Russians focus firepower to seize 2 villages in east Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine — The Russian military expanded its grab of territory in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, capturing two villages and vying for control of a key highway in an offensive that could cut supply lines and encircle some frontline Ukrainian forces, British and Ukrainian military officials said.

Britain’s defense ministry said that Ukrainian forces had withdrawn from some areas near the city of Lysychansk, the latest major battlefield in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine, to avoid the possibility of being encircled as Russians sent in reinforcements and concentrated their firepower in the area.

Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian forces took control of the villages of Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka, and were trying to capture Syrotyne outside Sievierodonetsk, the administrative center of the Luhansk region.

“The enemy is burning everything out in a bid to encircle the Ukrainian group of forces,” Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai told The Associated Press.

“The Russians are advancing without trying to spare the ammunition or troops, and they aren’t running out of either,” Haidai said. “They have an edge in heavy artillery and the number of troops.”

“Part of the Luhansk region still remains under Ukrainian control, defying the Russians and causing their fury and desire to burn it to the ground,” he added

For weeks, Russian forces have pummeled Sievierodonetsk with artillery and air raids, and fought the Ukrainian army house-to-house. Ukrainian forces remain holed up at the Azot chemical plant on the city’s edge, where about 500 civilians were also sheltering.

Haidai said the Ukrainian soldiers were using the plant’s sprawling underground structures, but noted that “the shelling has intensified and even concrete shelters can’t withstand the bombardment.” The Russians are using their entire arsenal — heavy artillery, tanks, aircraft,” he added.

The Russians were also pressing their offensive on Lysychansk, which is located on a steep river bank facing Sievierodonetsk.

Haidai …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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