- Ukraine says Russia is carrying out large-scale bombing
- A chemical factory was bombed, where civilians were trapped
- Ukrainian forces withdraw from Severodonetsk
- Dozens of missiles hit Ukrainian military bases
Kyiv (Reuters) – Russian missiles fell on Ukraine on Saturday, hitting military facilities in the west and north as well as a southern city in Europe’s biggest land conflict since World War Two entered its fifth month.
Russian air and artillery strikes bombed the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysechansk in the eastern Luhansk region on Friday, a Ukrainian official said, hitting a chemical factory where hundreds of civilians were trapped.
Ukraine said on Friday its forces had been ordered to withdraw from Severodonetsk with little left to defend after weeks of fierce fighting, in the biggest reversal for Ukraine since the loss of the port of Mariupol in May.
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News of the withdrawal came four months ago since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent tens of thousands of troops across the border, sparking a conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and disrupted the global economy.
“48 cruise missiles. At night. Across Ukraine,” an advisor to Ukrainian President Mikhailo Podolek said on Twitter. Russia is still trying to intimidate Ukraine, create panic and make people afraid.”
Recent Russian developments seem to have brought Moscow closer to full control of Luhansk, one of Putin’s goals, and are paving the way for Lyschansk to become the next major focus.
It will take another week and a half to secure full control of Lyschansk, Vitaly Kiselev, an official with the Interior Ministry of the breakaway Luhansk People’s Republic – recognized only by Russia – told the Russian TASS news agency.
Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, said that Russian forces attacked the industrial district of Severodonetsk, and also tried to enter and besiege Lysechansk on Saturday.
“There was an air raid on Lysychansk. Sievierodonetsk was bombed,” Gaidai said on the messaging app Telegram, adding that the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk and the villages of Synetsky, Pavlograd and others were bombed.
He did not mention casualties at the nitrogen plant, and Reuters could not immediately verify the information. Gidai said police officers, rescuers and volunteers had evacuated 17 people on Friday from Lyschansk.
Kharatin Starsky, the press officer of the Ukrainian National Guard Brigade, said on TV Saturday that the flow of information about the withdrawal from Severodonetsk has been delayed to protect troops on the ground.
“Over the past (several) days, an operation has been conducted to withdraw our forces,” Starsky said.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what it described as a “special military operation”, but abandoned an early advance in the capital Kyiv in the face of fierce resistance from Ukrainian fighters with the help of Western weapons.
Since then, Moscow and its proxies have focused on the south and the Donbass, an eastern region made up of Luhansk and its neighbor Donetsk, and have deployed crushing artillery. Read more
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday he feared Ukraine could face pressure to agree a peace deal with Russia. Johnson said the consequences of Putin’s path in Ukraine would be dangerous to international security and would be a long-term economic disaster. Read more
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said that Russia fired missiles again on Saturday at military and civilian infrastructure in the north, near Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv, as far as Severodonetsk in the east.
Several regional governors reported bombing of towns across Ukraine on Saturday.
Russia denies targeting civilians. Kyiv and the West say Russian forces have committed war crimes against civilians.
The governor of the Lviv region in western Ukraine, Maxim Kozytsky, said in a video posted on the Internet that six missiles were fired from the Black Sea at the Yavoriv base near the border with Poland. Four hit the target while two were destroyed.
Vitaly Ponchko, governor of the Zhytomyr region in the north of the country, said the strikes on a military target killed at least one soldier.
“Nearly 30 missiles were fired at a military infrastructure facility near the city of Zhytomyr,” Panishko said, adding that nearly 10 missiles were intercepted and destroyed.
In the south, Oleksandr Senkevich, mayor of Mykolaiv near the Black Sea, said five cruise missiles hit the city and adjacent areas on Saturday. The number of victims is indicated.
“Organized Undo Operations”
Ukraine pressed again on Friday for more weapons, with its top general Valery Zaluzhny telling his US counterpart in a phone call that Kyiv needed a “fiery parity” with Moscow to stabilize the situation in Luhansk. Read more
Oleksiy Aristovich, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Ukrainian soldiers also withdrew to the south of Severodonetsk from the towns of Hersk and Zolot in the face of overwhelming Russian forces.
The Ukrainian foreign minister played down the potential loss of more territory in the Donbass.
“Putin wanted to occupy Donbass by May 9. We are (there) on June 24 and we are still fighting. Withdrawing from some battles does not mean losing the war at all,” Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della. Sera.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that Russia likely pulled several generals from key leadership positions in the Ukraine conflict this month.
The war had a tremendous impact on the global economy and European security arrangements, driving up gas, oil and food prices, causing the European Union to reduce its heavy dependence on Russian energy and prompting Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership.
The West imposed an unprecedented package of sanctions on Russia, its major corporations, and its business and political elite in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
In a major sign of support, EU leaders this week approved Ukraine’s formal candidacy to join the bloc – a decision that Russia said on Friday amounted to the EU’s “enslavement” of neighboring countries. Read more
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Reporting by Reuters offices. writing by Michael Berry; Editing by Sam Holmes, Edwina Gibbs and David Clarke
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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