Zelenskiy Claims Some Success In Battle For Control Of Syevyerodonetsk
By RFE/RL June 02, 2022
Ukrainian forces have had some success fighting Russians in the city of Syevyerodonetsk, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his late-night address on June 2, but the overall military situation in the Donbas region, which he previously characterized as "very difficult," has not changed.
Ukrainian forces have been locked in a grinding battle for control of the city and regions in eastern Ukraine as they struggle to hold off Russian troops while they await the arrival of the advanced rockets and anti-aircraft weapons that the United States has promised to send.
But the arms deliveries are possibly weeks away, meaning a prolonged period of grueling combat is likely.
The war has become "a war of attrition," NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned on June 2 following talks with U.S. President Joe Biden.
"Wars are by nature unpredictable and therefore we just have to be prepared for the long haul," Stoltenberg told reporters after meeting Biden at the White House.
The war most likely will end at the negotiating table, he said, adding that what happens during talks is closely linked to the situation on the battlefield.
Street fighting was reported on June 2 in Syevyerodonetsk where Ukrainian forces continued to put up stiff resistance despite the Russians controlling most of the key Donbas city with the aid of massive and indiscriminate artillery bombardments.
Zelenskiy again urged the West to speed up weapons deliveries for his outnumbered and outgunned troops as the Kremlin angrily warned that arming Kyiv will "bring more suffering to Ukrainians."
Moscow's furious reaction came after Britain joined the United States and Germany in announcing that it will send Ukraine advanced weapons systems to help defend itself against Russia.
As fighting raged in Syevyerodonetsk, a regional official warned that civilians are sheltering from Russian shelling under a chemical plant in the city and authorities fear it may still have stocks of dangerous materials.
The regional head of the Luhansk military administration, Serhiy Hayday, said that 80 percent of Syevyerodonetsk was now under Russian control.
Hayday also said on June 2 that, besides Syevyerodonetsk, Russians are also attempting to advance south toward the key Ukrainian-held cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk, where Mayor Vadym Lyakh called for the evacuation of the heavily damaged city.
In its daily intelligence bulletin on June 2, Britain's Ministry of Defense concurred that Russia has taken control of most of Syevyerodonetsk.
It said that the main road into the city "likely" remains under Ukrainian control but Russians are making steady gains with the aid of heavy artillery fire.
In an address to Luxembourg's parliament, Zelenskiy said Russia now occupies about 20 percent of his country's territory, with the front line of the battle stretching for more than 1,000 kilometers.
He said Ukraine estimates Moscow that has lost "more than 30,000 soldiers," since it launched its offensive on February 24, "but this does not stop Russia. This state is still ready to lose and kill, kill people."
"Because only one person in Russia doesn't want to let us stay as we are," he added, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who before the war questioned the existence of Ukraine as a nation state.
In his nightly address Zelenskiy also slammed the "absolutely senseless shelling" of northern border regions from Russian territory.
"The entire temporarily occupied territory of our state is now a zone of complete disaster, for which Russia bears full responsibility," he said.
Zelenskiy also thanked Biden for promising to send missiles and said he expected good news about weapons supplies from other partners.
The new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said after presenting her credentials to Zelenskiy that the delivery of U.S. military aid is being accelerated.
"My understanding is that now it's very quick, within days, less even, of a decision, that the hardware is in Ukrainian hands," Ambassador Bridget Brink said.
But senior Pentagon officials have said the most advanced U.S. rocket systems -- the HIMARS -- that can strike targets as far as 80 kilometers away, will take at least three weeks to reach the battlefront, raising questions of whether they will arrive in time to stop Russia's slow but steady gains.
Zelenskiy has voiced gratitude for all the assistance that Ukraine has received from the West, but said that weapons supplies needed to be sped up up because "we have to defend ourselves against virtually the entire Russian Army."
"We need more weapons for Ukraine -- modern weapons that will ensure the superiority of our state over Russia in this war not only through courage, intelligence, but also technologically. And I ask you to advocate this need before other European states," Zelenskiy said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov again warned on June 2 of "absolutely undesirable and rather unpleasant scenarios" if the latest Western-supplied weapons were used against Russia.
"This pumping of Ukraine with weapons...will bring more suffering to Ukraine, which is merely a tool in the hands of those countries that supply it with weapons," Peskov told reporters.
But Peskov, asked if Moscow, after being slapped with the most onerous sanctions in recent history, wants to close "the window" to Europe that Peter the Great sought to open 300 years ago, said "No one is planning to close anything."
With reporting by Reuters, BBC, CNN, AP, and AFP
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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