Smoke rises in the city of Severodonetsk during heavy fightings between Ukrainian and Russian troops in Donbas. AFP
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of “madness” Tuesday after Russian troops hit a chemical plant in their bid to complete the capture of a key eastern city.
The battle for control of Severodonetsk has been intensifying this week, with heavy casualties on both sides, as EU leaders haggle over banning Russian gas to punish the Kremlin for its three-month-old invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.
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One of the industrial hubs on Russia’s path to taking the eastern Lugansk region, Severodonetsk has become a target of massive Russian firepower since the failed attempt to occupy Kyiv.
Russians now control most of the destroyed city, regional authorities said Tuesday, adding that enemy forces had hit a nitric acid tank at a chemical plant and warning people to stay indoors.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks in Kyiv. File photo
“Given the presence of large-scale chemical production in Severodonetsk, the Russian army’s strikes there, including blind air bombing, are just crazy,” Zelensky said in a video message.
“But on the 97th day of such a war, it is no longer surprising that for the Russian military, for Russian commanders, for Russian soldiers, any madness is absolutely acceptable.”
Meanwhile, in Brussels European Union leaders were split over banning gas from Moscow after agreeing to embargo two-thirds of its oil to tighten the economic screws.
A man walks near the remains of a missile in the city of Lysychansk, in the eastern region of Donbas. AFP
These nations played down the chances of a rapid gas ban to follow, but Zelensky nevertheless expressed his gratitude for EU action taken so far against “the terrorist state” of Russia.
“It is also important to understand that European countries’ abandonment of Russian oil and other fossil fuels will accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources,” he said.
“Strategically, this leaves the Russian state on the sidelines of the modern economy. With such an aggressive policy and a course of isolation from the civilized world, Russia simply will not be able to adapt.”