Severodonetsk: Russia now controls most of the Ukrainian strategic city

Street fighting continued to rage on Saturday in the east of the city, where Russian soldiers and Ukrainian troops are still locked in battle.

“The situation remains difficult. The fighting continues, but unfortunately most of the city is under Russian control. Some positional battles are taking place in the streets,” said Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, who constitutes the Donbass with the neighbour. Donetsk region.

“Unfortunately, the enemy artillery is only dismantling buildings from floor to floor that serve as shelters. In this sense, it is difficult because the enemy will be thrown from a street and then he will start to dismantling neighborhoods house by house with tanks, artillery and graduates,” forcing Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk to continually move to new positions and regroup, the governor said.

In his Saturday night address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised Ukrainian forces in the region, saying he was “proud of our defenders who were able to stop the advance of these hostile people, these occupiers, for many weeks and keep our defense strong.

Zelensky said the fight for the strategic city could dictate the outcome of the war in the east of the country.

“Severodonetsk remains the epicenter of the confrontation in the Donbass,” Zelensky said earlier in the week.

“It’s a very fierce, very difficult battle… Probably one of the most difficult in this whole war,” he added. “In many ways, the fate of our Donbass is decided there.”

Severodonetsk sits in the heart of Donbass, a sprawling industrial region in eastern Ukraine that has seen intermittent fighting since 2014, when Russian-backed separatists seized control of two territories, the self-declared People’s Republic of Donetsk and the Luhansk People’s Republic.

Haidai said on Saturday Ukraine still controlled the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk, where 800 people are believed to have taken refuge, after a Russian-backed official claimed Ukrainian fighters were also trapped there.

“The story of the Azot plant blockade is a complete lie spread by Russian propagandists,” Haidai said on the Telegram messaging app.

Rodion Miroshnik, a Russian-backed leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, said on Saturday that up to 400 Ukrainian fighters were taking refuge in the factory complex, hiding alongside civilians in bomb shelters, and negotiations for their surrender and the safe evacuation of civilians were underway.

“The fighters are trying to make demands, namely to allow them to leave the territory of the chemical plant with the hostages and to provide a corridor to get to Lysychansk. Such demands are unacceptable and will not be considered,” Miroshnik said. .

Ukrainian soldiers speak during heavy fighting against Russia on the front line in Severodonetsk on June 8, 2022.

Death toll rises in Mariupol

Further south, in Mariupol, another 24 child deaths were reported by Ukraine’s attorney general’s office on Saturday, following Russian shelling during a month-long siege in the southern port city.

The blockade ended last month after Russian forces took control of the Azovstal steelworks where Ukrainian forces had been entrenched.

This brings the total death toll of minors during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to 287, the attorney general’s office said in a Telegram article. More than 492 children were injured during the war, according to the statement.

The statement added that the figures are not complete, as work is underway to verify child deaths in other places where there is active fighting.

Fresh graves are seen at a cemetery in the city of Mariupol on June 2, 2022.

The bureau also said that 1,971 educational institutions were damaged by the Russian bombardment, of which 194 were completely destroyed.

On May 25, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, Petro Andrushchenko – who also moved to Ukrainian-held territory – told CNN that Mariupol city hall officials believe that at least 22,000 residents of the city had been killed during three months of war.

The news comes as the city battles a possible cholera outbreak, according to a British intelligence report released on Friday.

Access to drinking water, internet connection and telephone services is unreliable in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, the report says, reflecting concerns of Ukrainian officials as Russia strives to provide basic public services to the civilian population in the areas it occupied.

In his Saturday night address, Zelensky said “about 32,000” Russian troops have been killed since the invasion began. Earlier on Saturday, Ukraine’s military said total Russian combat casualties since February 24 were “about 32,050”.

CNN cannot independently verify Ukraine’s figures on the number of Russian soldiers killed in the conflict and the exact death toll remains uncertain.

“Ukraine will definitely win”

A satellite image shows damaged buildings near the Chemist's Palace of Culture in downtown Severodonetsk on June 6, 2022.

As Russian forces advance in their control of key regions of Ukraine and civilian casualties mount, Zelensky has remained firm in his position that Ukraine will overcome the Russian invasion.

Speaking in a special virtual address to the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier defense conference, Zelensky said Ukraine will “definitely win” in its war against Russia.

“It’s the confrontation between the possible, which we and many people around the world need, and the impossible, which Russia is fighting so desperately for,” Zelensky said.

He added that Russia considers his country its “colony” and is doing everything possible to prevent Ukraine “from existing freely and independently”.

Russia's war is ravaging the Donbass, the beleaguered heart of Ukraine.  Here's what the region means to Putin

“Russia wishes to prevent our people from using their land, resources and water for their best interests. Russia wishes to steal them, and this active plunder of the territory which they have (succeeded) in occupying – they literally take everything away from them. “, added Zelensky.

“It is on the battlefield in Ukraine that the future rules of this world are decided and the limits of what is possible,” Zelensky said.

“Let’s save the whole world from going back to the time when everything was decided on the basis of the so-called law of force and certain peoples and their ideas, and many nations, did not matter,” Zelensky said.

Ukraine’s president also urged leaders to do whatever is necessary to “break the ability of Russia and any other country in the world to block the seas and destroy the freedom of navigation.”

Why Russia is accused of using food as a weapon of war

Zelensky warned that failure to do so would lead to “acute and severe food crisis and famine” in many Asian and African countries. He added that the Black Sea, through which Ukraine exported most of its food before the Russian invasion, has become the most dangerous waterway in the world.

Since the start of the war, Russia has prevented Ukraine from exporting goods from its ports, fueling fears of a global food crisis.

Before the war, wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine accounted for nearly 30% of world trade, and Ukraine was the world’s fourth-largest corn exporter and fifth-largest wheat exporter, according to the US State Department. . The United Nations World Food Program – which helps tackle global food insecurity – buys around half of its wheat from Ukraine each year and has warned of dire consequences if Ukrainian ports are not open.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am grateful for your support for Ukraine, I am grateful for your attention to Ukraine, to our country. But remember that this support and attention is not not just for Ukraine, but also for you,” Zelensky said. said.

Kostan Nechyporenko, Jonny Hallam, Masha Angelova, Joshua Berlinger and CNN’s Mariya Knight contributed reporting.

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Post expires at 1:43am on Thursday June 23rd, 2022