Kyiv: The Russian military has increased its hold on territory in eastern Ukraine as it tries to cut supply lines and encircle Ukrainian forces, while the Ukrainian military on Thursday announced the arrival of the powerful US multi-launch rocket system, allowing it to Hope to get the benefit of the battlefield.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said Ukrainian forces withdrew from some areas near the city of Lisichansk, as the Russians sent in reinforcements and concentrated their shelling in the area.
The city is located in Luhansk Province, a major battlefield in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine.
The General Staff of Ukraine stated that Russian forces had captured the villages of Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka, and were trying to capture Sirotyn, a settlement outside Svyarodonetsk, the province’s urban administrative center.
Luhansk government Serhi Haidai told The Associated Press that the Russians were “burning everything” in their attack to encircle Ukrainian fighters.
“The Russians are moving without trying to spare ammunition or troops, and they don’t have either,” Haidai said. “They have heavy artillery and an edge over the numbers of troops.”
After repeated requests from his Western allies for heavy weapons to counter Russia’s firepower, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksey Reznikov said the response had arrived in the form of medium-range American rocket launchers.
“The summer will be hot for the Russian occupiers. And the last for some of them,” Reznikov tweeted, thanking America for “these powerful tools.”
A US defense official confirmed on Wednesday that all four of the promised High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) were in the hands of Ukrainian forces, but it was unclear whether they had yet been used.
The US approved providing the precision-guided systems in late May, and once they were in the area, the country’s forces needed about three weeks of training to operate them. Rockets can cover a distance of about 70 kilometres.
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to provide details before the announcement, plan to send $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including some additional medium-range rocket systems, ammunition and other supplies.
Analysts say the advanced systems will give Ukraine’s military greater accuracy in targeting Russian targets.
Mykola Sunhurovsky of the Razumkov Center, a Kyiv-based think tank, said HIMARS has a longer range, more precision and a higher rate of fire than similar Soviet-designed systems that Russia and Ukraine used during the four-month war. did.
In the Luhansk region, Ukrainians remain in control of part of the territory, “defying the Russians and arousing their fury and desire to burn it to the ground”, Haidai said.
For weeks, Russian forces have attacked Svyarodonetsk with artillery and airstrikes, and Ukrainian forces have fought house-to-house battles.
Ukrainian forces are holed up with about 500 civilians at the Azot chemical plant, the only part of the city still under Ukrainian control.
Haidai said Ukrainian troops prevented the seizure of the city from the plant’s massive underground structures, but added that “the shelling has intensified, and even concrete shelters cannot withstand the bombing”. .
The Russians were using their entire arsenal – heavy artillery, tanks and aircraft – he said.
Lisichansk, located on a steep river bank opposite Svyarodonetsk, also faces a relentless Russian artillery barrage.
The governor said at least one civilian was killed and three others were injured in 24 hours, as the Russians concentrated more than 100 multiple rocket launchers to “pump up the whole block”.
The British Defense Ministry said Russian forces were likely to advance more than 5 kilometers towards the southern approach of Lisichansk from Sunday.
“Some Ukrainian units may have withdrawn to avoid encirclement,” the statement said. “Russia’s improved performance in this area is likely a result of the recent unit reinforcements and heavy concentration of fire.”
Ukraine’s military said the Russians were also moving to overtake the hills towards the highway connecting Lisichansk with Bakhmut, to the southwest, in an attempt to cut off Ukrainian forces’ supply lines.
Haidai said that the Bakhmut-Licichansk highway was not used due to heavy Russian shelling. Ukrainian forces are getting supplies through an alternate route.
In the initial phase of the offensive on February 24, following a failed attempt to capture Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Russian forces focused on the Donbass region, where Ukrainian forces have fought Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.
The Russian military controls about 95 percent of Luhansk Province and about half of neighboring Donetsk Province, the two regions that make up the Donbass.
An online fundraising pitch aimed at helping Ukraine buy three offensive drones has raised USD 10.4 million in 24 hours, a Ukrainian politician and TV personality says.
Serhi Pretula credits “amazing” support among Ukrainians when his charitable foundation launched a US$15 million appeal a day earlier, such as for the purchase of Byraktar drones the Ukrainian military was already defending against Russian invaders. has used for
He tweeted: “4.6 million USD to go. The People’s Bayraktar project already has a nationwide crowdfunding. Let’s change it to international! ,
The meeting of EU leaders in Brussels appeared to be on track to make Ukraine a candidate for membership in the 27-nation bloc. The country’s actual entry into the EU is likely to take years, however, due to war and reforms the Ukrainian government is expected to conform to European standards.
It is unlikely that accession talks can begin before next year, and joining the EU will provide no security guarantees like membership in NATO.
Ukraine has also sought to join a Western military alliance, which Putin cited as an argument for attacking the neighboring country.
Several EU diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the EU leaders’ summit beginning Thursday, said the consensus needed for Ukraine to become a candidate and begin talks on future membership. approval will be received.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Thursday that her country offered her expertise to help protect Ukraine’s ports and the safe passage of ships for Ukrainian grain exports.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil. Russia’s invasion and the blockade of Ukraine’s ports have largely halted that flow, and millions of tons of grain are trapped in silos, threatening food supplies in many developing countries, especially Africa.
“It is imperative that action is taken within the next month before the new harvest, and we are determined to work with our partners to deliver it,” Truss said in a news conference with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu. Said during a visit to Ankara. Discussed measures to end the blockade.
Turkey wants to assemble the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine to organize a United Nations plan that would allow the safe shipment of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports.
Cavusoglu said a possible deal could establish a “safe zone” outside Ukraine’s territorial waters.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that Russia destroyed more than 2,000 schools and other educational institutions during the war.
In a video address to students and teachers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Zelensky said that in areas where Russian troops made quick progress, “forces were shooting people in the streets, they were torturing people, they were minors.” – raping boys and girls”.
Zelensky also expressed disappointment that Israel had not joined Western-led sanctions against Russia or provided military aid to Ukraine to boost its forces in the war.
Israel relies on good relations with Russia to coordinate security in Syria, where Russia has troops and where Israel continues to launch attacks against enemy positions. It has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine.