Severodonetsk close to fall, Ukraine awaits new US weapons

Ukrainian forces appeared close to surrender in Severodonetsk, a strategic city in the Donbass, on Wednesday, and they witnessed the advance of the Russian army in the east of the country, where Ukrainians relied on “more advanced missile systems” announced by Washington to overthrow. fashion.

Serguii Gaïdaï, the governor of this region of the Donbass basin, said on the Telegram channel on Wednesday that after 98 days of fighting, Russian forces “currently control 70% of Severodonetsk”.

He seemed to be preparing for this, although he added that they did not “completely occupy” this industrial city: “If in two or three days the Russians take control of Severodonetsk, they will gather artillery and mortars there and bombard Lyssytchansk more intensively. “, Severodonetsk by the Donets river. The neighboring city, which leaves from , is more difficult to get to, as it is “located on high” according to him.

Severodonetsk has been the administrative capital of the Lugansk region for Ukrainian authorities since the city of Lugansk was captured by pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow in 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday evening that the Russian military’s “indiscriminate” attacks on this city, especially a large chemical plant, were “indiscriminate”. But on the 97th day of such a war, for the Russian army, for the Russian commanders, It is not surprising that any madness is absolutely acceptable to Russian soldiers,” he added.

Donetsk, the other part of Donbass, is also under Russian fire.

AFP journalists saw three people killed and six injured in buildings destroyed by missiles in Sloviansk, about 80km west of Severodonetsk, on Tuesday. On Wednesday, a cluster munition missile attack in Soledar, a town equidistant from Sloviansk and Severodonetsk, left at least one dead and two injured, AFP said.

According to Ganna Malyar, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister, Moscow wants to “complicate the situation by encircling the Ukrainian troops and then blackmailing us with these besieged troops, who can often be called a ‘cauldron'”.

“So far they have not been successful as the Ukrainian army is resisting with great force,” he said on YouTube Wednesday, acknowledging that Russian forces “have an advantage in terms of equipment, weapons and manpower”.

According to analysts, if the Russians manage to complete the encirclement of the Severodonetsk-Lyssychansk agglomeration, they can engage with Russian forces further west and launch an attack on Ukraine’s other administrative capital, Donbass Kramatorsk.

Moscow set itself the goal of taking control of the entire Donbass.

More powerful rocket launchers

In this regard, Ukrainian forces are looking forward to the delivery of new, more powerful missile launch systems promised by the United States.

“Everybody’s morale rises when you know you have heavy weapons behind you,” a soldier close to the front told AFP on Monday, simply giving the nickname “Luzhnii”.

US President Joe Biden wrote in the New York Times on Tuesday that his country will “provide the Ukrainians with more advanced missile systems and ammunition that will enable them to more accurately hit key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

According to a senior White House official, these are Himars systems (High-Motion Artillery Rocket System), multiple rocket launchers mounted on lightly armored vehicles with a range of about 80 kilometers. No delivery date was specified.

This equipment is part of a new, broader component of a total of $700 million in US military aid, details of which will be released Wednesday.

Some experts believe that the Himars could change the balance of military power on the ground.

U.S. President Joe Biden, concerned about the United States being viewed as a joint fighter, stressed that it still “does not promote” Russia’s territory and “does not give Ukraine the necessary tools to attack”.

Declaring on March 26 that Russian President Vladimir Putin “should not stay in power”, he stressed that the United States would “not try to cause him to be overthrown” even if his actions were “scandalous”.

Unblock Ukraine ports

Another priority for Westerners is to remove obstacles to Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, especially the large port of Odessa.

At least 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain stored in silos are currently not exportable due to the Russian blockade, raising the risk of a global food crisis.

According to his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to discuss the creation of “safe corridors” for the transport of these grains during his visit to Turkey on 8 June. Even if Lavrov imposes this blockade on the West, which cuts the “logistical and financial chains” with its sanctions on Moscow.

“They need to decide whether they want to take on the issue of food safety or solve this problem with concrete measures: the ball is in their court,” Bahrain said on Tuesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Vladimir Putin on Saturday that he had proposed to vote a resolution at the UN for lifting the blockade of Odessa.

“The decision depends on an agreement with Russia and the guarantees it will provide: in the face of demining (of the port of Odessa), which is necessary for bulk carriers and ships to be able to transport and receive these grains, (required)” Macron said on Tuesday, “the security provided to the Ukrainians so that they are not attacked.” guarantees,” he said.

Football for Hope

After forcing Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to have other geostrategic implications: The Danes are voting after they refused to do so in Wednesday’s referendum on their country’s entry into the European Union’s defense policy. for three years.

The latest poll, released on Sunday, shows that more than 65% of voting intentions are “yes”. However, in a country that voted “nej” (no) to the European referendums, the last of which was held in 2015, uncertainty remains due to the high anticipated abstention.

The formerly marginal European defense policy has been strengthened in recent years, although the ideas of a European army are still a stumbling block for many capitals.

Results are expected to be announced on Wednesday at around 23:00 local time (2100 GMT).

In Ukraine, first of all, the football team is expected to play against Scotland in the 2022 World Cup qualifying match, this match for 90 minutes that will give them an escape from the daily life of war.

“I hope for a victory,” Andriy Veres told AFP. “It’s very important right now for the country, for everyone, for those who are football fans, but even for those who are not.”

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