Day 97 of war: Three dead after attack in Sloviansk. Russians claim they have occupied a third of Severodonetsk

Russia has stepped up attacks in the eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the situation remains “extremely difficult”. Russia is trying to occupy the entire Donbas, consisting of Lugansk and Donetsk, and is attacking the towns of Severodonetk and Lisihansk on the banks of the Seversky Donetsk River.

 Sloviansk again hit by Russian bombing

The city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region was attacked by a Russian army during the night. According to preliminary reports quoted by the independent channel Nexta TV, three people were killed and six others were injured.

Severodonetsk, under Russian siege

The separatist leader in the Lugansk region said Russian forces had taken control of a third of Severodonetsk, but their assault took longer than expected.

On the other hand, Lugansk Governor Sergei Gaidai on Ukrainian state television. Gaidai said Ukrainian troops defending Severodonetsk were not in danger of being surrounded, as they could retreat to Lysychansk on the other side of the river.

Russian bombing has turned much of the city into ruins, with Putin’s army destroying almost every house in Severodonetsk. Russian troops entered the southeastern and northeastern outskirts of the city, but Ukrainian defenses slowed the Russian campaign in the Donbas region. Hidden among the ruins, Ukrainian soldiers continue to defend the city and the civilians left there by the constant bombardment of Russian forces.

British Defense Ministry: Russia must conquer other problematic operational targets beyond Severodonetsk to occupy all of Donbas 

The British Ministry of Defense reports in its assessment of Tuesday morning’s war that if the invading troops want to secure the entire territory of the Ukrainian Donbas, they need, even if they conquer Severodonetsk, to achieve operational objectives that proved to be now problematic, such as the strategic city of Kramatorsk or the main road M04. Russia’s capture of Leman supports its main operational effort, which is likely to remain the siege of Severodonetsk and the closure of the “pocket” around Ukrainian forces in the Lugansk region, says London.

The British also note that heavy bombardment continues, while street fighting is likely to take place on the outskirts of Severodonetsk. Elements of Russia’s Southern Force Group lead probably the most successful axis in the sector, supported by the Central Forces Group attacking from the north. Progress has been slow, but progress is being made, says the British Ministry of Defense.

Pocket access routes are likely to remain under Ukrainian control. Russia achieved greater local success than at the beginning of the campaign by massaging forces and firing in a relatively small area. This forces Russia to accept risks in other parts of the occupied territory, says London. Russia’s political target is likely to occupy the entire territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. To achieve this, Russia will have to pursue other problematic operational objectives beyond Severodonetsk, including the key city of Kramatorsk and the main road M04 Dnipro-Donetsk.

Kuleba, to French counterpart: We are tired of “special solutions” constantly invented for Ukraine

The Ukrainian Foreign Minister told his French counterpart that he was fed up with postponements and special solutions. Dmitro Kuleba called for a concrete and swift response to Ukraine’s application for membership of the European Union. The statement comes in response to Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to create a new structure for accession countries. And another Paris official recently said that Ukraine could only be accepted into the EU in 15-20 years.

Dmitro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister: “You know very well that we in Ukraine are tired of <special solutions>, half measures, <special approaches>, <special models>, which are constantly invented for Ukraine in some “We don’t need special solutions. We don’t need special models. We need a clear, legal statement that Ukraine is part of the European integration project, and such a statement would be a candidate status.”

The first cargo left Mariupol for Russia. Ukraine accuses Russians of robbery 

A cargo ship, loaded with rolled sheet metal, has left the Ukrainian port of Mariupol for Rostov-on-Don (Russia). It is the first merchant ship to leave the port of Mariupol after the conquest of this city by Russian forces, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, announced on Tuesday, informs Reuters. “Today, 2,500 tons of rolled sheet metal rolls have left the port of Mariupol. The ship is heading for Rostov-on-Don,” Denis Pushilin wrote on his Telegram messaging account.

In response, Ukraine estimated that the delivery of metal to Russia from Mariupol, a city whose capture gave Moscow a land link between mainland Russia and the Crimean peninsula, was tantamount to a robbery.

Other two Russian soldiers sentenced to 11 and a half years in prison each in Ukraine for war crimes

A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced two Russian soldiers to 11 and a half years in prison for bombing the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov, Reuters reports. This is the second war crimes verdict since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February.

The two captured Russian soldiers, Alexander Bobikin and Alexander Ivanov, pleaded guilty last week in the second war crimes trial in the conflict. The two Russian soldiers were found guilty of violating the laws and rules of war. In this case, the prosecutor’s office requested a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison, and the court ruled that the two would stay behind bars for 11 and a half years.

Bobkin and Ivanov were part of an artillery unit that fired on targets in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine from Belgorod, Russia. The artillery fire destroyed an educational institution in the city of Derhaci, prosecutors said.

The two Russian soldiers were captured after crossing the border and continued firing. Their unit was attacked by Ukrainian forces, and Bobkin and Ivanov surrendered after hiding for three days.

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