civilian infrastructure in several towns and regional authorities said 3 civilians were killed and 10 wounded in the shelling.
The amount could not be verified. Moscow denies targeting civilians.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces destroyed parts of an armored vehicle repair facility in the Kharkiv region and killed more than 450 people it called “nationalists” in Horlivka. and Kodema, north of Donetsk. There is no information on deaths reported from the Ukrainian side.
Inside Russia, the governor of the Kursk region, Roman Starovoit, said the village of Tyotkino near the border with Ukraine had been hit by Ukrainian fire on a bridge and several businesses on Monday morning. There were no reports of casualties.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” aimed at quelling what it sees as a threat to its own security. Ukraine and its Western allies dismiss this as nonsense and say it is an unprovoked war of aggression that risks turning into a broader conflict in Europe.