- The city of Siverodonetsk focuses on the fighting for eastern Ukraine
- Hundreds are trapped at the Azot chemical plant in Sivirodonetsk
- NATO defense ministers to discuss military aid to Ukraine
KYIV, June 15 (Reuters) – NATO defense ministers showed no signs of obeying Russia’s final warning to surrender to the eastern city of Chivrodonetsk early Wednesday, as NATO defense ministers gathered in Brussels to discuss sending more heavy weapons to replenish Kiev’s declining stock.
In order to take advantage of the war to control eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have been telling Ukrainian forces ambushed at a chemical plant in the broken-down city since Wednesday morning to “stop the irrational resistance and lay down their weapons.”
Mikhail Mijintsev, head of Russia’s National Security Management Center, told Interfax that civilians would be evacuated by humanitarian means.
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Ukraine says more than 500 civilians are trapped inside the Azot chemical plant, where its forces have for weeks turned most of Siverodonetsk into ruins in the face of Russian bombings and attacks.
“It is getting harder, but our army is stopping the enemy from three directions at once,” Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region with Siverodonetsk, posted online shortly before Russia’s Moscow time (0500 GMT).
“They are defending Siverodonetsk and not allowing them to advance to Licensing,” he said, referring to the twin cities that Ukraine holds on the opposite bank of the Shivarsky Donetsk River.
“However, the Russians are close and the people are suffering and the houses are being destroyed.”
Luhansk is one of two eastern provinces claiming Moscow on behalf of separatist proxies. Together they form the industrial Ukrainian region of Donbass, where Russia has been focusing on its offensive since failing to capture the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, in March.
Ukrainian civil servants said in the early hours of the morning that its troops were still repelling Russian attacks on the city.
British intelligence said the militants at the chemical plant could survive underground and that Russian forces would focus on the plant, preventing them from relocating their firefighters.
Reuters was unable to verify the wars accounts immediately or what happened after the final warning was issued.
Echo of Mariupol
The Azot bombing echoes the previous siege of the Azovstal Steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, where hundreds of militants and civilians sought refuge from Russian shelling. Those inside surrendered in mid-May and were taken into Russian custody.
The Russian attack on the city of Sivirodonetsk, a city of more than 100,000 people before the war, is currently the focal point of what is known as the Battle of Donbass.
Feb. of Russia. Kiev says 100-200 of its soldiers are killed every day, while hundreds are wounded in bloody battles after the 24th invasion.
Ukraine said on Tuesday that it was trying to evacuate civilians even after Russian forces destroyed the last bridge connecting the Sivorodonetsk with Lisyansk, located on high ground on the west bank of the Shivarsky Donets River.
With all the bridges leading from Sivirodonetsk now destroyed, there is a danger that Ukrainian forces will be surrounded.
“We must keep strong … the enemy suffers more losses, () less strength must continue its occupation,” Zhelensky said in a speech late Tuesday.
Ukrainian officials have demanded that the United States and its allies send more and more artillery and tanks, drones and other heavy weapons.
Western nations have pledged NATO standard weapons – including advanced US rockets. But it will take time to stabilize them, and Ukraine will need constant Western support to switch to new materials and weapons systems.
A one-sided meeting of NATO defense ministers is being held in Brussels on Wednesday, chaired by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. This is the third time a group of nearly 50 countries has met to discuss and coordinate aid to Ukraine.
In May, the US Senate passed a bill to provide an additional $ 40 billion in aid to Ukraine, including $ 15 billion for defense operations, pledging long-range rocket systems, drones and advanced artillery.
But Zelenskiy said Ukraine did not have enough anti-missile systems to protect its cities, adding that “there can be no justification for the delay in delivering them.”
‘Could not exit’
Russia has not provided regular figures of its own casualties, but Western nations say they are too large to force Kiev to relinquish full control of President Vladimir Putin Donbass and southern Ukraine. Putin calls the war a special military operation.
The speed in Siverodonetsk has changed several times over the past few weeks – Russia concentrating its massive artillery fire on urban districts and destroying resistance, then sending ground forces vulnerable to counter-attacks.
Elsewhere in Donbass, Ukraine says Russia is planning an attack on Sloviansk from the north and a front line near Baghmood in the south.
In Donetsk province, important infrastructure, including homes, schools, hospitals and markets, was attacked last week, United Nations spokesman Stephen Dujarric told reporters in New York.
“It has made the lives of people facing severe water shortages almost unbearable, and sometimes they have not been able to leave their homes for several days due to fighting,” Dujarric said.
In the south, the Ukrainian military said it had carried out three airstrikes against troops, fuel depots and military equipment in the Gershon region.
Energy and commodity prices have risen due to global shortages of oil and grains, while Western sanctions have hit Russia hard. Putin’s speech at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg on Friday should be closely watched. read more
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Reuters Bureau report; Written by Rami Job, Stephen Coates and Philip Fletcher; Editing Grant McCauley, Simon Cameron-Moore and Frank Jack Daniel
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