Artillery price

Ukrainian defenders hold out in Donbass despite artillery barrage


Ukrainian forces resist a Russian assault on Sievierodonetsk, the largest city they still hold in the eastern Donbass region, but resist heavy artillery barrages.

Sunday’s shelling was so intense that it was not possible to assess casualties and damage, Lugansk region governor Serhiy Gaidai said. Dozens of buildings have been destroyed in recent days.

“The situation has gotten extremely worse,” Mr Gaidai said.

The Ukrainian government, meanwhile, has urged the West to provide it with more longer-range weapons to turn the tide of the war, which is now in its fourth month.

The Battle of Sievierodonetsk, which lies on the eastern side of the Siverskyi Donets River, has become the center of attention as Russia slowly but steadily gains in the Donbass, comprising the Lugansk and Donetsk regions.

Russia concentrated enormous firepower in a small area, unlike previous phases of the conflict where its forces were often too spread out.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington said the Russians had still failed to encircle the city and that the Ukrainian defenders had inflicted “frightening casualties” on them.

But the Ukrainians were also suffering heavy casualties, both civilians and combatants, they said in a briefing document.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is inflicting untold suffering on Ukrainians and demanding horrific sacrifices from his own people in an effort to take over a city that does not deserve the price, even for him,” they said.

Russia’s fixation on Sievierodonetsk had drawn resources from other battlefronts. As a result, they had made little progress elsewhere.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine that aimed to take over and occupy the whole country has become a desperate and bloody offensive to capture a single city in the east while defending important but limited gains in the south and the east. is,” they said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the military situation in Donbass – parts of which are controlled by Moscow-backed separatists – was complicated but defenses held firm in many places, including Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.

“It’s indescribably difficult there. And I am grateful to everyone who stood up to this onslaught,” he said in his nightly video address.

Mr Zelensky also expressed hope that Ukraine’s allies would provide much-needed weapons and he expected “good news” in the coming days.

Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, its defense minister said on Saturday.

Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak repeated a call for US-made long-range multiple rocket launchers. U.S. officials told Reuters such systems are being actively considered, with a decision possible in the coming days.

“It’s hard to fight when you’re attacked from 70km away and you have nothing to fight back,” Mr Podolyak said on Twitter.

“We need effective weapons.”

Mr Zelensky said in a television interview that he believed Russia would agree to talks if Ukraine could regain all the territory it has lost since Putin launched an invasion on February 24.

Yet Mr Zelensky has ruled out the idea of ​​using force to win back all the territory Ukraine has lost to Russia since 2014, which includes the southern Crimean peninsula, annexed by Moscow that year. .

“I don’t believe that we can restore all of our territory by military means. If we decide to go down this path, we will lose hundreds of thousands of people,” he said.

Russia says it is conducting a “special military operation” to demilitarize Ukraine and rid it of nationalists who threaten Russian speakers. Ukraine and Western countries say that Russia’s claims are a false pretext for a war of aggression.

Thousands of people, many of them civilians, have been killed and several million have fled their homes, either to safer parts of Ukraine or to other countries.