Russian forces took control of parts of the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk on Tuesday after street fighting with Ukrainian defenders, cementing Moscow’s hold on one of Kyiv’s most important strongholds in the Donbass region, which it has recently focused on. attack in Ukraine.
Russia intensified its efforts to seize the strategically important city as Western leaders took new measures to punish Moscow for its conquest. The Biden administration plans to provide Ukraine with Precision Guided Missile Systems To strengthen Ukrainian firepower against Russian forces.
It’s unclear how many of the new systems, which US officials say can hit targets from 40 miles or more away, the United States will provide, but one official said it could reach Ukraine within weeks. Training on how to use them will start quickly and will take at least 10 days.
Western governments hope that the constant flow of weapons to the Kyiv government can change the calculus The battle in eastern UkraineRussia wants to seize Donbass, once Ukraine’s industrial stronghold, bordering Russia.
“The Russian army is trying to muster overwhelming forces in certain regions to put more and more pressure on our defenders,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech late Monday. “There, in the Donbass, the Russian army mustered the maximum combat power.”
Leonid Bashnik, the Russia-backed leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, told Russian news agency TASS on Tuesday that a third of Severodonetsk is controlled by separatist forces. A video of Russian-allied Chechen fighters in the city showed soldiers moving unimpeded in the city centre. The Luhansk region and adjacent Donetsk make up the Donbass region.
The fall of Severodonetsk would bring the Russians closer to their goal of controlling Donbass and give them a tighter grip on the roads to Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, which are seen as the most important Ukrainian army strongholds in the region. Russia’s attack on Severodonetsk came at a heavy price for its manpower-strapped armed forces after their failed attempt to seize Kyiv.
“Street fighting continues in Severodonetsk,” Luhansk region governor Serhiy Haiday said, adding that Ukrainian forces were trying to push Russian forces to the outskirts of the city.
If Ukraine ceded Severodonetsk to the Russians, Kyiv’s forces would likely return to the neighboring city of Lyschansk, which overlooks Severodonetsk across the Seversky Donetsk River.
Also on Tuesday, two Russian soldiers were found guilty of firing missiles indiscriminately at civilian areas, in The Second War Crimes Trial in Ukraine Since the start of the war in February. The two soldiers were sentenced to 11 years and six months in prison, less than six months of the maximum sentence in Ukraine for violating the laws of war.
Prosecutors said the attacks at the center of the case occurred on the first day of the war, early in the morning of February 24. The soldiers’ regiment was deployed to Belgorod, Russia, just across the border from Kharkiv, with soldiers in their wagon and other vehicles firing dozens of missiles at Ukraine, according to testimonies. The missiles hit a power station, apartment buildings, and a veterinary school.
Prosecutors said the soldiers crossed the border into Ukraine and continued shooting, this time in Kharkiv. Their column was attacked, and the two soldiers, a driver and a gunner, later surrendered to the Ukrainian forces.
Russia moved to deepen its control over some occupied territories. The deputy head of the military and civil administration of the Kherson region, Kirill Strimosov, told TASS that the region plans to become an official Russian region in the “near future”.
Mr. Strimosov, in comments reported by Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti, added that all stores in Kherson now accept the Russian ruble, while TASS reported that Ukrainian mobile communications were cut off after residents were pushed to switch to Russian. SIM cards.
On Monday, the European Union said it would introduce a sixth sanctions package that includes Russian oil embargo Because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The embargo will include an exemption for oil delivered from Russia via pipelines, the amount that makes up a third of the European Union’s purchases of oil from Russia. European Union officials said that by the end of this year, the embargo will cover 90% of Russia’s former oil imports. It will be implemented in phases over several months.
Russia cut off natural gas shipments to Dutch state-owned energy company Gas Terra after it refused to pay in rubles as demanded by Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.
The company, which is 50% owned by the Dutch government, joins Poland, Bulgaria and Finland, whose gas supplies Russia has halted due to the payment mechanism. some The largest natural gas facilities in EuropeHowever, they agreed to new payment terms with Russia’s Gazprom SAOG.
—Georgi Kanchev contributed to this article.
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