Massive attacks in the Donbass: the last cities in Luhansk are threatened

The cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk report heavy shelling by Kremlin troops.

Massive attacks in the Donbass: the last cities in Luhansk are threatened

The cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk report heavy shelling by Kremlin troops. These draw their circles around the places ever closer. The ruler of the Russian republic of Chechnya, Kadyrov, has already declared that Severodonetsk will be taken.

In eastern Ukraine's Donbass, Russian troops are encircling the strategically important cities of Severodonetsk and Lyssychansk in the Luhansk region. The last two towns in the region held by Ukrainian soldiers were again heavily attacked this Sunday. Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold direct talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"The enemy has launched new offensive operations," reported the Ukrainian army from the Severodonetsk region. According to Governor Serhiy Gajdaj, the Russian attack continued throughout the day and street fighting is already taking place in the city. The ruler of the Russian republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has already declared that "Severodonetsk is completely under our control". "The city has been liberated," Kadyrov wrote on Telegram on Saturday evening.

Severodonetsk Mayor Olexander Stryuk raised the alarm about the humanitarian and sanitary situation in the city, which had a population of 100,000 before the war. "Constant bombing raids" would make the supply of drinking water more difficult, he wrote on Telegram. There has been no electricity in the city for more than two weeks. The "humanitarian aid center" had to stop its work. It is estimated that around 15,000 civilians remain in Severodonetsk. According to the mayor, they haven't had a cell phone connection with each other or with the outside world for two weeks.

Gajday warned that the situation was deteriorating both in Severodonetsk and in Lysychansk, a twin city separated by a river. "The coming week will be very difficult." In Lysychansk, among other things, a Russian projectile hit a residential building, the governor reported on Telegram. "One girl died instantly, four people had to be taken to the hospital."

A little further east, Moscow reported on Saturday that it had captured the town of Lyman, an important railway junction northeast of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. On Saturday, Chancellor Scholz and President Macron launched a new diplomatic push to end the war. In a joint phone call with Putin, they urged "an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops." According to the federal government, they also called on the Kremlin chief to conduct "serious direct negotiations" with Zelensky.

For his part, Putin warned Germany and France against further arms deliveries to Ukraine. This poses a risk that "the situation in Ukraine will continue to destabilize and the humanitarian crisis will worsen," he said, according to the Kremlin. The global food crisis was also discussed during the call. According to the Kremlin, Putin promised to make concessions on the export of Ukrainian grain. Russia is "ready" to find opportunities "for grain exports without obstacles". This also applies to Ukrainian grain in Black Sea ports.

At the same time, Putin again called for Western sanctions against his country to be lifted. The "anti-Russian sanctions" and "misguided economic and financial policies in Western countries" are the cause of the food crisis. Ukraine and Russia are among the world's most important grain producers. Exports from both countries have collapsed because of the fighting in Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia.

So far, Russian oil and gas has been largely exempt from sanctions - an oil embargo could be discussed again at the EU summit on Monday. Moscow is now quantifying its additional income from the internationally high energy prices for the first time: This year it is expecting additional income of the equivalent of 13.7 billion euros from oil and gas exports, said Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. The money should also be used to strengthen the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

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