Russia launches new assault on eastern Ukraine towns

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Smoke and dirt ascends after a strike at a factory in the city of Soledar in Donbas region on Tuesday. AFP

Russian forces launched offensives on towns in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, with constant mortar bombardment destroying several houses and killing civilians, Ukrainian officials said, as Russia focuses its attack on the industrial Donbas region.

After failing to seize Kyiv or Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, Russia is trying to take the rest of the separatist-claimed Donbas’ two provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front.


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In the easternmost part of the Ukrainian-held Donbas pocket, the city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets River and its twin Lysychansk, on the west bank, have become a pivotal battlefield. Russian forces were advancing from three directions to encircle them.

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said the Russians launched an offensive on Sievierodonetsk early on Wednesday and the town was under constant fire from mortars.

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A crater is pictured in front of a destroyed super market after a strike in Donbas on Tuesday. AFP

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said six civilians were killed and at least eight wounded, most near bomb shelters, in Sievierodonetsk.

“At the moment, with the support of artillery, the Russian occupiers are attacking Sievierodonetsk,” Gaidai said.

Ukraine’s military said it had repelled nine Russian attacks on Tuesday in the Donbas where Moscow’s troops had killed at least 14 civilians, using aircraft, rocket launchers, artillery, tanks, mortars and missiles.

Reuters could not immediately verify information about the fighting.

In the town of Sloviansk west of Donbas, many residents took advantage of what Ukraine said was a break in the Russian assault to leave. “My house was bombed, I have nothing,” said Vera Safronova, seated in a train carriage among the evacuees.

Reuters

 

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