Russian forces cut off the last way to evacuate citizens from the city of eastern Ukraine SeverodonetskA Ukrainian official said, at a time when the Kremlin sought victory in the Donbass region.
District Governor Sergei Gaidai said the last bridge to the city was destroyed, trapping any remaining civilians and making it impossible to deliver humanitarian supplies, adding that about 70% of the city was under Russian control.
Ukraine has issued increasingly urgent calls for more Western heavy weapons to help in the defense SeverodonetskWhich Kyiv says could hold the key to the battle in the eastern Donbass region and the course of the war, is now in its fourth month.
Late Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said the battle for eastern Donbass would become one of the most brutal in European history. Russian separatists claim the area, which includes Luhansk and Donetsk provinces.
“For us, the price of this fight is too high. It is scary,” he said.
“We draw the attention of our partners daily to the fact that only a sufficient number of modern artillery of Ukraine will ensure our advantage.”
Russia’s main goal is to protect Donetsk and Luhansk, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, after the leader of one of the breakaway regions requested additional troops from Moscow.
Presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolak said on Monday that Ukraine needs 1,000 howitzers, 500 tanks and 1,000 drones among other heavy weapons.
Moscow has released the latest of several reports that it has destroyed US and European weapons and equipment.
The Russian Defense Ministry said high-precision air missiles landed near a railway station in Odachny, northwest of Donetsk, hitting equipment delivered to Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said on Telegram that Odakny was hit by a Russian strike on Sunday night and into Monday, without saying whether the weapons had been targeted.
Moscow has criticized the United States and other countries for sending weapons to Ukraine and has threatened to strike new targets if the West provides long-range missiles.
The European Commission will recommend granting Ukraine official status as a candidate country for EU membership, Politico reported late Monday, citing several unnamed officials.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday that the European Commission’s opinion on Ukraine’s application for accession would be ready by the end of this week.
The RIA news agency quoted the pro-Moscow separatist spokesman Eduard Basurin as saying that the Ukrainian forces are effectively surrounded in the area. Severodonetsk He must surrender or die.
The situation risked becoming like Mariupol, “with a large pocket of Ukrainian defenders isolated from the rest of the Ukrainian forces,” according to Damien Magro, a spokesman for the International Defense Corps of Ukraine who had troops in Severodonetsk.
During the fall of Mariupol last month, hundreds of seriously wounded Ukrainian civilians and soldiers were trapped for weeks in Azovstal’s steel mills.
Russia denied targeting civilians in what it described as a “special operation” to restore Russian security and “discredit” its neighbour.
Ukraine and its Western allies describe this as a baseless excuse for an invasion that has killed thousands of civilians and raised fears of a wider conflict in Europe.
More than 5 million people fled and the world was hit by a food and energy crisis, dividing Western countries over how to deal with it.
After failing to capture the capital Kyiv in the aftermath of the invasion on February 24, Moscow has focused on expanding its control in Donbas, where pro-Russian separatists have controlled territory since 2014. Russia has also attempted to seize more of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.
“The entire front is under constant bombardment,” Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kirilenko told Ukrainian television on Monday evening.
He said the towns of Marinka, Krasnohorivka and Voledar were bombed in the coal production belt and Avdiivka, home to a large coke plant.
Gidayi said a six-year-old boy was among those killed in the latest bombing of Lysechansk.
Officials in the Russian-backed separatist-controlled Donetsk region said at least three people, including a child, were killed and 18 wounded in a Ukrainian bombing of a market in the city of Donetsk.
The Donetsk news agency showed pictures of burnt-out stalls in the Maisky Central Market and several bodies on the ground. The news agency said 155mm artillery shells conforming to NATO specifications hit parts of the area on Monday.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
In Bakhmut, in Donetsk, a resident who gave her name as Valya surveyed the debris of an apartment building that local authorities said had been hit by an air strike.
“We went to bed, we’re old, you know. Then all of a sudden… terrifying, look what happened,” she said. “Nothing good is going on here.”
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