Ukrainian city chemical plant ‘surrounded’
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Ukrainian city chemical plant ‘surrounded’

Pro-Russian rebels say they have completely surrounded the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk. This city has been at the center of fighting for weeks in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

“A small group of Ukrainian formations in the territory of the Azot chemical plant can no longer leave the plant. All escape routes have been cut off for them,” the ambassador of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic of Russia, Rodion Miroshnik, wrote on Telegram.

Miroshnik acknowledged that civilians could still take shelter at the besieged Azot site.


The Ukrainian side had recently talked about hundreds of people using the factory basements as air raid shelters.

The situation is reminiscent of what happened in the port city of Mariupol when thousands of residents and Ukrainian fighters took cover in the Azovstal steel mill and were surrounded for weeks before finally surrendering.

Many of those Ukrainian troops are now in Russian captivity.

More than 90 percent of the Luhansk region, where Sievierodonetsk is located, has been occupied by Russia for more than three months after the war.

Ukrainian troops have largely withdrawn from the city’s residential areas but have failed to gain a foothold on the eastern bank of the Siverskiy Donets River.

Both sides say they took huge casualties in the battle for Sievierodonetsk.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Food Agency said chronic hunger could affect up to 19 million more people worldwide in the coming year due to reduced exports of wheat and other food products from Ukraine and Russia.

Inside Ukraine, officials said they were concerned about the spread of deadly cholera and dysentery in Mariupol, where tens of thousands of civilians live in ruins captured by Russian forces last month after a brutal siege.

In a video linked speech to a conference in Copenhagen, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for Ukraine to be accepted as part of the European Union with binding guarantees for its protection.

“The European Union can take a historic step that will prove that words about the Ukrainian people belonging to the European family are not just words,” he said, asking the EU to accept Ukraine as a candidate for membership.

Visiting Ukraine’s western city of Lviv, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Germany would help build trauma centers for the injured by donating prosthetic limbs and deploying doctors as Ukraine “will provide humanitarian assistance urgently needed as… our military support”.

President Vladimir Putin launched his “special military operation” in Ukraine in February, claiming his aim was to disarm and “denazify” Russia’s neighbor.

Ukraine and its allies call it an unprovoked war of aggression to conquer territory.

Ukraine said a speech delivered Thursday by Russian President Vladimir Putin — drawing a parallel between what he portrayed as a new quest to reclaim Russian lands and Tsar Peter the Great’s historic achievements — proved that Russia’s goal of conquest used to be.

“Putin’s confession of land repossessions and proofs comparing himself to Peter the Great: there was no ‘conflict’, just the bloody confiscation of the land under contrived pretexts of genocide,” Zelenskiy aide Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.

with coverage from Reuters