Russia takes most of the eastern Ukrainian city
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Russia takes most of the eastern Ukrainian city

Ukrainian troops have retreated to the outskirts of the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk in the face of a fierce Russian attack, the regional governor said, in another high-speed battle in one of the war’s bloodiest battles.

Russia takes most of the eastern Ukrainian city

In recent weeks, Russia has concentrated its troops and firepower on the small eastern city to secure the surrounding province on behalf of separatist proxies.

Ukraine has vowed to fight there for as long as possible, saying the battle could help determine the future course of the war.

After announcing a surprise counter-attack last week, the governor of the surrounding Luhansk region said most of the city was back in Russian hands on Wednesday afternoon.

“…Our (troops) are now only in control of the city’s outskirts. But the fighting continues,” Serhiy Gaidai told the RBC-Ukraine media outlet.

Ukrainian forces still controlled the smaller sister city of Lysychansk on the western bank of the Siverskyi Donets River. Still, Russian troops caused massive destruction of residential buildings there, he said in an online post.

Russian troops have 10 times more equipment than Ukrainian troops in some areas of Sievierodonetsk, said Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, Ukraine’s defense ministry spokesman.

Ukraine has urged its allies to speed up arms supplies, saying the situation would become very difficult for the country if Russia broke through its lines in the east.

“The road to peace is through heavy weapons,” Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolyak said on Twitter, reiterating that the war could spread to the European Union if Russia was not defeated in Ukraine.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the situation on the ground in Sieverodonetsk.

Russia says it is engaged in a “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify” its neighbor.

Ukraine and its allies say Russia has launched an unprovoked war of aggression, killing thousands of civilians and bulldozing cities.

United Nations figures show that more than seven million people have crossed the border from Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24.

The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said two people have been killed in the Luhansk region and four in the Kharkiv region in the past 24 hours, while others were injured.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, residents cleared debris from the previous day’s shelling.

Ukraine pushed back Russian troops from the city’s outskirts last month, but Russia sporadically attacked it.

CCTV footage showed late Tuesday when a suspected rocket hit a shopping center with a supermarket and scattered debris and goods.

Footage filmed with a drone showed a gaping hole in the roof of the large building.

“The mainstays have been completely destroyed,” said supermarket manager Svitlana Diulina, adding that no one was injured in the attack.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and the country’s allies accuse Russia of creating a risk of global famine by blocking Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Russia says foreign sanctions are responsible for food shortages.

Turkey has attempted to negotiate the opening of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and said a United Nations-backed deal on the ports is possible with further talks.

Lavrov said Ukraine’s ports could be opened, but Ukraine must first mine them.

Ukraine dismissed Russia’s pledges as “empty words” and said Russian attacks on farmland and farmland in the south exacerbated the crisis.

Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, where Russian shelling this weekend destroyed the warehouses of one of Ukraine’s largest agricultural goods terminals, told Reuters that Russia was trying to scare the world into complying with its terms.

The Kremlin previously quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin saying sanctions must be lifted to allow Russian grain to enter the market.