Russia assaults Sievierodonetsk wasteland, extends fuel cuts to Europe

  • Russian forces advance slowly on Sievierodonetsk metropolis centre
  • 1000’s of civilians trapped in Sievierodonetsk
  • EU resolves deadlock over Russian oil ban
  • However Zelenskiy criticises EU’s ‘unacceptable’ delay

KYIV, Might 31 (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces have been holding out within the jap industrial metropolis of Sievierodonetsk on Tuesday, resisting Russia’s all-out assault to seize a bombed-out wasteland that Moscow has made the principal goal of its invasion.

Each side mentioned Russian forces now managed between a 3rd and half of the town. Russia’s separatist proxies acknowledged that capturing the town was taking longer than hoped, regardless of one of many greatest floor assaults of the struggle.

Russia, responding to Western sanctions after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, widened its fuel cuts to Europe on Tuesday with Gazprom (GAZP.MM) saying it could minimize provides to a number of “unfriendly” nations which have refused to simply accept Moscow’s roubles-for-gas fee scheme. learn extra .

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EU leaders agreed in a single day to chop imports of Russian oil by 90% by year-end, the bloc’s hardest but response. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed the transfer however criticised what he known as an “unacceptable” delay.

“When over 50 days have handed between the fifth and sixth sanction packages, the state of affairs shouldn’t be acceptable for us,” Zelenskiy mentioned, talking alongside Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova in Kyiv.

Western army analysts say Moscow has drained manpower and firepower from throughout different components of the entrance to focus on Sievierodonetsk, hoping a large offensive will obtain certainly one of its said goals, to safe surrounding Luhansk province for separatist proxies.

“We will say already {that a} third of Sievierodonetsk is already below our management,” Russia’s TASS state information company quoted Leonid Pasechnik, the chief of the pro-Moscow Luhansk Folks’s Republic, as saying.

Combating was raging within the metropolis, however Russian forces weren’t advancing as quickly as may need been hoped, he mentioned, claiming that pro-Moscow forces wished to “keep the town’s infrastructure” and moved slowly due to warning round chemical factories.

A Russian air strike hit a nitric acid tank, Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai mentioned on Tuesday. In a put up on the Telegram app, he urged native residents to not go away bomb shelters due to the danger posed by poisonous fumes. learn extra

In its night briefing be aware on Fb, Ukraine’s army command mentioned that Russian forces have been “making an attempt to take full management of Sievierodonetsk” and encompass Ukrainian items combating there.

“Sadly … the town has been break up in half. However on the similar time the town nonetheless defends itself. It’s nonetheless Ukrainian,” the pinnacle of the town administration, Oleksandr Stryuk, mentioned, advising these nonetheless trapped inside to remain in cellars.

Ukraine says Russia has destroyed the entire metropolis’s vital infrastructure with unrelenting bombardment, adopted by wave after wave of mass floor assaults involving large numbers of casualties.

1000’s of residents stay trapped. Russian forces have been advancing in direction of the town centre, however slowly, regional governor Gaidai mentioned.

Gaidai mentioned there didn’t look like a danger of Ukrainian forces being encircled, although they might in the end be pressured to retreat throughout the Siverskyi Donets river to Lysychansk, the dual metropolis on the other financial institution.

Stryuk, head of the town administration, mentioned evacuating civilians was now not doable.

Jan Egeland, secretary normal of the Norwegian Refugee Council assist company which had lengthy operated out of Sievierodonetsk, mentioned he was “horrified” by its destruction.

“We worry that as much as 12,000 civilians stay caught in crossfire within the metropolis, with out ample entry to water, meals, medication or electrical energy,” he mentioned. “The near-constant bombardment is forcing civilians to hunt refuge in bomb shelters and basements, with solely few valuable alternatives for these attempting to flee.”

Elsewhere on the battlefield, there have been few experiences of main shifts. Within the east, Ukraine says Moscow is attempting to assault different areas alongside the primary entrance, regrouping to press in direction of the town of Sloviansk. Within the south, Ukraine claimed in current days to have pushed again Russian forces to the border of Russian-held Kherson province.


After failing to seize Kyiv and being pushed out of northern Ukraine, victory in Sievierodonetsk and throughout the river in Lysychansk would deliver full management of Luhansk, certainly one of two jap provinces Moscow claims on behalf of separatist proxies.

“(President Vladimir) Putin is now hurling males and munitions” at Sievierodonetsk, “as if taking it could win the struggle for the Kremlin. He’s fallacious,” the Washington-based Institute for the Research of Struggle suppose tank wrote this week.

The EU mentioned it’ll ban imports of Russian oil by sea. Officers mentioned that may halt two-thirds of Russia’s oil exports to Europe at first, and 90% by the tip of this 12 months as Germany and Poland additionally section out imports by pipeline.

However Hungary, which depends on Russian oil by way of an enormous Soviet-era pipeline, secured an exemption. learn extra

Putin launched his “particular operation” in February to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and its Western allies name this a baseless pretext for a struggle to grab territory.

Ukraine accuses Moscow of struggle crimes on an enormous scale, flattening cities and killing and raping civilians. Russia denies the accusations.

Within the second struggle crimes trial to be held in Ukraine, two Russian troopers have been jailed on Tuesday for 11-1/2 years after pleading responsible to shelling civilian targets. Ukraine’s high prosecutor mentioned Kyiv has recognized greater than 600 Russian struggle crime suspects and began prosecuting round 80.

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Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Peter Graff and Nick Macfie; Modifying by Stephen Coates, Alison Williams and Tomasz Janowski

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