Pro-Russian separatists claim to seize strategic Ukrainian city

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Pro-Russian separatists announced on Friday that they had captured the eastern Ukrainian city of Lyman. In the area considered strategic, Russian troops were gaining ground after more than three months of offensive.

Pro-Russian separatists announced on Friday that they had captured the eastern Ukrainian city of Lyman. In what was considered strategic, Russian troops were gaining ground after more than three months of offensive.

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The General Staff of the pro-Russian separatist militias in Donetsk stated on its Telegram account that with the support of military units from the separatist Luhansk region and the armed forces of Moscow, “gain full control” of Lyman. So far, Moscow has not commented on the success.

Having failed to capture Kyiv and Kharkiv, the Russian army is concentrating its efforts in the Donbass, a mining region that includes the Donetsk and Lugansk regions near the Russian border. Lyman is an important rail hub in northeastern Slaviansk, briefly seized by separatists in 2014, and Kramatorsk, the capital of the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region.

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Capturing Lyman would allow Russian troops to break through the final hurdle to advance on Slaviansk and Kramatorsk. The maneuver would also serve to besiege two other Russian coveted cities, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, further east.

Genocide in Donbass

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday accused Russia of committing “genocide” in the Donbass, where the city of Severodonetsk has been the target of intense shelling. He accused Russia of wanting to “burn to ashes” many other cities in the region.

“The current offensive of the invaders in Donbass could make the region uninhabitable,” Zelensky said in his daily speech this morning. According to him, Russia is carrying out “deportations” and “mass killings of civilians.” All this is a clear policy of genocide,” he said.

This is not the first time this phrase has been used since the war in Ukraine began. To justify the invasion, which began on February 24, Moscow used, among other reasons, an alleged “genocide” of the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass, which has been the scene of a war between Kyiv and pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

The term used by the Ukrainian parliament in April to describe the deaths of tens of hundreds of civilians in Bucha shocked the world. International leaders such as US President Joe Biden or British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have also used the word “genocide” to refer to the massacre.

Severodonetsk may suffer the same fate as Mariupol

Lugansk governor Sergei Gaidai said on Friday that the Russian army also bombed Severodonetsk. He said the city could suffer the same fate as Mariupol, an important southeast port that was devastated after weeks of siege.

At least five civilians were killed in the area within 24 hours: four in Severodonetsk and one in Komychuvakha, 50 kilometers away. In Dnipro, an industrial city in east-central Ukraine, a local official announced Friday that “a dozen” were killed and about 30 wounded in the bombing of a Russian military camp. “The Russians are constantly bombing residential areas,” Gaidai told Telegram.

Alexander Striuk, head of Severodonetsk’s civil and military administration, said the city, which had a population of 100,000 before the war, still has between 12,000 and 13,000 people. “About 60% of Severodonetsk’s housing stock has been destroyed. 85-90% of city buildings are damaged and will need major restoration,” he said.

Ukrainian soldiers continue to resist, but they are losing ground. “We believe that Russian forces have captured most of the northeast of Severodonetsk, but there is still war,” a senior US Department of Defense official said.

New bombings in Kharkov

Further north, air raid sirens sounded again on Friday in Kharkiv. Nine people were killed and 19 injured, including a five-month-old baby and her father, in a bombing the previous day, according to President Zelensky. The missiles landed in a residential area in the Pavlové Polé region.

Russia had abandoned its offensive in this city to concentrate its troops in eastern and southern Ukraine, and its population was trying to make a difficult return to normal by restarting public transport. But Moscow forces focused again on eastern Kharkiv as the Ukrainians dug trenches around the city and set up cinder blocks and checkpoints in case of a further attack.

Ukraine again demanded more weapons from Western countries. “Some partners are refraining from supplying necessary weapons for fear of escalation. Is the tension serious? Russia is already using the heaviest non-nuclear weapons, burning people alive. Maybe it’s time to give us MLRS (…) [lançadores de foguetes múltiplos]”, tweeted Mikhailo Podoliak, adviser to the Ukrainian presidency.

The Kremlin rejected an Italian peace plan on Thursday. Analysts say the Russian government wants to consolidate gains in southern and eastern Ukraine before any negotiated settlement. The proposal also called for a UN-supervised ceasefire and withdrawal of troops, Ukraine’s entry into the European Union, not NATO, and the granting of autonomy status to Donbass and Crimea under Ukrainian sovereignty.

Fear of food shortages

The war between Ukraine and Russia, the main grain exporters responsible for one-third of the world’s wheat production, is affecting the global food market and raising fears of food shortages. The ports of the former Soviet republic are congested and thousands of tons of grain are piled up in warehouses.

According to US General Chris Cavoli, Germany proposed to build a “railway bridge” with Ukraine to transport this goods.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed ending Western sanctions on Moscow to “overcome the food crisis”. The United States rejected the offer. “They’re turning food into weapons,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

(With information from AFP)

source: Noticias

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