KYIV, May 27 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Ukraine said the war in the east of the country had hit its fiercest level yet as it urged Western allies to match words with support against invading Russian forces.
Moscow’s troops are pushing into the industrial Donbas region, closing in on several urban centres including the
strategically located Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.
Russian forces also shelled Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, killing four people, after Moscow’s efforts to capture the north-eastern hub were repelled by heavy battles early in the war.
Britain and Germany both said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin must be defeated in the conflict, now in its fourth month, but Kyiv called onthe West to urgently supply more heavy weapons for its outgunned forces.
“The fighting has reached its maximum intensity,” Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar told a press briefing about the battles in the east.
“Enemy forces are storming the positions of our troops simultaneously in several directions. We have an extremely difficult and long stage of fighting ahead of us.”
Pro-Moscow separatist groups have controlled parts of Donbas, the industrial basin comprising Donetsk and Lugansk regions, since 2014 but Russia now appears set on taking the whole region.
Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said that “heavy” Russian bombardments on Lysychansk had done extensive damage to civilian infrastructure, including a humanitarian aid centre.
Three people died in recent Russian attacks on Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which stand on the crucial route to Ukraine’s eastern administrative centre in Kramatorsk, Gaiday said.
Four civilians were killed in shelling in the Donetsk region around Kramatorsk, the Ukrainian presidency said.
Fresh shelling around Kharkiv in the northeast killed another four people, with officials warning residents to take to air raid shelters.
“The occupiers are again shelling the regional centre,” the governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleg Sinegubov, said on Telegram.
As the toll mounted, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the West to add to the billions of dollars in weaponry it has already poured in, and blasted suggestions a negotiated peace could include territorial
“We need the help of our partners — above all, weapons for Ukraine. Full help, without exceptions, without limits, enough to win,” Zelensky said in his daily address to the nation.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had earlier told Davos that his country “badly” needs multiple-launch rocket systems to match Russian firepower.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has faced criticism over Berlin’s slow response, underscored the “resolve and strength” of the West.
“Our goal is crystal clear — Putin must not win this war. And I am convinced that he will not win it,” the German chancellor told the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Scholz added that it was a “matter of making it clear to Putin that there will be no dictated peace.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss echoed the German chancellor’s comments and warned against offering “compromise or appeasement” to Putin.
“We need to make sure that Putin loses in Ukraine and that Ukraine prevails,” Truss told reporters during a visit to Sarajevo, saying that Kyiv needed to be supported without “backsliding”.
The Kremlin on Thursday accused Western countries of stopping grain-carrying vessels from leaving ports in Ukraine, rejecting accusations that Russia was to blame.
“We accuse Western countries of taking a number of illegal actions that have led to this blockade,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. — NNN-AGENCIES