The Ukrainian army is holding out against Russian bombardments in Severodonetsk, even claiming to have taken control of half of the key city of Donbass. President Volodymyr Zelensky ventured to go to the front in the region to support the soldiers there who have now been fighting for more than a hundred days against the Russian forces.
Despite Moscow’s threats to strike new targets, London sent a delivery of rocket launchers with a range of 80 kilometers to kyiv, in support of Ukraine. The Ukrainian capital was also targeted again by Russian strikes on Sunday morning, for the first time since the visit of the UN Secretary General in late April.
Ukraine claimed on Sunday that it had recaptured “half” of Severodonetsk and made progress in this key Donbass city under heavy fire from Russian forces, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to the frontlines in this region to support his soldiers.
In Severodonetsk, the Ukrainian army assures us that it is doing more than holding its own and that it is regaining ground. “Half the city is under the control of our defenders,” assured the governor of the Lugansk region, Sergey Gaïdaï, in an interview broadcast on social networks, specifying that they are “progressing”. We must expect, he added, citing interceptions of communications from the Russian command, an intensification of the Russian offensive for a capture of the city “before June 10”.
“We expect that, in the near future, all the reserves to which they have access, all the machines, all the troops, will be put to work to achieve” this objective, assured the governor.
For the Russians, getting their hands on the city would prove decisive for full control of the Donbass coalfield, already partly held by pro-Russian separatists since 2014. Ukrainian resistance in Severodonetsk “will probably continue to attract the attention of the forces on the Lugansk region and will therefore leave vulnerabilities in Russian defensive efforts in the Kharkiv region and along the southern axis,” the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) analyzed on Sunday.
Volodymyr Zelensky announced in his daily video message that he had visited his troops in Lyssychansk, a neighboring town of Severodonetsk. “We brought something to the army. I won’t talk about it in detail,” he said. The Head of State also went to Zaporijjia, in the south of the country.
In addition to the regional authorities, he met residents of Mariupol who had managed to flee the Russian bombardments. “Each family has its own story. Most were without men,” he noted. “One’s husband has gone to war, another’s is in captivity, yet another’s, sadly, is dead. A tragedy. No home, no love. But we must live for the children. Real heroes, they are among us”.
If the fighting is concentrated in the south and east, particularly in Severodonetsk, “kyiv remains the main objective of the Russian occupier”, Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar assured local media on Sunday, also asking for a “constant support” from the West. The Ukrainian capital was indeed hit by several Russian strikes on Sunday morning, for the first time since the end of April.
Moscow says it targeted a freight car repair workshop in the south-east of kyiv, 10 km from the city center, and destroyed there armored vehicles supplied to Ukraine by Eastern European countries. “High-precision, long-range missiles fired (…) at the outskirts of kyiv destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by Eastern European countries and other armored vehicles that were in hangars “said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
This was denied by Ukrainian officials and witnesses on the spot. “This is another example of Russian-made falsification to justify this brutal war against Ukraine,” Serhii Leshchenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian railway company’s supervisory board, told AFP.
In the evening, AFP was able to see the destruction of several hangars and a large crater caused by a shell, while firefighters were still trying to control a small fire.
On Rossiya-1 television, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened further strikes on “sites which we have not targeted so far”, if the West supplies long-range missiles to Ukraine, which which he says aims to “prolong the conflict”.
This warning did not prevent London from announcing Monday the delivery to kyiv of rocket launchers with a range of 80 kilometers (M270 MLRS), coming in addition to the American Himars, rocket launchers mounted on light armored vehicles, the same scope, promised last week by Washington.