Russia squeezes Ukrainian stronghold in east

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Russian troops on Friday attacked the last Ukrainian stronghold in a separatist-held province in eastern Ukraine, including a city where authorities say 1,500 people have been killed since the war began, 60 percent of them Residential buildings were destroyed.

Ukraine’s foreign minister has warned that without the injection of new foreign weapons, the Ukrainian army will not be able to prevent Russia’s occupation of Sivye Donetsk and nearby Lysichansk, which are critical to Russia’s goal of occupying all of Ukraine’s industrial Donbass region. important.

The cities are the last Ukrainian-controlled region of Luhansk, one of two provinces in the region. Russian troops made slow but sustained progress in bombing and attempting to surround Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk.

“The Russians are mercilessly storming residential areas,” regional governor Serhiy Haidai wrote in a Telegram post on Friday. “The residents of Sievierodonetsk have forgotten when the city was last silent for at least half an hour.”

Four people have been killed in Russian shelling in the city in the past 24 hours, he said.

At least 1,500 people have been killed in Sievierodonetsk since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said late Thursday. About 12,000 to 13,000 people remain in the city – down from the pre-war population of about 100,000 – and 60 percent of residential buildings have been destroyed, he said.

A Russian reconnaissance and sabotage group entered a city hotel, and the main road between the neighboring city of Lysichansk and the southwestern city of Bakhmut remained clear, but travel was dangerous, Struck said. Only 12 people were able to be evacuated on Thursday, he said.

In Donetsk, another province in the Donbas region, Russian-backed insurgents claimed on Friday to have taken control of Lehman, a major railway hub in two other major cities still under Ukrainian control. north. Ukrainian officials had no immediate confirmation.

With Ukraine’s hopes of stopping Russia’s advance fading, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba pleaded with Western countries to provide his country with more weapons so that its defenders would be able to “repel (Russian forces)”.

“We need heavy weapons. The only thing Russia is better than us is the number of heavy weapons they have. Without artillery, without multiple launch rocket systems, we will not be able to push them back,” Kuleba tweeted Thursday night. said in a video posted on .

He said the situation in the east was “worse than people say. … If you really care about Ukraine, weapons, weapons and weapons.”

In a nightly address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had some harsh words for the European Union, which has yet to agree on a sixth round of sanctions, including an oil embargo on Russia.

“Of course I am thankful that our friends are pushing for new sanctions,” the Ukrainian leader said. “But where did those who blocked the sixth pack get so much power? Why are they still allowed to have so much power? , included in intra-European procedures?

Zelensky was also outspoken about the stakes in the battle for eastern Ukraine.

“Pressure on Russia is actually a life-saving issue,” he said. “Every day of delay, weakness, disputes of all kinds or proposals to ‘pacify’ the aggressor at the expense of the victim are new Ukrainians killed. And a new threat to everyone on our continent.”

Moscow on Thursday urged the West to lift sanctions already imposed on the war, in an attempt to blame the growing global food crisis on Kyiv’s inability to deliver millions of tons of food and other agricultural products when it came under attack.

Britain immediately accused Russia of “trying to hold the world for ransom”, insisting that sanctions would not be lifted, and a top US diplomat slammed the invasion as “brutal, sadistic and lawless”.


Bekatoros reported from Kramatorsk, Ukraine. Associated Press writers Andres Rosa in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed.

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