Russia conducts all-out attack to encircle Ukraine’s army in the east

On Tuesday (local time), Russian soldiers launched an all-out attack to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities straddling a river in eastern Ukraine, a struggle that might determine whether Moscow’s primary push in the east succeeds or fails.

Authorities in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, reopened the subterranean metro three months after President Vladimir Putin sent Russian military into the country. Thousands of citizens had been sheltering for months under unrelenting shelling.

The move demonstrated Ukraine’s biggest military victory in recent weeks: moving Russian forces out of artillery range of Kharkiv, just as they did from Kyiv in March.

However, the war’s most important engagements are still going further south, where Moscow is aiming to conquer the Donbas region comprising two eastern provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front.

The city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets river and its twin Lysychansk on the west bank have become the critical battlefield in the easternmost area of the Ukrainian-held Donbas pocket, with Russian forces moving from three directions to encircle them.

“The enemy has concentrated its efforts on launching an offensive to encircle Lysychansk. And Sievierodonetsk”. Said Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk province, where the two cities are among Ukraine’s final holdings.

“The intensity of fire on Sievierodonetsk has increased by multiple times. They are simply destroying the city”. He said on TV, adding there were about 15,000 people living there.

Air raid sirens sounded further west in Slovyansk, one of the largest Donbas cities still in Ukrainian control, but streets were nonetheless lively on Tuesday, with a market full of people, children riding bikes, and a street musician playing violin near a store.

According to Gaidai, Ukrainian forces drove the Russians out of Toshkivka, a settlement south of Sievierodonetsk. Separatists backed by Russia claimed possession of Svitlodarsk, south of Bakhmut. Neither report could be verified independently.

‘EVERYONE IS TERRIFIED TO DEATH’

Three months into a war that some Western analysts believed would be over in days. Moscow has made only minor gains in exchange for its heaviest military casualties in decades. While much of Ukraine has been destroyed. Approximately 6.5 million people have fled to other countries. Untold thousands have been slain, and cities have been reduced to ruins.

The conflict has had far-reaching worldwide consequences. Including worsening food shortages and rising costs in underdeveloped countries that import Ukrainian grain.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s chief, called for talks with Moscow on Tuesday to free wheat exports stranded in Ukraine due to a Russian embargo in the Black Sea.

Japan, a key US ally in Asia that has joined Western sanctions against Russia, scrambled jets on Tuesday as Russian and Chinese warplanes approached its airspace during US President Joe Biden’s visit to Tokyo, underscoring the war’s global geopolitical sensitivities.

Hundreds of people were still living underground in trains. And stations in Kharkiv on Tuesday when officials asked them to make way so metro service could restart.

A few individuals were moving out of one station. While others sat on makeshift mattresses or stood among their belongings and pets.

“Everyone is terrified because there is continuous shelling and rocket fire”. Said Nataliia Lopanska, who had spent practically the whole fight underground in a metro train.

 

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