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Ukraine says its troops are holding Sievierodonetsk and advancing to the south

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -  Ukraine stated on Thursday that its soldiers were holding their positions in tough action in the eastern...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English -  Ukraine stated on Thursday that its soldiers were holding their positions in tough action in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk and had recaptured area in the south, aiming for wins in the largest swath of territory acquired by Russia since the invasion began.

Russia has centred its invasion force around Sievierodonetsk, a tiny industrial city that has been levelled by aerial bombardment. According to Ukraine, the only way to change the tide and achieve victory is to acquire more artillery to counter Russia's tremendous firepower.

Sievierodonetsk and its twin city Lysychansk, located on the opposite bank of the Siverskyi Donets, are the final Ukrainian-controlled portions of the Luhansk province, which Moscow is intended to conquer as one of its primary war targets.

"They (the Russians) are dying like flies... battle continues fiercely within Sievierodonetsk," stated the governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Gaidai.

Gaidai predicted that the Russians would attempt to cross the Siverskyi Donets river by taking advantage of low water levels. "We are observing, and if something occurs, we will act preemptively."

In the south, where Moscow is attempting to impose its authority over occupied territory spanning Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, Ukraine's defence ministry reported capturing more territory in Kherson province during a counterattack.

In a nighttime address, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stated that Ukraine was also experiencing "some encouraging results in the Zaporizhzhia area, where we are successfully impeding the occupiers' plans." He did not disclose details.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the situation in Zaporizhia or Kherson. Russian-installed proxies in both provinces claim that they intend to hold referendums on joining Russia.

Since the 24th of February, when Moscow initiated its "special military operation" to disarm and "denazify" its neighbour, thousands of people have been slain and millions have fled. Ukraine and its allies refer to the invasion as an act of unprovoked aggression.


President Vladimir Putin, speaking in Moscow to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the birth of Russian Tsar Peter the Great, drew a connection between their respective historic journeys to reclaim what he termed "Russian territory."

"The Great Northern War was waged by Peter the Great for 21 years. It appears he was at war with Sweden because he stole something from them. He did not take anything from them, he returned (what was Russia's)," Putin stated.

In a rare report from Sievierodonetsk, the commander of the Ukrainian Svoboda National Guard Battalion, Petro Kusyk, stated that the Ukrainians were luring the Russians into street fighting in order to neutralise Russia's artillery advantage.

"Yesterday was a success for us; we launched a counteroffensive and pushed them back one or two blocks in some locations. In others, they only pushed us back by one or two buildings "In a television interview, he stated.

However, he warned that his soldiers suffered from a "catastrophic" lack of counter-battery artillery to fire back at Russia's guns, and that acquiring these weapons would reshape the battlefield.

The mayor of Sievierodonetsk, Oleksandr Stryuk, stated that approximately 10,000 civilians were still entrapped within the city, almost a tenth of its pre-war population.

Reuters was unable to confirm the city's situation on the ground.

Russia is advancing from the north and south to the west of Sievierodonetsk in an attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region comprising Luhansk and neighbouring Donetsk province.

In the salt-mining town of Soledar, located near Bakhmut and close to the front line, buildings had been blasted into craters.

The remaining inhabitants, who were primarily old, took refuge in a cramped cellar. Antonina, age 65, had gone outside to inspect her garden. "We will remain. Here we reside. Here we were born, "She cried. When is everything going to end?


Russian news outlets stated that a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), one of Russia's proxies in eastern Ukraine, sentenced to death two Britons and a Moroccan who were seized while fighting for Ukraine.

The United Kingdom criticised the court's decision as illegitimate and a "sham judgement."

Ukraine is one of the world's largest exporters of grain and food oil, and in recent weeks the international community has focused on the possibility of global starvation attributed to Russia's blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports.

"If the Russian embargo of the Black Sea continues, millions of people may starve," Zelenskiy stated in televised remarks on Thursday.

Moscow blames Western restrictions that hamper its own grain exports for the food crisis. It indicates that it is willing to allow shipments from Ukrainian ports provided Ukraine removes mines and meets other conditions. Such offers are deemed empty promises by Kiev.

The NATO power Turkey, which has good connections with both Kiev and Moscow, has attempted to intervene.

Russia has also attempted to export grain from regions of Ukraine it has captured, which Kiev and the West regard to as plunder.

When asked if an agreement had been struck to transfer grain from southern Ukraine to Turkey or a Middle Eastern country, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded, "No agreements have been reached as of yet; nonetheless, work is ongoing."

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