- Ukraine says it is taking back lands in Severodonetsk
- Putin blames the West for high grain prices
- Ukrainian official says Putin is still seeking to subjugate the country
- The United Nations and Russia discuss Ukraine’s grain exports
Severodonetsk, Ukraine, June 4 (Reuters) – Ukraine said it has retaken part of a factory in the city of Severodonetsk, the focus of a Russian offensive to take control of the eastern Donbass region, and could continue for up to two weeks as fighting intensifies. Saturday.
Sergei Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk province, told national television on Friday that Ukrainian forces had regained 20% of the land they lost in Severodonetsk.
He said it was “not realistic” that the city would fall in the next two weeks despite the deployment of Russian reinforcements.
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“As soon as we have enough long-range Western weapons, we will push their artillery away from our positions. And then, believe me, the Russian infantry, they will run,” Gaidai said.
It was not immediately possible to verify his claim about the Ukrainian advances. Reuters reached Severodonetsk on Thursday and was able to verify that the Ukrainians still controlled part of the city.
Ukraine’s military said on Saturday that Russia had reinforced its forces and used artillery to launch “offensive operations” in the city.
It added that the Russian forces retreated after unsuccessful attempts to advance in the nearby town of Bakhmut and cut off access to Severodonetsk.
The war in Ukraine celebrated its 100th anniversary on Friday. Tens of thousands have died, millions have been uprooted and the global economy has been disrupted since Russian forces were expelled from Kyiv in the first weeks of the conflict.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied Moscow had banned Ukrainian ports from exporting grain, blaming the West for high global food prices.
“Now we are witnessing attempts to transfer responsibility for what is happening in the world food market and the problems arising in this market to Russia,” he said on national television.
He said the best solution would be to lift Western sanctions on Russia’s ally Belarus and for Ukraine to export grain through that country. Read more
Ukrainian officials rely on the advanced missile systems that the United States and Britain recently pledged to fuel the war in their favour, and Ukrainian forces have already begun training on them. Read more
While the Ukrainian resistance forced Putin to narrow his immediate goal of invading the entire Donbass region, Ukrainian officials said he remained intent on subjugating the entire country.
“Putin’s main goal is the destruction of Ukraine. He does not retreat from his goals despite the fact that Ukraine won the first stage of this all-out war,” Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar told national television on Friday.
A Russian government spokesman said “certain results have been achieved” in the war and Moscow will continue its military operations until all goals are achieved.
Reuters reporters were injured
Two Reuters journalists were wounded and a driver was killed on Friday after their car came under fire as they tried to reach Severodonetsk from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists. Read more
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.
The governor of neighboring Donetsk province told Reuters that Russian forces were only 15 km outside the city of Sloviansk.
Kirilenko said Donetsk would not fall quickly but needed more weapons to keep the attackers at bay. Read more
Moscow says Western weapons will “fuel the fire” but will not change the course of what it calls a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of dangerous nationalists.
Russia controls about a fifth of the country, half of that area was expropriated in 2014 and the rest seized since its invasion began on February 24.
For both sides, Russia’s massive offensive 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.
Moscow made slow but steady progress, squeezing Ukrainian forces into an enclave in Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, but failing to encircle them.
Kyiv hopes the Russian advance will drain Moscow’s forces enough to retake the territory in the coming months.
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 cut off by the closure of its Black Sea ports, with more than 20 million tons of grain stuck in silos.
UN aid coordinator Martin Griffiths on Friday concluded two days of “frank and constructive discussions” with Russian officials in Moscow on facilitating Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports, a UN spokesman said. Read more
The talks come as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tries to broker what he calls a “comprehensive deal” to restart Ukrainian food exports and Russian food and fertilizer exports.
Kyiv and its allies blame Moscow for blocking the ports from which Ukraine mined to prevent a Russian amphibious assault. Putin blames Western sanctions.
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Reporting by a Reuters journalist in Severodonetsk, Natalia Zinets, Pavel Politiuk, Max Hunder and Conor Humphreys in Kyiv and Reuters offices; Writing by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Raju Gopalakrishnan
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.