‘It’s just hell there’: Russia intensifies pounding of eastern Ukraine

20 June 2022, 14:54

A couple walk past a building destroyed by attacks in Chernihiv, Ukraine
Russia Ukraine War. Picture: PA

Russian shelling and air strikes on the industrial outskirts of Sievierodonetsk have intensified, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said.

Russia’s military has kept on grinding down Ukraine’s defences, with combat in eastern areas said to be entering a “decisive” phase, as the war’s consequences for food and fuel supplies increasingly weighed on minds around the globe.

In Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, which in recent weeks has become the focal point of Moscow’s attempt to impose its will on its neighbour, battles raged for the control of multiple villages, the local governor said.

Ukrainian deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said the Kremlin had ordered the Russian military to overrun the entire Luhansk region by next Sunday.

Currently, Moscow’s forces control about 95% of the region.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
(PA Graphics)

Ms Maliar said in televised remarks that “without exaggeration, decisive battles are taking place” in the area, where Ukrainian forces are desperately trying to avoid being encircled.

“We must understand that the enemy has an advantage both in terms of personnel and weapons, so the situation is extremely difficult. And at this very minute these decisive battles are ongoing at the maximum intensity,” she added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated his plea for more western weapons to fend off the Russian onslaught.

“We need your support, we need weaponry, weapons that will have better capabilities than the Russian weapons,” he told a forum in Milan that was organised by the ISPI geopolitical think tank.

He spoke by video link.

Mr Zelensky added: “This is a matter of life or death.”

The villages where combat is fierce are around Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, two cities in the Luhansk region yet to be captured by the Russians, according to Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via video at the Global Policy Forum meeting at the Bocconi University in Milan, Italy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via video at the Global Policy Forum meeting at the Bocconi University in Milan, Italy (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

Russian shelling and air strikes on the industrial outskirts of Sievierodonetsk have intensified, he said.

Mr Haidai told the Associated Press on Monday that the situation in Sievierodonetsk was “very difficult”, with the Ukrainian forces maintaining control over just one area – the Azot chemical plant, where a number of Ukrainian fighters, along with about 500 civilians, are taking shelter.

The Russians keep deploying additional troops and equipment in the area, he said.

“It’s just hell there. Everything is engulfed in fire, the shelling doesn’t stop even for an hour,” Mr Haidai said in written comments.

Only a fraction of 100,000 people who used to live in Sievierodonetsk before the war remain in the city, with no electricity, communications, food or medicine.

Even so, Mr Haidai said, the staunch Ukrainian resistance is preventing Moscow from deploying its resources to other parts of the country.

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) noted that the war is not going all Russia’s way, despite its superior military assets.

Russian ground troops are “exhausted”, the MoD said in an intelligence report on Monday.

It blamed poor air support for Russia’s difficulty in making swifter progress on the ground.

Across the world, drivers are rethinking their habits and personal finances amid surging prices for petrol and diesel, fuelled by Russia’s war in Ukraine as well as the global rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Energy prices are a key driver of inflation that is rising worldwide and making the cost of living more expensive.

The European Union’s top diplomats gathered in Luxembourg on Monday for talks focused on Ukraine and food security.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called on Russia to lift its blockades of Ukrainian ports to help deliver the millions of tons of grain waiting to be exported.

“I hope – more than hope, I am sure – that the United Nations will at the end reach an agreement,” Mr Borrell said.

“It is unconceivable, one cannot imagine that millions of tons of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine, while in the rest of the world people are suffering (from) hunger. This is a real war crime … You cannot use the hunger of people as a weapon of war.”

Financial help for children displaced by the war in Ukraine was due to come from an unlikely quarter later on Monday, when Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov looked to auction off his Nobel Peace Prize medal in New York.

Mr Muratov was awarded the gold medal in October 2021.

He helped found the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and was the publication’s editor-in-chief when it shut down in March amid the Kremlin’s clampdown on journalists and public dissent in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Muratov had already announced he was donating to charity the 500,000 dollar (£410,000) cash award that came with the prize.

Hanna Sylivon, 76, stands outside her house destroyed by attacks in Chernihiv, Ukraine
Hanna Sylivon, 76, stands outside her house destroyed by attacks in Chernihiv, Ukraine (Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

The proceeds will go directly to Unicef in its efforts to help children displaced by the war in Ukraine.

In other developments on Monday:

– A Russian governor said Ukrainian shelling of a Russian village near the border with Ukraine wounded one person. A power station was hit, leaving parts of the village without electricity, according to Alexander Bogomaz, governor of the Bryansk region.

– The Russian military said it hit an airfield in Ukraine’s southern Odesa region with a missile, destroying two Bayraktar drones and a drone control station. Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said a high-precision Oniks missile hit an Artsyz airfield in the Odesa region. Earlier on Monday, the Ukrainian military said its air defence system deterred two air strikes in the Odesa region, destroying the incoming missiles. The contradicting reports could not be immediately reconciled.

– The head of the Russia-backed authorities in the Crimean Peninsula, annexed from Ukraine in 2014, said that Ukrainian forces had struck three platforms operating in a Black Sea gas field. Sergei Aksyonov told Russian TV that 12 people had been on the platform which was hardest hit. Five of them were rescued with injuries and the others were missing. He added that there were no confirmed cases of people being killed or injured on the other two platforms, and that Crimea would not face energy shortages.

– The death toll has risen to three following a Russian strike on an oil storage facility on Saturday, according to Ukrainian regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko. He said on Monday that emergency crews were still trying to extinguish the flames at the facility in the Dnipropetrovsk region, about 200 miles south-east of Kyiv.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Migrants at Spanish border

Death toll from ‘stampede’ at Spanish border in Morocco climbs to 23

A boy holds his pet dog as his family evacuated from the war-hit area gets on an evacuation train in Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, June 25, 2022

Russia edges closer to swallowing up Ukraine’s last remaining Luhansk stronghold

US Rep Mary Miller, of Illinois, speaks as former President Donald Trump stands behind her on stage at a rally at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Mendon on Saturday

Congresswoman calls removal of abortion rights a ‘victory for white life’

Russia Ukraine War

Russia pushes to block second city in eastern Ukraine

President Joe Biden waves to the media as he walks to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland

Biden arrives in Europe ahead of G7 and Nato summits

Chicago police at the scene where a five-month-old girl was shot and killed in the South Shore neighbourhood of Chicago

Five-month-old girl shot dead in car in Chicago

Tourists fill plastic bottles with water from a public fountain at the Sforzesco Castle in Milan, Italy

Milan to turn off fountains as drought hits Italy

A photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell

Seven accusers write to Ghislaine Maxwell’s sentencing judge

Vitali Klitschko

European mayors duped into calls with impostor posing as Kyiv’s Vitali Klitschko

People lay flowers at the scene of a shooting in central Oslo, Norway

Gunman kills two during Oslo Pride festival

Activists from Oxfam wear giant heads depicting G7 leaders during a demonstration in Munich, Germany

Protesters gather as G7 leaders set to arrive in Germany

The Brit fell from the Devil's Pass in northern Spain

Brit, 25, falls to his death climbing over Spain's notorious 'Devil's Pass'

Joe Biden

Biden declares ‘lives will be saved’ as he signs landmark gun legislation

Police gather at the site of a shooting in Oslo (Javad Parsa/NTB via AP)

Suspected terror-linked shooting in Oslo kills two and wounds 10

Two people were killed in a shooting in Oslo

Man charged with terrorist acts after mass shooting outside Oslo gay bar

Protests have taken place cross the US

Protests erupt as abortion clinics close across US after Roe v Wade overthrown