Russia on Thursday made a concerted effort to seize control of the rest of Ukraine’s industrial zone, Lugansk, officials said, adding that the war before the country was still at its peak.
As the war intensified, Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba voiced Kiev’s growing frustration with the West, accusing the Allies of dragging their feet in arms supplies and telling his German counterpart that Ukraine needed heavy weapons “as soon as possible.”
After failing to capture the capital, Kyiv, Moscow’s troops pushed into the eastern industrial Donbass region, closing several town centers, including the strategically located Severodonetsk and Lisichansk.
“The situation is still tense, because the Russian army has thrown all its forces into the occupation of the Lugansk region,” regional governor Sergei Gaddy said in a telegram.
“Extremely fierce fighting is going on on the outskirts of Severodonetsk. They are only destroying the city, they are shelling every day, shelling without a break.”
Russian forces also bombed Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, killing nine, after Moscow withdrew its attempt to seize the northeastern hub.
Five civilians were killed Thursday in the southern Donetsk region, according to the governor.
Kiev is losing patience with the West over its failure to quickly arm Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russia’s oil exports over existing economic sanctions.
“We need to deliver heavier weapons as soon as possible, especially the MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) to repel a Russian attack,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter after talking to Germany’s Analena Bayerbock.
– ‘Maximum intensity’ –
Earlier in the day, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malir told reporters that the fighting had reached “its maximum intensity” since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24.
Pro-Moscow separatist groups have controlled parts of Donbass since 2014, an industrial basin consisting of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, but Russia now appears ready to occupy the entire region.
“Enemy forces are simultaneously storming our troop positions in different directions. We have an extremely difficult and long stage of battle ahead of us,” Malir said.
Three people have been killed in recent Russian attacks in Severodonetsk and Lysichansk, which are located on important routes in the former administrative center of Ukraine in Kramatorsk, according to Gaid.
In Kramatorsk, children wander through the rubble left by the Russian invasion when the sound of artillery fire comes.
“I’m not scared,” said Yevgen, a 13-year-old man who moved to Kramatorsk with his mother from the ruins of his village.
“I’m used to shelling,” he announced as he sat alone on the slab of a dilapidated apartment block.
And new shelling around Kharkiv has killed at least nine people and injured 19, officials say.
Regional Governor Oleg Sinegubov said on social media, “Today the enemies are firing on Kharkiv fraudulently,” warning residents to evacuate the air strike shelter.
An AFP reporter in Kharkiv saw smoke billowing from the affected area and several people were injured near a closed shopping center. An elderly man with injuries to his arms and legs was taken away by doctors.
– ‘Show me a Nazi!’ –
Russia’s argument for a “special military operation” to “demilitarize and de-Nazify” Ukraine has created a stir in a village near Kharkiv.
“Show me a Nazi in the village! We have a nation, we are nationalists but not Nazis or fascists,” said Larissa Cosinets, a retired nurse.
Elsewhere, in the strategic southern port city of Mariupol, occupying authorities canceled school holidays to prepare students for a change in the Russian curriculum, a Ukrainian official said.
Earlier this month, Mariupol fell after a devastating siege near Russia that killed thousands and left the city in ruins.
“Throughout the summer, children need to study Russian language, literature and history, as well as math classes in Russian,” city official Petro Andruschenko wrote on social media.
– ‘Lost faith for generations’ –
Finnish Prime Minister Sanaa Marin became the latest Western official to visit Kyiv on Thursday, where he said it would take decades to repair Russia’s position in the world after the invasion of Ukraine.
“Confidence has been lost for generations,” Marine told a news conference.
German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, who has faced criticism over Berlin’s slow response, also weighed in on Thursday, saying he would not seriously discuss Russian President Vladimir Putin until he realized he could win in Ukraine.
“Our goal is crystal-clear – Putin must not win this war. And I am sure he will not win it,” Schulz told the World Economic Forum in Davos.
– Food crisis fears –
The Ukraine conflict has created fears of a global food crisis, on top of the political and economic shockwave that has already been reflected around the world.
The Kremlin on Thursday pointed fingers at Western countries for dropping grain ships from Ukrainian ports – denying allegations that Russia was responsible.
Putin said in a telephone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Moscow was ready to make a “significant contribution” to the crisis if the West lifted sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters after the call, Draghi said he would talk to both Moscow and Kyiv to resolve the food crisis, but added that he had little hope of ending the war.
Asked if he had seen any glimmer of hope for peace, the Italian prime minister said: “The answer is no.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)