Russian forces launched offensives against cities in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, with constant missile bombardment, destroying several homes and killing civilians, Ukrainian officials said, as Russia focused its attack on the industrial region of Donbas.
After failing to take Kiev or Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, Russia is trying to seize the remainder of the two Donbas provinces claimed by pro-Russian separatists, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front. .
In the easternmost part of the Ukrainian-controlled Donbas pocket, the city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets River and its twin Lysychansk on the west bank became a crucial battleground. Russian forces were advancing from three directions to encircle them.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said the Russians had launched an offensive in Sievierodonetsk today, and the city was under constant mortar fire.
Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said six civilians had been killed and at least eight wounded, mostly near air-raid shelters, in Sievierodonetsk.
“At the moment, with the support of artillery, the Russian occupiers are attacking Sievierodonetsk,” Gaidai said.
Ukraine’s military said it repelled nine Russian attacks on Tuesday in Donbas, where Moscow troops killed at least 14 civilians, using aircraft, rocket launchers, artillery, tanks, mortars and missiles.
Reuters could not immediately verify information about the fighting.
In the city of Sloviansk, west of Donbas, many residents took advantage of what Ukraine said was a lull in the Russian attack to leave. “My house was bombed, I have nothing,” said Vera Safronova, sitting in a train car among those evacuated.
Along with the Donbas region, Moscow is also targeting southern Ukraine and has blocked ships that would normally export Ukrainian grain and sunflower oil across the Black Sea, driving up prices globally and threatening lives.
“It cannot be in Russia’s interest that, because of Russia, people are starving abroad,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Reuters on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, asking for a dialogue.
Russia, which blames Ukraine and the West for the food crisis, said it was ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for ships carrying food to leave Ukraine but said Western sanctions would need to be lifted in return.
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Translated to english by RJ983
From Brazil, by EBC News