Russia tightens grip on Ukrainian factory town, denounces US rocket deliveries


  • Zelenskiy urges the West to step up arms deliveries to Ukraine
  • Russian forces now occupy about 20% of Ukraine
  • Russian forces advance further in the Donbass region
  • Also hit targets in western and southern Ukraine

KYIV, June 2 (Reuters) – Russian forces have tightened their grip on a Ukrainian industrial city as part of their drive to control the eastern Donbass region and have targeted rail links used to transport weapons from western allies to Kyiv then that the war is approaching its 100th day. Friday.

Russia has accused the United States of adding ‘fuel to the fire’ after President Joe Biden announced a $700 million weapons package for Ukraine that will include advanced rocket systems for a range of up to 80 km (50 miles).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told a forum in Slovakia on Thursday that Kyiv was grateful for the military aid he had received, but added: “Weapons deliveries should be stepped up… (to) secure a point of inflection in this confrontation”. Read more

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The Biden administration has said Ukraine has promised not to use rocket systems to hit targets inside Russia. Biden hopes extending Ukrainian artillery range will help Russia broker an end to a war in which thousands have been killed, towns and villages razed and more than six million people forced to live. flee the country.

“Ukraine needs weapons to liberate Ukrainian territory that Russia has temporarily occupied. We are not fighting on Russian territory, we are interested in our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Andriy Yermak, head of Zelenskiy’s staff, ignoring Moscow’s criticism of the US decision. .

Moscow has said it views Ukrainian infrastructure used to bring in Western weapons as a legitimate target in what it calls its “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of ultra-nationalists who the Kremlin says threaten Russian security.

“Injecting (Western) weapons into Ukraine does not change all the parameters of the special operation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call.

“Its goals will be achieved, but it will bring more suffering to Ukraine,” Peskov said, responding to a question about whether US plans to sell Ukraine four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones that can be armed with missiles Hellfire for battlefield use could change. conflict parameters.

Four Russian missiles hit railway infrastructure targets at two locations in the western Lviv region on the border with Poland, Governor Maksym Kozytskyi said, injuring five people and causing extensive damage.

THE CITY OF DONBAS AT THE VIEWPOINT

Zelenskiy told the Luxembourg parliament via video link on Thursday that Russian forces currently occupy around 20% of all Ukrainian territory and the front lines now stretch more than 1,000 km (620 miles).

Russian forces, backed by heavy artillery, control most of Sievierodonetsk – now largely in ruins – after days of fierce fighting in which they suffered casualties, the UK Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence report.

“The enemy is carrying out assault operations in the settlement of Sievierodonetsk,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said, adding that Russian forces were also attacking other parts of the east and northeast.

At least four civilians were killed and 10 injured in the east and northeast, other officials said.

Russia denies targeting civilians.

If Russia fully captures Sievierodonetsk and its smaller twin Lysychansk on the west bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, it would hold all of Luhansk, one of two provinces – along with Donetsk – of Donbass claimed by Moscow on behalf of the separatists.

Capturing Luhansk would meet one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated goals and cement a change in momentum on the battlefield after his forces were pushed back from the capital Kyiv and northern Ukraine.

Ukrainian General Oleksiy Gromov told a briefing that Russian forces were trying to assault the village of Berestove which is on a main road linking Lysychansk – also under heavy Russian bombardment – with the rest of the country.

Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Russian forces were trying to advance south towards the main Ukrainian cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, both in Donetsk province.

GLOBAL IMPACT

War has a massive impact on the global economy. Russia has captured some of Ukraine’s biggest seaports and its navy controls major shipping routes in the Black Sea, stalling Ukrainian shipments and deepening a global food crisis.

Russia and Ukraine together account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a major fertilizer exporter and Ukraine a major supplier of corn and sunflower oil.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said Kyiv was working with international partners to create a UN-backed mission to restore Black Sea shipping routes and enable the export of Ukrainian agricultural products. . Read more

In further evidence of the economic pressure on Ukraine, its central bank on Thursday raised the main interest rate to 25%, its highest level in seven years, from 10% on Thursday, to combat soaring inflation and protect the hryvnia. Bank Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko also said it was time to start talks with the International Monetary Fund on a new economic support package.

Moscow called “self-defeating” the European Union’s decision this week to cut oil imports from Russia by 90% by the end of 2022, saying the move could destabilize global oil markets. energy. Read more

The conflict has also rocked Europe’s security arrangements, prompting Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership, although NATO member Turkey has blocked the move, blaming Stockholm and Helsinki. to house people linked to Kurdish militants.

The issue will be on the agenda when Biden welcomes NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to the White House on Thursday. Stoltenberg told reporters he would soon call a meeting in Brussels with Swedish, Finnish and Turkish officials to discuss the issue.

In a rare moment of joy for Ukraine, their football team cruised into this year’s World Cup final with a 3-1 win over Scotland on Wednesday night.

“Sometimes you don’t need a lot of words! Just pride… They went out, fought, persevered and won. Because they are Ukrainians!” Zelenskiy said in a post on the Telegram app alongside a photo of the players celebrating.

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Robert Birsel and Gareth Jones; Editing by Stephen Coates, Raju Gopalakrishnan, Nick Macfie and Catherine Evans

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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