June 25, 2022

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Ukraine says Russian forces are trying to cut off access to Severodonetsk

Ukraine says Russian forces are trying to cut off access to Severodonetsk
  • Ukraine says Russia is pressing hard to seize Severodonetsk
  • The UK says Russian air activity is high over the Donbass region
  • The United Nations is trying to broker a deal for Ukraine’s grain exports

Kyiv (Reuters) – Kyiv said on Saturday that Moscow had reinforced its forces around Severodonetsk and was trying to cut off Ukraine’s access to the industrial city that was the focus of a Russian offensive to seize the eastern Donbass region.

Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk province, said that Russian forces blew up bridges across the Seversky Donets River to prevent Ukraine from bringing in military reinforcements and delivering aid to civilians in Severodonetsk. Read more

“The Russian army, as we understand, is making all its efforts and all its reserves in the direction of (Severodonetsk),” Gidai said in a live television broadcast on Saturday.

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“The Russians are blowing up bridges, so we were not able to bring reinforcements to our sons in Severodonetsk,” he said.

Since its expulsion from the capital Kyiv, Russia has launched a massive offensive against Luhansk and Donetsk, the two provinces that make up the eastern Donbass region.

For both sides, fighting in the east in recent weeks has been one of the bloodiest phases of the war, with Ukraine saying it is losing 60 to 100 soldiers every day.

Ukraine’s military said on Saturday that Russia had used artillery to launch “offensive operations” in Severodonetsk, but that Russian forces have retreated and Ukrainian forces maintain positions inside the city, about 145 kilometers (90 miles) from the Russian border.

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The General Staff of the Ukrainian Army said that Russian soldiers also tried to advance towards Lyschansk, across the Seversky Donets River from Severodonetsk, but were stopped.

Reuters reached Severodonetsk on Thursday and was able to verify that the Ukrainians still controlled part of the city.

The governor of neighboring Donetsk region told Reuters on Friday that Russian forces were only 15 kilometers outside the city of Sloviansk. Read more

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that Russian air activity remained high over Donbass, as Russian aircraft launched strikes using both guided and unguided munitions. Read more

On Saturday morning, a missile fell on an agricultural storage unit, in the Odessa region of southern Ukraine, a spokesman for the regional administration wrote on Telegram, injuring two people.

cut off the grain supply

Tens of thousands have died, millions have been driven from their homes and the global economy has been turbulent in the war that marked its 100th anniversary on Friday.

Ukrainian officials are relying on advanced missile systems recently pledged by the United States and Britain to swing the war in their favour, and Ukrainian forces have already begun training on them. Read more

Moscow said Western weapons would “fuel the fire” but would not change the course of what it called a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of dangerous nationalists.

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The war had a devastating impact on the global economy, especially for poor food-importing countries.

Ukraine is one of the world’s leading sources of grain and cooking oil, but those supplies have been largely cut off by Russia’s closure of its Black Sea ports, with more than 20 million tons of grain stuck in silos.

Kyiv and its allies blame Moscow for blocking the ports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied Moscow had banned Ukrainian ports from exporting grain, blaming the West for high global food prices.

Moscow says the sanctions are also hurting its grain and fertilizer exports, exacerbating shortages.

This week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tried to broker what he calls a “comprehensive deal” to resume Ukrainian food exports and Russian food and fertilizer exports.

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Reporting for Natalia Zenets, Pavel Pollyuk, Max Hunder, and Conor Humphreys in Kyiv, Reuters offices.

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.