- Russian forces have stepped up their offensive to capture the main city of Luhansk
- Ukrainians may retreat but will not give up the fight – Governor
- Turkey, Russia urge UN to allow Ukrainian grain exports
Kiev / Slovenesk, Ukraine, June 8 (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces returned to the eastern suburbs of the city of Siverodonetsk on Wednesday in the face of heavy Russian aggression, the regional governor said. The bloody wars of war.
Russia has in recent weeks concentrated its troops and gunpowder on the small industrial city to defend the surrounding province on behalf of separatist proxies. Ukraine has promised to fight there as much as possible, saying that this war will help shape the course of the war.
After announcing a surprise counterattack last week, the governor of the surrounding Luhansk region said on Wednesday that much of the city was back in Russian hands.
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“… our (forces) are now again controlling only the suburbs of the city, but the fighting is still going on,” Sergei Kaitoi told RBC-Ukrainian media.
Ukrainian forces still control all of Lyczynsk, a small twin town on the west bank of the Shivarsky Donets River, but Russian forces are destroying residential buildings there, Kaitoi said in an online post.
Russia’s troops have 10 times more equipment than Ukrainian troops in some parts of Siverodonetsk, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. Ukraine wants its Western allies to speed up arms supplies, warning that Russia could break its borders in the east.
“We are defending our positions and inflicting significant losses on the enemy. This is a very fierce battle, a very difficult one, perhaps one of the toughest in this war,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky said in his evening speech.
“() In many respects, the fate of the Donbass is determined there,” Zhelensky added.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the ground conditions in Sverdlovsk.
Moscow claims to be engaged in a “special military operation” to disarm and “reduce” its neighbors. Ukraine and its allies claim that Moscow has launched an unprovoked war of aggression, killing thousands of civilians and leveling cities.
UN figures show that more than 7 million people have crossed the border into Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on February 24.
‘God Saved Me’
Luhansk and the neighboring province of Donetsk form the Donbass, which has been claimed by Moscow since 2014 on behalf of Moscow’s representatives who hold the eastern part of the region. Moscow is trying to encircle Ukrainian forces in areas they still hold.
Women with small children lined up to collect aid, while other residents carried buckets of water across the city, west of Sivrodonetsk in Sloviansk, one of the main Donbass cities in Ukrainian hands.
Most of the residents fled, but officials say about 24,000 people are staying in the city in the wake of an expected offensive that Russian forces will reunite in the north.
Albina Petrovna, 85, described the moment her building was trapped in an attack, which shattered her windows and destroyed her balcony.
“The broken glass fell on me, but God saved me, I have scratches everywhere …” she said.
Russia has turned its attention to the Donbass since its forces were defeated on the outskirts of Kiev in March.
The Ukrainian military says four people have been killed in Russian shelling of about 20 cities in Donbass in the past 24 hours, and its troops have killed 31 Russian soldiers. Reuters could not immediately confirm the figures.
In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, residents were clearing debris from a shelling attack the previous day. Ukraine pushed Russian forces out of the city’s suburbs last month, but Russia still attacks from time to time.
CCTV footage shows a suspicious missile shattering a supermarket, debris and items at a Kharkiv shopping mall late Tuesday. Scenes shot from the drone showed a gap in the roof of the large building.
“The support pillars were completely destroyed,” said Svitlana Tulina, manager of the supermarket, who said no one was injured in the attack.
Fear of grain
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and Western nations accuse Russia of creating the risk of global famine by besieging Ukraine’s Black Sea and Azov Sea ports. Moscow blames Western sanctions for food shortages
The Turkish broker is trying to negotiate the opening of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and said the deal would be possible with UN support for ports through further talks. read more
Ukrainian ports could be opened, but Lavrov said Ukraine would have to demine them first. Ukraine has rejected Russia’s guarantees as “empty words” and said Russian attacks on farmland and farmland would exacerbate the crisis.
Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, whose Russian warships destroyed warehouses at one of Ukraine’s largest agricultural terminals, told Reuters that Moscow was trying to scare the world into complying with its terms. read more
The Kremlin previously quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying that Western barriers to Russian grain markets should be removed. read more
Further raising the stakes, the Russian-established administration in the occupied territory of Zaporizhia in southern Ukraine said it planned to hold a referendum on joining Russia later this year. And Russian-established authorities in the western Kherson province have announced similar plans.
Some lawmakers from Russia’s ruling United Russia party have suggested that Donbass join Russia. The region has not yet announced a referendum, but the separatist leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Bush, changed his government on Wednesday, citing the need to increase “integration processes.”
Ukraine and its Western allies consider the planned referendum in the occupied territories to be illegal and prove that Russia’s real motive is regional aggression. read more
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Additional report by Tom Balmforth, Natalia Zinets, David Ljunggren and Reuters bureaux; Written by Himani Sarkar, Gareth Jones and Filippa Fletcher; Editing by Michael Perry, Peter Groff, Alex Richardson and Cynthia Asterman
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