President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Moscow’s massive air and artillery attacks were aimed at destroying the entire Donbas region and urged Ukraine’s allies to accelerate the shipment of heavy weapons to match Russia on the battlefield.
Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to the Ukrainian President said, the fight for the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in Ukraine’s Luhansk region is “entering a sort of fearsome climax.” Russia is seeking to capture both Luhansk and Donetsk, which make up the nation’s industrial heartland, the Donbas region.
On Thursday, June 23, European leaders will formally set Ukraine on the long road to European Union (EU) membership at a summit in Brussels. Though mainly symbolic, the move will help lift morale after four-months of bloody conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and destroyed cities.
Zelenskiy said he had spoken to eleven EU leaders on Wednesday about Ukraine’s candidacy and is in the process of negotiating with more. He claimed to have believed that all twenty-seven EU countries would support Ukraine’s candidate status. “We deserve it,” Zelenskiy told crowds in Amsterdam via video link
Diplomats say it will take Ukraine a decade or more to meet the criteria for joining the EU. But EU leaders say the bloc must make a gesture that recognises Ukraine’s sacrifice.
In a video message, released earlier today, President Zelensky, reiterating Ukrainian demands for larger and faster weapons, said, “We must free our land and achieve victory, but more quickly, a lot more quickly.” “There were massive air and artillery strikes in Donbas. The occupier’s goal here is unchanged, they want to destroy the entire Donbas step-by-step,” he added.
He emphasised upon the urgency of arm deliveries to Ukraine to ensure parity on the battlefield, to halt, what he called, ‘a diabolical armada’ and push it beyond Ukraine’s borders.
The fierce war of attrition in the Donbas is at its most critical in Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.
Hundreds of civilians are trapped in a chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk, with Ukraine and Russia disputing upon controlling the bombed-out city.
Moscow says Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk that is the scene of the heaviest fighting, are surrounded and trapped. It ordered them last week to surrender or die.
Serhiy Gaidai, Luhansk’s regional governor, told Ukrainian Television on June 23, that “battles are continuing” and “Russian forces do not have full control.”
In Lysychansk, TASS news agency cited Russian-backed separatists saying Ukrainians in the city were now surrounded and cut off from supplies after a road connecting the city to the town Sieviersk was taken.
Arestovych said Russian forces in both cities were conscripts of varying levels of training after Ukraine inflicted heavy losses on Russian forces.”It’s like two boxers grappling with each other in the 18th round of a bout and barely able to move things forward. This operation started on 14th April and has been going on for nearly 80 days,” he said in an online video post.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin called a “special operation” to ensure Russian security and denazification of Ukraine. Ukraine and the West called this a baseless pretext for a war of choice that has raised fears of wider conflict in Europe.
Russia has long opposed closer links between Ukraine, a former Soviet Republic, and Western clubs like the EU and the NATO military alliance.
The war in Ukraine has had a massive impact on the global economy and European security, driving up gas, oil and food prices, pushing the EU to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian energy and prompting Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership.
An EU official claimed that the EU will temporarily shift back to coal to cope with dwindling Russian gas flows without derailing longer-term climate goals, as a tight gas market and soaring prices set off a race for alternative fuels.
Leaders from the Group of Seven and NATO will seek to increase pressure on Russia over its war in Ukraine at meetings next week, U.S. administration officials said.