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Russia expected to seize Ukraine’s Luhansk region soon: official

Russian forces could be weeks away from taking control of the key Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine as Ukrainian officials continued to demand more heavy weapons and ammunition from the West.

An unnamed senior US defense official told the Washington Post that the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which have seen some of the fiercest battles in recent weeks, could fall to Russia in the coming days.

Russia has made steady progress in the strategically important Donbass region – made up of Luhanks and Donetsk – pounding the area with heavy artillery day after day and inflicting heavy casualties on outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainian soldiers. .

It is widely believed that the fate of Donbass could dictate the course of the entire war, now in its fourth month.

The region is home to the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, which are controlled by Moscow-backed rebels who have been at war with Ukrainian forces since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

A military truck with the letter Z.
Russia has made steady gains in the strategically important Donbass region.
Russian Ministry of Defense via AP
Map of Ukraine
The map shows the latest events between Ukraine and Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin began his invasion in February with formal recognition of Kremlin-created proxy states, and as puppet regimes in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia introduce the ruble and issue Russian passports, there are fears that Russia will intends to take over Ukraine further.

“Kherson is Russia,” Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Kremlin occupation authority, told Russian state media last month.

After early failures to capture Kyiv and Kharkiv without proper planning, Russian forces regrouped and continued to seize the entire Sea of ​​Azov coast, including the strategic port of Mariupol, the entire Kherson region —- a key gateway to Crimea —- and much of the Zaporizhzhia region that could facilitate such a push deeper into Ukraine.

Ukrainian soldiers take a break after digging trenches.
Russia inflicted heavy casualties on outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainian soldiers.
Bernat Armangue/AP

The eastern city of Severodonetsk has become the linchpin of the Russian plan to bring Donbass to heel, and Serhiy Haidal, governor of the Obslate of Luhansk, wrote on Telegram on Sunday that the situation was “extremely difficult “.

Haidai said on Monday that all bridges leading to central Severodonetsk over the Siverskyi Donets River had been destroyed by the Russians, isolating the city from the relative height of Lysychansk on the other side. The loss of the bridges also makes evacuation, retreat or resupply extremely difficult, Haidai said.

“Residents of Severodonetsk who remained in the city are surviving in extremely difficult conditions,” he added.

A Ukrainian soldier fires a machine gun.
Ukraine would lose between 100 and 200 soldiers a day.
Gleb Garanich/REUTERS

Ukraine is losing between 100 and 200 troops a day, Mykhailo Podolyak, senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, told the BBC, as Russia has ‘thrown pretty much everything that isn’t nuclear on the frontline’ .

In his Sunday evening address, Zelensky said Ukrainian forces were fighting “literally forever” in Severodonetsk.

Russia has a clear artillery advantage in the Battle of Donbass, thanks to more heavy howitzers and rocket launchers and abundant ammunition. The Ukrainians had to be economical in the use of their artillery, with the Russians constantly targeting their supply lines.

Ukrainian service members fire a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launch system.
The Ukrainians had to be economical in the use of their artillery.
Gleb Garanich/REUTERS

In his recent remarks, Zelensky accused Western countries of ignoring Ukraine’s pleas to provide modern missile defense systems ahead of the Feb. 24 invasion.

“Did we get them? No. Do we need it? Yes,” he said. Zelensky further argued that thousands of lives could have been saved “if Ukraine had been listened to”.

The rare public rebuke came after President Joe Biden told an audience at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Los Angeles on Friday that Zelensky “didn’t want to hear” US warnings that Vladimir Putin was going to invade Israel. Ukraine.

Zelensky’s aides have strenuously denied that the Ukrainian leader ignored Biden’s warnings, with Podolyak calling the claim “absurd”.

“It is absurd to blame a country that resisted a superior aggressor for more than 100 days when key countries could not prevent the Russian Federation [from invading],” he said.

With pole wires

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Post expires at 12:12am on Saturday June 25th, 2022