Russia-Ukraine war: Street fighting rages on in Severodonetsk, Ukraine calls for more weapons

0
9

June 11 (UPI) — Fighting in the Russia-Ukraine war raged on in the streets of the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk on Saturday as Kyiv pleaded for more weapons from allies.

The city, an industrial center in the embattled Luhansk oblast, has become critical in Russia’s plan to capture Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. The Luhansk oblast, along with Donetsk, is collectively known as the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine that has been partially controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

Advertisement

“Fighting continues, but unfortunately, most of the city is under Russian control,” Regional Gov. Serhiy Haidai told CNN. “Some positional battles are taking place in the streets.”

Russian-backed officials said negotiations were underway to release hundreds of people sheltering in the local Azot chemical plant, according to CNN.

If the Russian advance were to fully capture Severodonetsk, the neighboring city of Lysychansk would be Ukraine’s last stronghold in the Luhansk region.

Advertisement

On June 2, the day before the Russia-Ukraine war hit its 100-day mark, Moscow had captured the majority of the city of Severodonetsk, a British military report said. But since then, Ukraine recaptured ground, and Russian forces have not been able to seize control of the south of the city, according to a British Ministry of Defense intelligence update.

“Intense street fighting is ongoing and both sides are likely suffering high numbers of casualties,” the intelligence update said. “Russia is massing fires with its artillery and air capabilities, in an attempt to overwhelm Ukrainian defenses.”

“Since April, Russian medium bombers have likely launched dozens of 1960s era Kh-2 [NATO designation AS-4 Kitchen] air-launched, heavy anti-ship missiles against land targets,” the intelligence update added. “These 5.5 metric ton missiles were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers using a nuclear warhead. When employed in a ground attack role with a conventional warhead they are highly inaccurate and can therefore cause significant collateral damage and civilian casualties.”

According to the British ministry, “Russia is likely resorting to such inefficient weapon systems because it is running short of more precise modern missiles.”

Meanwhile, the deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Vadym Skibitsky. told The Guardian that Russia has become reliant on weapons from the West to fend off Russian advances on the frontlines since it has less ammunition.

Advertisement

“This is an artillery war now,” Skibitsky said. “Everything now depends on what [the West] gives us … Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our western partners have given us about 10% of what they have.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also recently reiterated a call for weapons and praised Britain for its support.

“Words turn into actions. That’s the difference between Ukraine’s relationship with Great Britain and other countries,” Zelensky said in a video statement. “Weapons, finance, sanctions — on these three issues, Britain shows leadership.”

Officials have said Ukrainian military casualties are as high as 200 a day.

A senior adviser to Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, said Thursday that Ukrainian military casualties had risen to between 100 and 200 each day.

Zelensky said last week that the war was killing 60 to 100 soldiers a day.

In Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, Ukraine has marked some success. Regional Gov. Oleh Synyehubov said Russia has failed to advance there despite heavy shelling.

To the south in Mariupol, Donestk region, the death toll of children has climbed following shelling during a months-long siege of the southern port city.

Advertisement

Ukraine’s Prosecutor’s General’s Office said in a Telegram post on Saturday that an additional 24 children died in Mairupol “as a result of indiscriminate shelling by the Russian military,” bringing the death toll of minors in the war to 287.

The Telegram post added that more than 492 children have been injured in the war.

The post noted that the figures were not complete since some figures are still pending verification in other places of active fighting.

Since the Russia-Ukraine war began on Feb. 24, 4,339 civilians have been killed and 5,246 have been injured, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights update on Friday. The update notes that actual civilian casualties may be considerably higher due to delayed reports and many reports still pending corroboration.

A woman eats food given to her by volunteers at a food delivery station run by a Hare Krishna group in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 20, 2022. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo