War in Ukraine, Day 111 | Ukrainian forces resist in Sievierodonetsk, Zelenskyj calls for weapons

(Kramatorsk) Russian forces tried to surround Ukrainian soldiers in Sievierodonetsk, a strategic city in eastern Ukraine, on Tuesday, but Kiev forces said they were “holding their ground” at 111.e war day.

Posted at 6:25am

Anna MALPAS
Media Agency France

On Monday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again called for “modern” weapons from Westerners, citing the “appalling” human cost of the Sievarodonetsk battle.

The capture of this 100,000-person city, which the two armies have been at odds over for weeks, would give Moscow control of the Lugansk region and pave the way to another major city, Kramatorsk, the capital of neighboring Donetsk region. A key step in conquering the entire Donbass Basin, a primarily Russian-speaking region partially held by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

“A massive shelling destroyed a third bridge” connecting Sieverodonetsk with the neighboring city of Lysytachansk, “but the city is not isolated, there are communication routes, albeit quite complicated,” said the head of the Sieverodonetsk administration Oleksandre Stryuk.

“Russian troops are not giving up their attempts to take the city, but the (Ukrainian) military is holding out,” he added.

“The Russians are trying to encircle the Ukrainians in Sievierodonetsk, in the neighboring town of Lysytchansk and in the towns around Pryvillia and Borivské,” said regional governor Serguii Gaidai, who assured that Moscow’s armed forces received reinforcements from “two groups of tactical battalions”.

“The situation is extremely serious,” added the governor, who announced on Monday that Ukrainian forces had left the center of Sieverodonetsk.

The large Azot chemical plant, where “540 to 560 people are refugees,” is constantly being bombed, according to Striouk. And when supply “is difficult, there are some reserves at the factory,” he said, lamenting that “the enemy is tearing our biggest company to pieces.”

A shell hit Maksym’s peaceful garden with its piglets and chickens, instantly killing his mother Natalia and her husband Mykola, both aged 65, an AFP team found in Lysytchansk.

“The bomb fell right here,” Maksym said, pointing to part of the garden. “I don’t know who did this, but if I did, I’d rip their arms off.”

Lysytchansk is now virtually deserted, with electrical wires cut, shops charred, black smoke billowing from houses. “The Russians are bombing downtown all the time,” said a local police officer. “That’s 24 hours a day, ‘non stop’,” adds his colleague.

The Russian army said it fired rockets at “about twenty areas” in the Donbass, as well as the city of Kharkiv further north. And carried out airstrikes on hundred areas of “concentration of manpower and military equipment of the Ukrainian Armed Forces”.

“Appalling” human cost

“The human cost of this battle (of Sievierodonetsk) for us is very high. It’s just frightening,” President Zelenskyy said on Monday evening. Kyiv reports that 100 to 300 of its men are killed every day.

“The Battle of Donbass will surely go down in military history as one of the most violent battles in Europe,” he said. And in the face of Russia’s steamroller, “only modern artillery secures our advantage,” pounded the president, saying he was confident his army could “liberate the territory.” “We just need enough weapons to deal with all of this. Our partners have them.”

The head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andriï Yermak, also called on Telegram on Tuesday for “more heavy weapons and rapid training for our soldiers. Anything else is seen as a weakness.

On Tuesday morning, the presidency reported five civilians killed and 11 wounded in the past 24 hours in Kharkiv (east), Luhansk and Donetsk regions, as well as “night bombings in various regions” (Sumy, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv).

“The enemy is not stopping its attacks in the east,” summarizes the Ukrainian army in its morning report.

Washington began supplying Kyiv with heavy equipment, first howitzers, then advanced equipment such as Himar rocket launchers, high-precision artillery pieces with a range longer than that of the Russian army.

A meeting of the contact group for Ukraine headed by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is to be held in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss speeding up deliveries.

Macron in Ukraine?

On a diplomatic level, French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Romania on Tuesday to greet the 500 French soldiers stationed at a NATO base there since the invasion of Ukraine. Anyone who takes over the presidency of the European Union by June 30th must then go to Moldova before a possible trip to Kyiv.

His much-anticipated visit to Ukraine – which would be a first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24 – could be accompanied by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, according to German media. The French Presidency has not confirmed this information, stressing that “nothing has been decided” at this point.

Such a visit would come as the EU must decide at a summit on June 23-24 whether to grant Ukraine official status as a candidate for membership of the European bloc. The European Commission has yet to deliver its opinion before the end of the week.

“I think we have to send this signal to Ukraine that we are open to this candidacy,” French Europe Minister Clément Beaune told France Inter radio. “We have to send out a positive signal as soon as possible.”

But he reiterated that candidate status is just the beginning of a membership process that “takes time” – years or even decades.

fight in the south

In addition to the Donbass, there is also fighting in southern Ukraine. During the night from Monday to Tuesday, the southern command of the Ukrainian troops reported air battles and Russian helicopter attacks on Ukrainian positions in Mikolajiv and Kherson.

In Mikolayiv, a key port on the Dnieper estuary, the Russian advance was halted on the outskirts of the city and the Ukrainian army was digging trenches there, an AFP team found.

Ukrainians fear that the Russians will soon organize a referendum in the Kherson region – near the Crimean peninsula – and other areas occupied by Russian forces on Russian annexation.

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