Russian Shelling Triggers Fire in Eastern City of Sievierodonetsk: Governor

Russia’s bombing of an Azot chemical plant in the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk sparked a massive fire on Saturday after tons of oil spilled, the regional governor said, as the battle for control of the city intensified.

Russian forces’ attempt to seize Severodonetsk became one of the bloodiest battles since their invasion on February 24, with neither side delivering a fatal blow in weeks of fighting that devastated parts of the city.

Luhansk Provincial Governor Serhiy Gaidai did not say whether the fire at the factory, where hundreds of civilians were sheltering, had been put out. Reuters could not independently verify the report.

Speaking on national television, Gaidai said ongoing fighting broke out in Severodonetsk, a small city in Luhansk that has become the focus of Russia’s advance in eastern Ukraine. He said earlier on Saturday that Russian forces had captured most of the city, but that Ukraine had controlled the nitrogen chemical plant.

Ukraine has called for a faster delivery of heavy weapons from the West to turn the tide of the war, saying that Russian forces have at least 10 times more artillery pieces than Ukrainian forces. However, the Ukrainian army, even when superior, proved more resilient than expected in the early stages of the fighting.

President Volodymyr Zelensky made a defiant note on Saturday.

“We will certainly win this war started by Russia,” Zelensky told a conference in Singapore via video link. “On the battlefields of Ukraine the future rules of this world are determined.”

Forced to scale back its initial, more comprehensive campaign goals, Moscow has turned to extending its control in the east, where pro-Russian separatists have already controlled an swathe of land since 2014.

The eastern region known as Donbas includes the provinces of Luhansk, where Sievierodonetsk is located, and Donetsk.

Russian strikes cut power supplies in the two largest Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk cities on Saturday, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko wrote on the Telegram app.

Speaking later on national television, he said the move was part of a deliberate strategy to cut off electricity to towns in Donetsk that are still in Ukrainian hands. He said, “The enemy understands where to strike and for what purpose.”

Cereal shortage

The conflict between the two neighbors – two of the world’s largest grain exporters – has reverberated outside Ukraine.

“If, due to the Russian blockade, we cannot export our food, which is sorely lacking on world markets, the world will face an acute and severe food crisis and famine – famine in many countries of Asia and Africa,” Zelensky said. Shangri-La Dialogue Conference in Singapore.

The United Nations said on Friday that up to 19 million additional people in the world could face chronic hunger in the next year due to reduced exports of wheat and other foods.

Ukraine’s deputy agriculture minister said on Saturday that up to 300,000 tons of grain may have been stored in warehouses at the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv, which Kyiv says was destroyed by Russian bombing last week.

Turkey tried to secure a deal so Ukraine could resume shipments from its Black Sea ports, which accounted for 98% of its pre-war grain and oilseed exports. But Moscow says Kyiv must clear the mines and Ukraine says it needs security guarantees so they are not left exposed.

Ukraine has repeatedly called for more Western weapons and a closer alliance with the West.

“As Ukrainian forces use their last stocks of Soviet-era weapons systems and munitions, they will need consistent Western support to transition to new supply chains for ammunition and major artillery systems,” the Institute for the Study of War said in a report. Friday.

“Effective artillery will be increasingly crucial in the largely static fighting in eastern Ukraine,” she said.

The Battle of Severodonetsk and its destruction recalled weeks of bombardment of the southern port city of Mariupol. It was reduced to rubble before Russian forces took control of the city last month, with the last Ukrainian defenders surrendering from their stronghold at the Azovstal steel mill.

Moscow denied targeting civilians, but both sides said that each had inflicted heavy losses on the other’s forces.

Reuters was unable to independently verify battlefield reports in the conflict.

Russia describes its actions as a “special military operation” to disarm and “discredit” Ukraine, while Kyiv and its allies describe it as an unjustified war of aggression to seize territory.

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