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Ukraine Holding Off Russian Attacks on Sievierodonetsk

Members of foreign volunteers unit which fights in the Ukrainian army take positions, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk region Ukraine June 2, 2022.
Members of foreign volunteers unit which fights in the Ukrainian army take positions, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk region Ukraine June 2, 2022.

Russian forces are blowing up bridges across the Seversky Donets River to prevent Ukraine from bringing in military reinforcements and delivering aid to civilians in the town of Sievierodonetsk, the governor of the Luhansk region said Saturday.

Serhiy Haidai said in a television broadcast the Ukrainian military continues to hold its positions inside Sievierodonetsk and is pushing back Russian forces in several locations.

“They are moving forward step-by-step. They are simply destroying everything with artillery, aircraft, mortars, tanks,” London’s Guardian quoted Haidai as saying. “But as soon as we have enough Western long-range weapons, we will push their artillery away from our positions. And then, believe me, the Russian infantry, they will just run.”


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Ukraine’s military said Russia has reinforced its troops and is using artillery to conduct "assault operations” in the city, which has been bombarded by Moscow's forces for weeks.

"The enemy is undertaking attacks on the city of Sievierodonetsk with artillery support, it has strengthened its troops with the mobile reserves of the Second Army Corps, the fighting in the city continues," the Ukrainian military said Saturday, as quoted by RFE/RL.

But it added that Russian forces had retreated after failed attempts to advance in the nearby town of Bakhmut and after they had cut off access to Sievierodonetsk.

In its regular intelligence update Saturday, Britain's Defense Ministry said Russian air activity remains high over Ukraine's Donbas region, with Russian aircraft conducting strikes using both guided and unguided munitions.

“Russia’s inability to suppress or destroy Ukrainian strategic air defense systems in the opening days of the conflict limited its ability to provide tactical air support to ground maneuver elements, contributing to the failure to advance on Kyiv,” it said.


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The ministry said that consequently, Russia has restricted its air activity to deep strikes using air and surface launched cruise missiles to disrupt Ukrainian troop and supply movement, but these have had no meaningful impact on the conflict, and Russian stocks of precision-guided missiles are likely significantly depleted.

"The increased use of unguided munitions has led to the widespread destruction of built-up areas in the Donbas and has almost certainly caused substantial collateral damage and civilian casualties," it added.

British intelligence estimates that Russia now controls more than 90% of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine and is likely to gain complete control of the region in the next two weeks.


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Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said it is vital that Russia is not humiliated so that when the fighting stops in Ukraine, a diplomatic solution can be found, adding that he believes Paris would play a mediating role to end the conflict.

Macron has sought to maintain a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February. His stance has been repeatedly criticized by some eastern and Baltic partners in Europe, as they see it as undermining efforts to pressure Putin to the negotiating table.

"We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops, we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means," Macron said in an interview with regional newspapers published Saturday. "I am convinced that it is France's role to be a mediating power."

Macron has spoken with Putin regularly since the invasion as part of efforts to achieve a cease-fire and begin a credible negotiation between Kyiv and Moscow.

"I think, and I told him, that he is making a historic and fundamental mistake for his people, for himself and for history," Macron said.

France has supported Ukraine militarily and financially, but until now, Macron has not been to Kyiv to offer symbolic political support like other EU leaders, something Ukraine has wanted him to do. Macron said he had not ruled out a visit.

Paris is sending offensive weapons, including Caesar howitzer cannons taken from French army stocks. Macron said he had asked weapons manufacturers to accelerate production.

Some information from Reuters was used in this report.