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Under intense fire, Ukrainian defenders in Donbass city hold out

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Russian soldiers stepped up their operations with heavy artillery barrages in an attempt to retake a vita...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Russian soldiers stepped up their operations with heavy artillery barrages in an attempt to retake a vital Ukrainian city in the southeastern Donbas area, which Moscow's top diplomat described as a "unconditional priority."

Constant Russian shelling has damaged all essential infrastructure in Sievierodonetsk, the largest city in Luhansk that Ukraine still controls, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has pledged to do everything in his power to halt the assault.

"Buildings have been devastated to the tune of 90%. Over two-thirds of the city's housing stock has been destroyed altogether. There isn't any means of contact "In a broadcast speech, he remarked.

"For the occupiers, capturing Sievierodonetsk is critical... We're doing everything we can to keep this lead "He went on to say.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated on Sunday that the "liberation" of the Donbas, an industrial region that includes Luhansk and Donetsk, is a "unconditional priority" for Russia.

Ukrainian military in the Donbas announced on Facebook that they had been on the defensive all day on Sunday. In the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, Russian forces shot on 46 civilian villages, killing at least three civilians, wounded two more, and demolishing or damaging 62 residential structures.

Russian shelling continued in many areas, including Novy Buh, Mykolaiv, and Sumy. A Russian missile attack in Novy Buh, in the Mykolaiv area of southern Ukraine, caused significant damage in the city center, according to the local council's Telegram channel.

The struggle for Sievierodonetsk, on the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, is in the spotlight as Russia makes modest but steady progress in the region near the Russian border.

After failing to conquer Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, in the early stages of the conflict, Russia is attempting to strengthen its grip on the Donbas, which is already controlled by Moscow-backed separatists in major portions.

It has concentrated massive firepower on a tiny region, in contrast to early stages of the battle when its forces were generally dispersed, pounding villages and cities with artillery and air strikes.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government has begged the West to supply it with more long-range missiles in order to turn the tide in the four-month-old conflict. Zelenskiy expressed optimism that the weapons will be delivered, predicting "positive news" in the coming days.

Officials in the United States have stated that such weapons systems are being considered.

The Russians have not yet been able to encircle Sievierodonetsk, according to analysts at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, and the Ukrainian defenders have inflicted "fearful casualties" on them.

According to a briefing paper, the Ukrainians were suffering significant losses, both civilians and combatants.

According to commentators, Russia's concentrate on Sievierodonetsk has diverted resources away from other battlefronts, resulting in little progress elsewhere.

A ceramics plant on the outskirts of the Donetsk town of Bakhmut, which crosses the last important road into Sievierodonetsk and is just 10 km (6 miles) from the frontline, was nearly completely destroyed, according to a Reuters journalist in the area.

The writer heard what sounded like incoming artillery fire and a bomb being dropped near the town by a Russian plane. Several transporters carrying Ukrainian troops were spotted in the region.


Russia claims that its "special military operation" in Ukraine is aimed at removing nationalists who are posing a threat to Russian-speakers. Ukraine and Western countries say Russia's allegations are a ruse to justify a war of aggression, and the West has retaliated with a slew of sanctions while also supplying weaponry to aid the Ukrainian government's defense.

However, after over a half-dozen rounds of punitive measures, some targeting oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and banks, the European Union's unity was put to the test again on Sunday when the group failed to agree on a Russian oil embargo. On Monday, the discussions will resume.

Robert Habeck, Germany's Economy Minister, voiced concern that the EU's unity was "beginning to collapse." On Monday and Tuesday, the bloc's leaders will convene in a summit to negotiate a fresh sanctions package against Russia, which would include an oil embargo.

Meanwhile, Zelenskiy paid a visit to Ukrainian forces on the frontlines in the northeastern Kharkiv region, where he has garnered great praise in the West for his leadership in the battle.

A Reuters journalist claimed several explosions were heard in Kharkiv city hours after Zelenskiy's visit, which was his first outside the Kyiv region since the invasion began.

After several weeks of relative calm, a massive cloud of smoke could be seen rising northeast of the city's center, which has been the focus of Russian shelling in recent days.

"You risk your lives for us all and for our country," he said soldiers, according to the president's office, as he presented them with commendations and presents.

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