Tuesday, July 5

The battle intensifies in the Lugansk region as Zelensky calls the Russian offensive in Donbas “hell”

The battle near the key city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine is intensifying, with Moscow saying it is poised to seize the Luhansk region under constant fire and kyiv calling the battle “hell”. situation in Donbas during the Russian offensive.

The governor of Lugansk, Serhiy Haidai, has accused the Russian forces of attacking with artillery a school in Severodonetsk, located in the region, “where more than 200 people were hiding, many children”. As he has reported on Telegram, three people have died.

The attack comes after the death of 12 people as a result of Russian bombing in Severodonetsk, according to Haidai. “From the morning they began shooting at the regional center with heavy weapons at random. Most of them targeted residential buildings,” said the regional governor.

Haidai accused Russian forces on Friday of subjecting the city of Severodonetsk to very intense bombardment, where, according to his data, up to 15,000 people remain in bomb shelters. The governor has claimed that 70% of high-rise buildings are destroyed or damaged. “Many of them have to be demolished and new ones built.”

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Russian Army advance areas

Areas in which Ukraine has regained control

Separatist region prior to the Russian invasion

The Ukrainian armed forces report in their last part of the war that the Russian forces are carrying out an offensive operation in the Severodonetsk area –as well as in Lysychansk–, one of the main urban centers of Lugansk, still under Ukrainian control and considered key to the control of this region of Donbas. According to the Ukrainian Army, the Russians have carried out assault operations in the direction of the city but “they were unsuccessful, suffered losses and were forced to withdraw”.

Western military analysts believe the Russians are trying to encircle Severodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk at least from the south, possibly focusing on cutting off the last road connecting the two towns with the rest of Ukraine. On Wednesday, Ukraine’s National Guard released a video they say shows the destruction of a bridge connecting Severodonetsk with Rubizhne to the north. Guardian has independently verified the location, which shows a bridge over the Borova River.

This Friday, the Russian Defense Minister stated that what they call the “liberation of the Lugansk People’s Republic” – as the pro-Russian separatist territory in the region, whose control they claim, proclaims itself – is about to be completed. “The groups of the Russian armed forces, together with the people’s militias of Lugansk and the Donetsk People’s Republic continue to expand their control over the Donbas territories. The liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic is drawing to a close,” said Sergey Shoigu.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his late-night speech on Thursday that Russian forces are trying to increase pressure on Donbas. “It’s hell, and it’s not an exaggeration,” Zelensky said. He mentioned the shelling of the city of Severodonetsk that killed 12 people, which he called “brutal and absolutely useless.” “The bombing of other cities, the air and missile attacks of the Russian Army: all this is not just hostilities during the war.”

Speaking to Sky News, Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko has also said that “serious shelling” is taking place in eastern Ukraine at the moment. “They are only bombing the cities of the Lugansk region for bombing and inflicting fear and more pain and tragedy among the population in an effort to make people surrender.”

The governor of the Lugansk region has assured this Friday that more than 11,000 houses have been destroyed by the Russian Army, of which almost 3,200 were high-rise buildings.

After encountering unexpectedly fierce resistance and logistical problems, the Kremlin abandoned its operations around kyiv more than a month ago and has concentrated on Donbas, the industrial region of eastern Ukraine, the scene of an armed conflict since 2014 and where the pro-Russian separatist territories recognized by Vladimir Putin are located.

On the battlefield, Russian troops so far appear to be making limited gains in Donbas, marked by comings and goings, mile after mile, according to the Pentagon. A senior US defense official told reporters on Wednesday that they are observing that, in the fighting in Donbas, Russian offensive operations “become smaller in size and scale” and that their targets “become more localized.” .

“It’s about towns and villages and sometimes crossroads that these guys are trying to reach. So it’s kind of narrowing down your goals and your goals. And that also corresponds to the size of the units that are involved in these smaller targets,” he said. The Ukrainian Army reported this Friday that, in the last 24 hours, it repelled 14 Russian attacks in the Donetsk and Lugansk directions.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has left a trail of destruction in its wake, forcing millions to flee and claiming thousands of lives. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has confirmed that at least 3,838 civilians have been killed, 256 of them minors, since the start of the offensive, and a slightly higher number wounded. However, the UN assumes that the real figures are higher. In the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, the death of 2,119 people has been registered, 127 of them in territory controlled by the pro-Russian rebels.