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News ID: 103692
Publish Date : 14 June 2022 - 21:33
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LVIV, Ukraine (Dispatches) — Russian troops control about 80% of the fiercely contested eastern Ukrainian city of Sieverodonetsk and have destroyed all three bridges leading out of the city but Ukrainian authorities are still trying to evacuate some wounded residents, a regional official said Tuesday.
Serhiy Haidai, governor of the eastern Luhansk region, acknowledged that a mass evacuation of civilians from Sieverodonetsk now is “simply not possible” due to the relentless shelling and fighting in the city. Ukrainian forces have been pushed to the industrial outskirts of the city because of “the scorched earth method and heavy artillery the Russians are using,” he said.
“There is still an opportunity for the evacuation of the wounded, communication with the Ukrainian military and local residents,” he told The Associated Press by telephone, adding that Russian forces have not yet blocked off the strategic city.
About 12,000 people remain in Sievierodonetsk compared to its pre-war population of 100,000. More than 500 civilians are sheltering in the Azot chemical plant, which is being relentlessly pounded by the Russians, according to Haidai.
In all, 70 civilians have been evacuated from the Luhansk region over the past 24 fours, the governor said.
Russian forces in the last few weeks have pressed hard to capture Ukraine’s eastern Donbas area, which borders Russia and is made up of the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. It is the industrial heartland of the country.
Jan Egeland, the Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, one of the aid organizations supplying food to the people there, said the fighting of the past weeks have made regular food distribution impossible.
“The situation is difficult,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnky said in a news conference on Tuesday with Danish media. “Our task is to fight back.”
Ukraine has pleaded for the West to send more and better artillery as the country runs out of ammunition for its existing Soviet-era arsenal, which is dwarfed by Russia’s.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Tuesday the training of Ukrainian troops on German howitzers will soon be completed, paving the way for the use of the weapons in the war in Ukraine.
Western countries have promised NATO-standard weapons but deploying them is taking time.
“The training on the Panzerhaubitze 2000 will soon be completed so that it can be used in battle in Ukraine,” Lambrecht told reporters during a visit to a military base in the western German town of Rheinbach.
The Panzerhaubitze 2000 is one of the most powerful artillery weapons in Bundeswehr inventories and can hit targets at a distance of 40 km (25 miles).

 
Germany pledged in May to supply Kyiv with seven self-propelled howitzers, adding to five such artillery systems the Netherlands have promised.
But Berlin has also faced accusations from Ukraine that it is dragging its feet and taking too much time to deliver heavy weapons as the conflict has shifted into a punishing war of attrition.
Lambrecht gave no details on when the howitzers would be sent to Ukraine.
“The first howitzers will be delivered (to Ukraine) when the training has been completed and it is responsible (to supply them),” she said, adding she would make neither the date nor transport routes public for security reasons.
Kyiv needs 1,000 howitzers, 500 tanks and 1,000 drones among other heavy weapons, Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Monday. 

 

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