Russian forces launched new attacks on towns in the east Ukrainewith the increased risk of completely encircling the city of Severodonetsk.
The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Kirillo Budanov, said the delay in getting Western weapons to the front line had left Kyiv “suffering from a catastrophic shortage of heavy weapons.”
The governor of Luhansk region, Serhiy Heyday, said the region is now without gas supply and has limited water and electricity after the last gas supply station was bombed.
Hayday added that Russian forces were trying to “completely destroy the city of Severodonetsk” in an attempt to occupy the Donbass region, near the Russian border.
“They are simply wiping Sievierodonetsk off the face of the earth,” Hedayi said on his Telegram channel.
“At the moment, with the support of artillery, the Russian occupiers are attacking Sievierodonetsk,” added Hayday.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the situation in Donbass was “extremely difficult”, as the Russian army used all its strength. Footage from the last days of the confrontation areas, posted on social media, depicted a constant barrage of artillery and rocket fire falling on main roads and Ukrainian positions.
Video footage recently released by AFP photographer Aris Messines in Donbass showed shells falling near a road in the east of the country and the constant sound of incoming artillery fire.
After failing to capture Kyiv or Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, Russia is trying to capture the rest of the breakaway Donbass provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and hold Ukrainian forces in an enclave on the main eastern front.
In the eastern part of the Ukrainian-controlled Donbass enclave, the city of Severodonetsk on the east bank of the Seversky Donets River and its twin, Lysekhansk, on the west bank, became a pivotal battlefield as Russian forces advanced from three directions to encircle it. With them.
An assessment of Russian operations by Western analysts suggests that instead of encircling Ukrainian forces in one large and comprehensive effort, Russia is trying to divide Ukrainian-controlled territory into several small sieges with the same effect.
Russian forces are “instead trying to secure a smaller encirclement and focus on Severodonetsk,” the US-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War said in its May 24 update, adding that Ukrainian forces may also conduct a controlled withdrawal southwest of the town of Popasna to protect Ukrainian supply lines from Russian attacks.
Russia appears to have deployed high-quality forces from the so-called Operational Maneuvering Group to lead the operation around Severdonesetsk, with some reports indicating that Russian aircraft were flying several hundred sorties per day in support of the offensive.
Russian forces also appear to be benefiting from better supply lines in the Luhansk region, where Ukrainian officials have called for more Western heavy weapons – including multiple launch missile systems – for their superior defenders.
In the city of Sloviansk west of Donbass, many residents took advantage of what Ukraine described as a break in the Russian offensive to leave. “My house has been bombed, and I have nothing,” said Vera Safronova, sitting in a train carriage among the evacuees.
Besides the eastern Donbass region, Moscow is also targeting southern Ukraine and has blockaded ships that normally export Ukrainian grain and sunflower oil through the Black Sea, driving up prices globally and threatening lives.
Russia, which has blamed Ukraine and the West for the food crisis, said it was ready to provide humanitarian passage for ships carrying food to leave Ukraine but said Western sanctions should be lifted in return.
Three months after the invasion, Russia still had limited gains to show for its worst military losses in decades, while much of Ukraine suffered devastation as Moscow ramped up artillery strikes to make up for its slow progress.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia is deliberately advancing slowly in what it calls its “special operation” to avoid civilian casualties, which Zelensky described as “completely unrealistic”.
“We will continue the special military operation until all goals are achieved,” Shoigu told the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russian-led military alliance in the former Soviet Union. The Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, said that the Moscow attack will continue as long as possible.
“We are not in a rush to meet deadlines,” he said.
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