Most of Severodonetsk now controlled by Russian forces, Ukraine says, as 'situation remains difficult'
Most of the city of Severodonetsk in Luhansk is now controlled by Russian forces as fighting in the street raged on Saturday, according to a Ukrainian official. Severdonetsk lies in the heart of Donbas, 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 Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. If Russian forces were to gain full control of Severodonetsk, the neighboring city of Lysychansk would become Ukraine’s last remaining stronghold in the Luhansk region. Russian-backed officials claim that negotiations are ongoing to release those inside the local Azot chemical plant, where 800 people are reportedly sheltering. Miroshnik claimed up to 400 Ukrainian combatants are taking refuge in the factory complex, alongside civilians in the plant’s bomb shelter. “The combatants are trying to make demands, namely to allow them to leave the territory of the chemical plant together with the hostages and to provide a corridor to go to Lysychansk. Talks are also underway to allow for the safe evacuation of the civilians, and for the safety of the Ukrainian forces if they surrender unconditionally, he added. Further south in Mariupol, an additional 24 deaths of children were reported by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office on Saturday, following Russian shelling during a months-long siege in the southern port city. The blockade ended last month after Russian forces took control of the Azovstal steel plant where Ukrainian forces had holed up. This brings the total death toll of minors during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to 287, the Prosecutor General’s Office said in a Telegram post.
The statement added that these figures are not complete, as work is underway to verify the deaths of children in other places where there is active fighting. The office also said that 1,971 educational institutions have been damaged by Russian bombardments, with 194 of them having been completely destroyed. On May 25, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, Petro Andrushchenko — who has also moved to Ukrainian-held territory — told CNN that Mariupol town hall officials believe at least 22,000 residents of the city were killed during three months of war. The news comes as the city is battling a potential cholera outbreak, according to a British intelligence report published on Friday. Access to drinking water, internet connection and phone services are unreliable in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, the report said, reflecting concerns of Ukrainian officials as Russia scrambles to provide basic public services to civilian populations in areas it has occupied. As Russian forces advance their control of key regions in Ukraine, and the number of civilian casualties rise, President Volodymyr Zelensky has remained firm in his stance that Ukraine will overcome Russia’s invasion. Speaking in a special virtual address to the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier defense conference, Zelensky said Ukraine will “definitely prevail” in its war against Russia. “This is the confrontation between the possible, which we and many people in the world need, and the impossible, for which Russia is so desperately fighting for,” Zelensky said. He added Russia regarded his country as its “colony” and was doing its utmost to make it impossible for Ukraine to “exist freely and independently. “Russia wishes to make it impossible for our people to use their land, resources and water in their best interest.
“It is on the battlefield in Ukraine that the future rules of this world are being decided along with the boundaries of the possible,” Zelensky said. “Let us save the whole world from coming back to the times when everything was decided based on the so-called right of might and when certain peoples and their ideas, and many nations, were of no consequence,” Zelensky said. Ukraine’s president also urged leaders to do whatever is needed to “break the ability of Russia and any other country in the world to block seas and destroy freedom of navigation. Zelensky warned that failure to do so would result in an “acute and severe food crisis and famine” in many Asian and African countries. Since the war began, Russia has been blocking 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 almost 30% of global trade, and Ukraine was the world’s fourth-largest exporter of corn and the fifth-largest exporter of wheat, according to the US State Department. “Ladies and gentlemen, I am grateful for your support to Ukraine, I am grateful for your attention to Ukraine, to our country. CNN’s Kostan Nechyporenko, Jonny Hallam and Joshua Berlinger contributed reporting.
Read full article at KION