kyiv bombs the Russians in Kherson, the Battle of Severodonetsk rages

BFMTV

While the pro-Russian partisans demanded an annexation of the Kherson region by Moscow, the Ukrainian air force was on the offensive and struck the positions held by the invader.

More than 100 days after the start of the Russian invasion, fighting is still raging in several Ukrainian areas. This Friday, the forces of kyiv indicated to be on the offensive in the occupied region of Kherson, in the South, of which they fear an upcoming annexation by Russia.

“Our air force struck Russian positions, sites where equipment and personnel are concentrated and depots around five localities in the Kherson region,” the Ukrainian army general staff said on Facebook.

For several days, the Ukrainians have reported fighting in this region, almost all of which has been occupied by Russian troops since the first days of the Russian invasion launched on February 24.

Annexation?

The local authorities put in place by Moscow are loudly calling for annexation. One of the Russian negotiators on the conflict in Ukraine mentioned on June 1 the forthcoming organization of a referendum in the territories occupied by the Russians on this question, which could take place in July.

A project described as “illegal” by kyiv, and which recalls the referendum organized by Russia in Crimea in 2014, before annexing the peninsula in stride. Information about what is happening in this region – connected to Crimea by a strip of land – is scarce.

kyiv on Tuesday accused the Russian army of having imprisoned nearly 600 people there, mainly journalists and pro-kyiv activists, and of subjecting them to “torture”. During a press trip organized in Kherson by the Russian Ministry of Defense at the end of May, the inhabitants met by Agence France-Presse (AFP) for the most part were walled in silence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin compared his policy to that of Tsar Peter the Great, who invaded part of Sweden as well as Finland, part of Estonia and Latvia.

The Battle of Donbass

In the Donbass, the battle for the key city of Severodonetsk and its twin city Lyssytchansk continues, increasingly deadly.

“Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, and other towns in Donbass, which the occupiers now see as their targets, are holding their own,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech on Thursday evening.

But the fighting continues in the city and the shelling is constant, said Friday Serguiï Gaïdaï, governor of the region. He pointed out in particular that the Palace of Mirrors, one of the symbols of the city, had been destroyed in a fire resulting from a Russian bombardment.

He, who said three days ago that Moscow had set itself the goal of taking the city by June 10, also welcomed that they “did not succeed” on his Telegram messaging service.

Taking Severodonetsk would open up Moscow’s route to another major Donbass city, Kramatorsk, an important step in conquering the entire Donbass basin, a predominantly Russian-speaking region in eastern Ukraine partly held by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

The battle, which has lasted for several weeks, is particularly deadly. kyiv regrets every day “up to 100 soldiers” killed and “500 wounded” in the fighting, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov said Thursday. The Russians say nothing about their losses.

A mother and her daughter awaiting evacuation in the Donbass region, June 9, 2022
A mother and her daughter awaiting evacuation in the Donbass region, June 9, 2022 © ARIS MESSINIS / AFP

Drip heavy weapons

Ukraine could, however, take back Severodonetsk “in two, three days”, as soon as it has “long-range” Western artillery, the same governor assured Thursday.

The Ukrainians, who in 107 days of war have exhausted their Russian and Soviet-made weaponry according to US military sources, are constantly calling on their Western allies for new, more powerful weapons.

The delivery of multiple rocket launcher systems – including Himars with a range of about 80 km, slightly longer than Russian systems, has been announced by Washington and London, but it is unclear when the Ukrainians will be able to start using them.

If Western weaponry seems to be trickling into Ukraine, it is because the allies want to ensure that kyiv is able to absorb it safely and limit the risks of bombardment of its ammunition stocks, explain these US military sources. “We try to maintain a constant flow,” said a US military official.

Volodymyr Zelensky said he discussed France’s military aid to Ukraine with Emmanuel Macron during a telephone conversation on Thursday. The French president, who also chairs the European Union until June 30, notably questioned the Ukrainian president “about his needs” in military equipment, including “heavy weapons”, confirmed Paris.