Fierce fighting when Russian troops enter the suburbs of Siverodonetsk

  • Russian forces enter the territory of Siverodonetsk – Governor
  • Ukraine demands more weapons from the West
  • Borel says the EU will accept the next sanctions

KYIV, Ukraine, May 30 (Reuters) – The regional governor entered the suburbs of Ukraine’s Sivrodonetsk on Monday, describing the “most intense” fighting in the ruins of the city that has become the epicenter of the Moscow attacks. .

Russia has concentrated its firepower on the last large population center in the eastern province of Luhansk, with Ukrainian forces pursuing one of the goals set by President Vladimir Putin after three months of war.

The relentless shelling has kept Ukrainian forces guarding the ruins in Siverodonetsk, but their refusal to do so has reduced the massive Russian offensive throughout the Donbass region.

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Luhansk Regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russian troops had advanced into the city’s southeastern and northeastern borders. But he said Ukrainian forces had driven the Russians south from the village of Toshkivka and frustrated Moscow’s drive to encircle the area. read more

“The capture of Sievierodonetsk is a fundamental task for the occupiers … We are doing everything we can to sustain this progress,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a televised address.

“Some 90% of the buildings are damaged. Two-thirds of the city’s homes are completely destroyed.”

EU leaders are set to meet on Monday and Tuesday to discuss a new embargo against Russia, including an oil embargo.

But EU governments failed to reach an agreement in a month-long negotiation, especially as Hungary said it could not close its refineries with its large Soviet-era Trushpoh pipeline, whose name would mean “friendly”.

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Ahead of the summit, German Economy Minister Robert Hebeck expressed fears that EU unity was “beginning to crumble.” The draft results, as seen by Reuters, indicate that the new results are likely to be small. read more

But EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borel said on Monday afternoon that “there will eventually be an agreement” on the next sanctions deal.

‘Unconditional priority’

After failing to capture Kiev in March, Russia announced that the focus of its “special military operation” would now be to capture the entire Donbass region, which includes the two provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk. Moscow is claiming rights on behalf of separatist proxies.

On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Donbass’ “liberation” was an “unconditional priority” for Moscow. read more

The capture of Siverodonetsk and its twin city of Lyczynsk, on the opposite bank of the Tsivarsky Donets River, would give Russia effective control over the Luhansk region, at which point the Kremlin could announce some sort of victory.

But Russia could eventually open up other territories to Ukrainian counter-attacks by focusing its efforts on the war for a small town that had only about 100,000 people before the war on Chivrodonetsk.

The last few days have seen the first signs of a possible Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south, where Moscow is trying to consolidate its control over the province of Gershon, which was captured in the early weeks of its invasion in February.

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Kyiv says its forces have in recent days pushed Russian troops into defensive positions in three villages – Andriyivka, Lozove and Bilohorka – all located on the south bank of the Inhults River, which forms the Kherson border.

The Institute for War Studies said that the Ukrainian offensive so far did not appear to have the potential to recapture significant territory soon, but would hamper Russian operations and force Moscow to strengthen its territory.

The town council said in a telegram that a suspicious Russian strike north of the Gershon battlefield had damaged the center of the Ukrainian-controlled city of Novi Buh overnight.

Russia says it has also attacked a shipyard in Mykolayiv, a large Ukrainian-controlled port west of Kersen.

Separately, French Foreign Minister Catherine Cologne is scheduled to meet with Kiev Jalensky later on Monday to offer further support, the French Foreign Ministry said.

The Ukrainian government, now in its fourth month, has been urging the West to provide more long-range weapons to reverse the tide of war. Zhelensky said he expects “good news” in the coming days.

A Ukrainian soldier patrolling a moat near the town of Baghmud, southwest of Siverodonetsk, spoke of the nagging fear that his government might be dragged into negotiations to end the conflict in order to lose Ukrainian territory.

“Now that the fight is so intense and hard you know what I’m most afraid of?” Dimitro, a former English language teacher, told Reuters television. “We will be told: That’s it, stop, we have a ceasefire.”

“The negotiated settlement will only take place in accordance with Ukrainian rules. If that happened now it would be a terrible one.”

Reuters Bureau report; Humeyra Pamuk, by Stephen Coates, Peter Graf; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Kevin Liffey

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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