As Donbass fighting rages, Syevyerodonetsk and Lysychansk are ‘ghost towns’, says Zelenskiy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says a ‘threatening situation’ has developed in Zaporizhzhya, where Russian troops intend to capture the region’s main town even as they fight for control of the city Eastern Syevyerodonetsk.

“The enemy wants…to occupy the city of Zaporizhzhya,” Zelenskiy said at a June 6 press conference.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also stated that Russian troops reinforcement towards Zaporizhzhya. Capturing the southeastern city would allow the Russian army to advance closer to the center of the country.

The Zaporizhzhya region, parts of which have already been captured by Russia, is one of the largest industrial regions in southeastern Ukraine.

Zelenskiy, who on June 5 visited Lysychansk and Soledar, two towns close to some of the heaviest fighting, also spoke about the fighting in Donbass. He said that in the Luhansk region, the Ukrainian resistance continues in Syevyerodonetsk, one of the two key towns in the region which is still not in Russian hands.

“They are more numerous, they are more powerful, but we have every chance to fight in this direction,” Zelenskiy said.

In the northeast region of Kharkiv, the Ukrainian army is “gradually clearing our lands” from Russian invaders, Zelenskiy said.

He also said the country hoped to create secure corridors that would allow its ships to export grain from Black Sea ports blocked by fighting. Ukraine is in talks with Turkey and Britain on security guarantees for Ukrainian ships carrying grain, he said.

“It is important for us that there is a security corridor…that the fleet of this or that country ensures the shipment of grain,” Zelenskiy said.

Grain exports were discussed at the UN Security Council in New York, where European Council President Charles Michel blamed the Kremlin for a looming global food crisis.

Michel spoke directly to Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya during a June 6 council meeting, saying he had seen millions of tonnes of grain and wheat stuck in containers and ships in the Ukrainian port of Odessa a few weeks ago “because of Russian warships in the Black Sea”. ”

His comments prompted Nebenzya to come out.

Thousands of people were caught in the crossfire in Syevyerodonetsk as Governor Serhiy Hayday said Russian forces turned to “scorched earth tactics”.

Hayday said Russian shelling on June 6 also targeted Syevyerodonetsk’s twin city, Lysychansk. He said Russia had devoted a “simply incredible” number of troops and equipment to shelling the main access road to Lysychansk and Syevyerodonetsk, which connects Bakhmut and Lysychansk.

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Separately, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief said the fighting around Syevyerodonetsk is now the “hottest” conflict zone in Ukraine.

General Kyrylo Budanov said Ukrainian forces were advancing against the Russians in the important eastern rail hub despite “a tenfold enemy advantage in artillery”.

It was not possible to independently verify the claim.

Oleksandr Stryuk, mayor of Syevyerodonetsk, said the situation was “changing hour by hour” and it was unclear which side had the upper hand.

Russian troops are also targeting Sloviansk, in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, and resumed their offensive near Svyatyhorsk, some 20 kilometers north of Sloviansk, suffering casualties, the state said. Major of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Thousands of people have fled Sloviansk, a city that had around 100,000 inhabitants before the war, but some 30,000 are still inside.

British intelligence suggested on June 6 that the Russian troop push towards Sloviansk was part of their attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces.

In a coordinated move with the United States, Britain said it would supply Ukraine with multiple-launch rocket systems that could hit targets up to 80 kilometers away, providing the most accurate firepower and long range needed to hit Russian artillery batteries.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the M270 multiple launch rocket system will help Ukraine defend against Russia. No figures have been quoted, but according to sources quoted by the BBC there will initially be three systems.

The United States announced last week that it is also providing a HIMARS rocket system capable of firing rockets with precision up to a distance of 80 kilometers.

US President Joe Biden said he would provide the HIMARS system to Ukraine after being assured it would not be used to strike targets inside Russia.

The Ukrainians had requested longer-range systems that could reach targets up to 300 kilometers away so they could strike from the rear of Russian forces, but Washington was reluctant to provide them.

Britain’s M270 multiple launch rocket system can fire 12 surface-to-surface missiles in a minute and can hit targets up to 80 kilometers away with pinpoint accuracy. However, the technical description of the M270 indicates that, depending on the ammunition used, it can hit targets as far away as 300 kilometers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on June 5 that Moscow would hit new targets if Washington supplied long-range missiles to Ukraine.

Putin told the Rossia-1 TV channel that if US multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) were supplied to Ukraine, “we will draw appropriate conclusions and use our own weapons, of which we have enough, in order to to hit those facilities we’re not targeting yet.”

Delivering new weapons to Kyiv would only “prolong the armed conflict as long as possible”, Putin said.

Explosions rocked the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on June 5, Ukrainian officials said.

The British Ministry of Defense said in its June 6 Daily Intelligence Bulletin that Russian Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles struck rail infrastructure in Kyiv and were “likely intended to disrupt the supply of Western military equipment of Ukrainian front-line units”.

Ukraine’s military said late on June 5 that a senior Kremlin-backed separatist commander had been killed in action.

The news was first reported by Russian state media journalist Aleksandr Sladkov on June 5, who did not say when or where Major General Roman Kutuzov was killed.

Ukraine’s military’s Strategic Communications Administration said on June 5 that Kutuzov had been “officially denazified and demilitarized” – a mocking reference to Putin’s stated goal of “denazifying and demilitarizing” Ukraine – while he was leading an attack on a village near the town of Popasna in the Luhansk region.

Several Russian generals have been killed since the invasion began on February 24, although Moscow has only officially confirmed the deaths of four. Ukraine claimed at one point that up to seven people had been killed in the conflict, only two of whom were later found alive.

With reporting from Reuters, BBC, CNN, AFP and AP

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