Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk they said this friday who took the town of Limána key city in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow is gaining ground after more than three months of offensive.
(Read here: Ukraine: Zelensky accuses Russia of ‘genocide’ in the Donbas region)
In its Telegram account, the General Staff of the pro-Russian Donetsk separatist militia indicated that it “took full control” of Limán, with the support of the military units of the separatist Lugansk region and the Moscow armed forces.
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At the moment, the Russian military has not released any information and AFP was unable to independently verify this report.
After failing in his attempt to take kyiv and Kharkov, Moscow focuses its efforts on completely conquering Donbasa mining basin comprising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
(See also: WHO approves resolution condemning Russia for invading Ukraine)
Liman is a major rail hub northeast of Slaviansk, briefly seized by pro-Russian separatists in 2014, and Kramatorsk, the capital of the Donetsk region, which is under Ukrainian control.
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky accused Russia of committing “genocide” in Donbas
The conquest of Limán would allow the Russian troops to clear the last obstacle to advance towards Sláviansk and Kramatorsk, in a maneuver to surround Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, further to the east.
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky accused Russia of committing “genocide” in Donbasin the east of the country, where the city of Severodonetsk is under a deluge of bombs.
“The current offensive by the occupiers in Donbas could leave the region uninhabited,” Zelensky said, Thursday to Friday night, in his daily television speech, in which he accused Russia of wanting to “reduce to ashes” several cities in the region.
Russia exercises “deportation” and “mass killings of civilians” in Donbas, he insisted. “All this … is a clear policy of genocide,” she added.
When launching its invasion on February 24, Moscow used, among other reasons, an alleged “genocide” against the Russian-speaking population of Donbas, the scene of a war between kyiv and pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
In April, the word “genocide” was already used against Russia by the Ukrainian Parliament or by international leaders such as the American Joe Biden or the British Boris Johnson, although others such as the French Emmanuel Macron or the German Olaf Scholz avoided it.
The Russian army is also shelling Severodonetsk, whose governor has warned it could suffer the same fate as Mariupol, a major southeastern port devastated after weeks of siege.
At least five civilians have been killed in 24 hours in the region: four in Severodonetsk and one in Komychuvakha, 50 kilometers away, Governor Sergei Gaidai said on Friday.
The Russians constantly bomb residential areas
“The inhabitants of Severodonetsk have forgotten what a half-hour ceasefire is”Gaidai wrote on Telegram. “The Russians constantly bomb residential areas,” she said.
“We think that Russian forces have been able to take most of northeast Severodonetsk, although there is still fighting going on,” a senior US Defense Department official said.
The head of the Severodonetsk civil and military administration, Alexander Striuk, said there were still between 12,000 and 13,000 people in the city, which had 100,000 inhabitants before the war.
“60% of Severodonetsk’s housing stock has been destroyed. 85-90% of the city’s buildings have been damaged and will need major restoration,” he was quoted as saying by Ukrainian media.
In Dnipro, an industrial city in central-eastern Ukraine, a person in charge announced on Friday “a dozen” dead and about 30 wounded in a Russian bombardment against a military field.
Bombings in Kharkiv
Further north, in Kharkov, air-raid sirens went off again early Friday. The day before, a bombardment left nine dead and 19 wounded, including a five-month-old baby and her father, President Zelensky said.
The missiles fell in a residential sector of the Pavlové Polé neighborhood, according to an AFP journalist, who saw a dead young man and four wounded taken to hospital, one of them without a leg and an arm.
Now they use cheap tools like weapons. They are turning food into a weapon
Russia had abandoned its offensive on this city to concentrate its troops in the east and south of Ukraine and its population was trying a difficult return to normality, resuming the metro service.
But Moscow forces still hold positions east of Kharkov, while the Ukrainians dig trenches around the city and set up concrete blocks, sandbags and checkpoints against a possible new assault.
Ukraine again asked Western countries for more weapons. “Some partners avoid giving the necessary weapons for fear of escalation. Escalation, really? Russia is already using the heaviest non-nuclear weapons, it is burning people alive. Maybe it is time (…) to give us MLRS (rocket launchers). multiple),” tweeted Mikhailo Podoliak, adviser to the Ukrainian presidency.
The Kremlin, which analysts say wants to consolidate its gains in southern and eastern Ukraine before any negotiated solution, on Thursday rejected an Italian peace plan.
The proposal provided for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops under UN supervision, Ukraine’s entry into the EU but not NATO and a statute of autonomy for Donbas and Crimea under Ukrainian sovereignty.
The war between Ukraine and Russia, major grain exporters and responsible for a 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 blockaded, with thousands of tons of grain piling up in warehouses.
According to the next American military official in Europe, General Chris Cavoli, Germany proposed to deploy a “rail bridge” with Ukraine to transport this merchandise.
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to help “overcome the food crisis” that threatens the world due to this conflict in exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions against Moscow.
The United States rejected the offer: “Now they use economic tools as weapons. They are turning food into a weapon,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
Russia aims to export 50 million tons of grain in the coming season, which is a sharp increase from the current year.
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