As Moscow continues its offensive in Donbas, Ukraine, officials fear that the region will suffer the same fate as Mariupol, the war-torn country’s port city that fell to Russia after weeks of heavy fighting. The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has entered its fourth month, and the fighting is now concentrated on two major cities: Sevirodonetsk and the nearby regions of Ukrainian control in nearby Lysichansk, Luhansk – one of the two provinces forming the Donbas. Russian-backed separatists have already controlled parts of the Donbas region for eight years.
Here are ten updates on the war in Ukraine:
In his nightly video speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “If the invaders think that Lyman or Sevierodonetsk will get it, they are wrong. Donbas is Ukrainian.
Comparing the situation in Sievieraodonetsk with the Battle of Mariupol, Mayor Oleksandr Strike said: “The city is being systematically destroyed – 90% of the buildings in the city are damaged.”
The governor of the Luhansk region has told Ukraine that he has predicted victory in Sevirodonetsk but that its troops may have to retreat. “The Russians will not be able to conquer the Luhansk region in the coming days as analysts predict,” Serhi Haidai wrote in a telegram on Friday. “We have enough powers and means to defend ourselves.”
> In eastern Ukraine, Russian-backed rebels have taken control of the Donetsk region, Lyman. Ukrainian authorities have not confirmed this yet.
> Ukraine’s foreign minister is appealing to Western nations to provide heavy weapons to Kiev to push back Russian forces. “We need heavy weapons. The only place Russia is better than us is the amount of heavy weapons they have. Without artillery, without multiple launch rocket systems we would not be able to push them back, ”Dimitro Culeba said in the video.
> Italian Premier Mario Draghi spoke with Zelesnkyy on Friday, promising him “the support of the Italian government in coordination with the European Union.”
Meanwhile, the Kremlin-backed leader of the Russian southern province of Chechnya – in the video – has warned that Poland may be next in line after Ukraine.
Ramzan Kadyrov is best known for his shout-out, saying in a video posted to his official telegram page, “Ukraine has an expiration agreement” and said, “If you order after Ukraine, we’ll show you (Poland) what you’ve done in six seconds.”
> Russian President Vladimir Putin says Ukraine should remove sea mines from areas near its ports to allow safe shipping.
> UK’s top diplomats say that countries supporting Ukraine should “be ready for the long run” and that there should be no talks to “appease” Putin. Secretary of State Liz Truss met with his Czech counterpart in Prague on Friday, saying: “We have to make sure that Ukraine wins and Russia pulls out. We will never see this kind of Russian aggression.”
(With agency inputs)