Ukraine fights back in key city of Severodonetsk, dubbed ‘the new Mariupol’, in a new potential blow to Vladimir Putin
- Ukraine’s army is poised to retake the key city of Severodonetsk, a blow to Putin
- More than 70 per cent of the city in Donbas had been seized by Russian troops
- But counter-offensive stormed back through with Western long-range weapons
Ukrainian forces were last night poised to retake the key city of Severodonetsk in what would be another blow to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
More than 70 per cent of the city had been seized by Russian troops as the Kremlin sought to control the Donbas industrial heartland in the embattled east of Ukraine.
But in another sign that the war is not going according to Putin’s plans, a Ukrainian counter-offensive stormed back through Severodonetsk. Heralding the advances, Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region of the Donbas, said: ‘As soon as we have enough Western long-range weapons, we will push their artillery away from our positions. And then, believe me, the Russian infantry, they will just run.’
CLOSE UP: Destroyed Russian tanks and armoured vehicles on display in Saint Michael’s Square, Kyiv, yesterday
But in echoes of the bitter siege of Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks, about 800 people – including children – are hiding in Soviet-era bomb shelters beneath the city’s Azot chemical factory.
Severodonetsk – a central part of the strategically important Donbas region – has faced bombardment for weeks and the fate of residents who chose to remain is unknown.
The Ukrainian advance came as its foreign minister rebuked Emmanuel Macron for suggesting it was important not to ‘humiliate’ Moscow. In an interview, the French president had said: ‘We must not humiliate Russia, so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means.’
But Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: ‘Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it. ‘Because it is Russia that humiliates itself. We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives.’
Russian air strikes have increased in the Donbas as the Kremlin seeks to repel Ukrainian advances, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said last night.
Residents chat in front of a destroyed building in Borodianka, as Russia’s attacks on Ukraine continue
A 500-year-old monastery in the region was engulfed in flames last night after reportedly being struck by Russian artillery. Russia blamed Ukrainian ‘nationalist’ troops. Pictures show the Sviatohirsk Lavra monastery, made almost entirely of large logs, in flames. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the shelling and said there had been 300 people, including the elderly, disabled and 60 children, sheltering inside.
A Ukrainian army officer posted a photo on social media with the caption: ‘Another crime of Russian barbarians for whom there is nothing sacred.’
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