Log In


Reset Password
Associated Press

Russians focus firepower to seize 2 villages in east Ukraine

Ukrainian authorities say Russia's military captured two villages in eastern Ukraine and were vying for control of a key highway in a continued offensive on the frontline

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) - 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 chiefs 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Britain's defense ministry said that Ukrainian forces had withdrawn from some areas near the city of Lysychansk, the latest major battlefield in Russian President Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine, to avoid the possibility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.

For weeks, Russian forces have pummeled Sievierodonetsk, the administrative center of the Luhansk region, 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.

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

The U.K. Ministry of Defense noted in its intelligence assessment Thursday that Russian forces have likely advanced more than five kilometers (three miles) towards the southern approaches of Lysychansk since Sunday.

“Some Ukrainian units have withdrawn, probably to avoid being encircled,” the statement said. “Russia's improved performance in this sector is likely a result of recent unit reinforcement and heavy concentration of fire.”

Ukraine's military said the Russians were also moving to overtake the hills overlooking a highway linking Lysychansk with Bakhmut, to the southwest, in an attempt to cut the supply lines of Ukrainian forces.

Following a botched attempt to capture the Ukrainian capital in the early stage of the invasion on Feb. 24, Russian forces have shifted focus to Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland of Donbas, where the Ukrainian forces have fought Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.

The Russian military currently controls about 95% of the Luhansk region, and about half of the neighboring Donetsk region of Donbas.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

- A Ukrainian politician and TV personality says an online fundraising pitch aimed to help Ukraine buy three offensive drones has already drummed up $10.4 million dollars - in just 24 hours.

Serhiy Prytula credited “amazing” support among Ukrainians after his charitable foundation launched the appeal for $15 million a day earlier for the purchase of the Bayraktar drones like those that Ukrainian forces have already used to defend against Russian invaders.

He tweeted: “4,6m $ to go. The People's Bayraktar project is already a nationwide crowdfunding. Let's turn it into international!”

Ukrainian soldiers camouflage a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer with tree branches after they fired at Russian position in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region Saturday, June 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
FILE - Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, June 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, Filw)
A woman walks past a building destroyed in Russian shelling in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
A Ukrainian soldier stands on a self-propelled artillery vehicle Gvozdika, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Friday, June 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Farmers carry a Russian rocket fragment on a sunflower field in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Russian hostilities in Ukraine are preventing grain from leaving the "breadbasket of the world" and making food more expensive across the globe, threatening to worsen shortages, hunger and political instability in developing countries. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A Ukrainian soldier carries a U.S.-supplied Stinger as he goes along the road, in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region Saturday, June 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A teddy bear is seen on a building destroyed by attacks in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Sunday, June 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Hanna Sylivon, 76, stands outside her house destroyed by attacks in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Sunday, June 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Farmer Oleksandr Zhuravsky checks the wheat in a field in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Russian hostilities in Ukraine are preventing grain from leaving the "breadbasket of the world" and making food more expensive across the globe, threatening to worsen shortages, hunger and political instability in developing countries. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A man rides a bicycle past a building damaged in Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, June 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)