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Russia launches attack on separatists to occupy Ukraine’s province – SABC News

Russian soldiers bombed a riverside city on Friday and appear to have launched a major attack to occupy the last remaining Ukrainian territory in a province it is demanding on behalf of the dissidents.

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces had launched a massive artillery bombing against Sevierodonetsk, one of the last Ukrainian bastions in Luhansk, one of two southeastern provinces proclaimed an independent state by Moscow and its agents.

The city and the twin Lischansk, located on the other bank of the Seversky-Donetsk River, form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to run away since mid-April after failing to occupy the capital, Kiev.

“The Russian army has begun very intense destruction in the city of Sevierodonetsk, the intensity of the shelling has doubled, residential areas are being shot down, house-to-house destruction,” said Sergei Gaidai on the Telegram channel in Luhansk.

“We don’t know how many people died because it’s simply impossible to go through and see every apartment,” he said.

Ukraine’s General Staff has said it has repressed the offensive against Sevierodonetsk, which is part of what it describes as major Russian military operations on a stretch of the front line.

Despite losing ground elsewhere in recent weeks, Russian forces have advanced on the Luhansk front, which some military analysts say is a major boost to achieving reduced war targets, that is, to occupy larger areas demanded by pro-Russian rebels.

“It will be the next few weeks in the conflict,” said Mathieu Boulegue, an expert at the Chatham House think tank in London. – And it also depends on how effective they are in conquering Sievierodonetsk and the areas through it.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Soygu said in Moscow that “the liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic” is coming to an end.

In a night speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Donbash, which includes Luhansk and the neighboring province of Donetsk, was described as “hell,” saying Russia had “completely destroyed” the region.

VICTORY

Occupying Luhansk and Donetsk would allow Moscow to win, after announcing last month that this is now the goal. He took a big step towards that goal this week when Ukraine ordered its garrison in Mariupol, the main port of the Donbas, to shut down after nearly three months of siege.

According to Russian Shoigu, about 2,000 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered in the past four days.

Kyiv has not confirmed how many fighters have surrendered, but Britain has given the first official Western confirmation that a large Ukrainian force has laid down its arms at the power plant, estimating the number at around 1,700. It is believed that unknown people were still present in it. said.

The commander of the Ukrainian battalion Azov, who defended the power plant, confirmed in a video that the order to stop the fighting was being executed and said that all civilians and wounded fighters had now disembarked.

Denys Prokopenko, the commander, did not reveal details of the fate of other fighters, but said the dead were being removed from underground tunnels and bunkers.

“I hope that in the near future, relatives and Ukraine will be able to bury their soldiers with honor,” Prokopenko said.

The Red Cross claims to have registered hundreds of Ukrainians who have surrendered as prisoners of war, but has not provided exact figures.

Kyiv says it wants to organize a prisoner exchange for the defenders of Azovstal, who it calls a hero. According to Moscow, they will be treated humanely, but Russian politicians say some should be brought to justice and even executed for crimes.

FOOD AS A HOSTAGE

Last week, Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership, the biggest shock to European security in decades, although Turkey has said it will block the move, accusing the Nordic countries of hiding Kurdish militants.

After threatening retaliation for weeks, Putin appears to have mostly climbed down, and this week said Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership alone is not a threat unless the alliance sends new weapons or troops. Nevertheless, Defense Minister Sojgu said on Friday that Moscow plans to strengthen its forces nearby in response to its new threats.

Russian forces in Ukraine have been displaced in recent weeks from the vicinity of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, the fastest retreat since they were displaced from the north and around Kyiv in late March.

But much of it is still controlled in the south and east, and the end of the fighting in Mariupol means the area is now largely unbroken. Ukraine says Russia is trying to introduce its own government and may try to annex the occupied territories, possibly by organizing fake votes.

Nevertheless, military analysts say Russia has used its firepower against an underrated adversary and is likely to run out of time to reach its target, the entire Donbass.

“Nothing is set yet. But this will be the next phase… before the Kremlin has to freeze its positions on the ground, stop advancing and switch to situational warfare, ”said Boulegue, an expert at Chatham House.

As a sign of Russia’s efforts to step up its war effort, the Moscow parliament has announced that it is considering recruiting Russians over the age of 40 and foreigners over the age of 30 for military service. Putin refrained from declaring his “special operation” a war that would facilitate the mobilization of reservists and conscripts.

Russia launches attack on separatists to occupy Ukraine’s province – SABC News

Source link Russia launches attack on separatists to occupy Ukraine’s province – SABC News

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