Ukraine war: Zelensky says Russia controls a fifth of Ukrainian territoryon June 2, 2022 at 5:05 pm

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Ukraine’s president says Russia has taken 20% of Ukraine’s territory, as the war nears its 100th day.

A Russian soldier in Mariupol

Image source, Reuters

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Russian forces have seized 20% of his country’s territory, as Moscow’s invasion nears its 100th day.

Addressing lawmakers in Luxembourg, he added that the front line extended for more than 1,000km (621 miles).

“All combat-ready Russian military formations are involved in this aggression,” he told MPs via videolink.

Mr Zelensky’s address comes as Moscow intensifies attacks on the city of Severodonetsk in the Donbas region.

UK defence officials say that Russian forces have seized control of most of the city and observe that Moscow “continues to make steady local gains, enabled by a heavy concentration of artillery”.

Severodonetsk is the last major city in the region that remains in Kyiv’s hands and Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said Russian forces were trying to break through Ukrainian defences in the city “from all directions”.

A map of Severodonetsk

Mr Haidai said Moscow’s forces controlled around 80% of the city but Ukrainian troops had “carried out counter-attacks, pushing back the enemy on some streets and taking several prisoners”.

He added that intense street-to-street fighting in the city had hampered evacuations, describing such efforts as “extremely dangerous”.

Some 15,000 civilians remain trapped in Severodonetsk, with many of them taking shelter at the massive Azot chemical plant.

On Wednesday, Mr Zelensky accused Russia of “madness” after its troops allegedly targeted the site during an artillery barrage.

Volodymyr Zelensky

Image source, Getty Images

The fighting comes as the mayor of the occupied city of Mariupol accused Russian forces of executing civil servants who have refused to collaborate with the new Moscow-backed city authority.

Vadym Boychenko, who was evacuated from Mariupol before it fell, said dozens of residents were being held at the Olenivka Prison and that he had received reports of locals being tortured by occupying forces. The BBC cannot independently verify these allegations.

Last week an adviser to Mr Boychenko told CNN that at least 22,000 people had been killed during the siege that reduced the port city to rubble.

Elsewhere, Russia wounded five civilians during missile strikes on cities in the Lviv region in western Ukraine, regional head Maksym Kozytskyi said.

And Moscow’s forces shelled the north-eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, killing a woman and wounding a man, according to regional officials.

President Vladimir Putin

Image source, Getty Images

Western leaders are also stepping up sanctions against key allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

US Treasury Department officials unveiled a new raft of sanctions on Thursday, with targets including several yachts allegedly linked to Mr Putin and a cellist who allegedly acts as a middleman for the Russian leader.

US officials will seek to seize two vessels, the Russian-flagged Graceful and the Cayman islands-flagged Olympia, which were identified as personal assets of Mr Putin.

The cellist, Sergei Roldugin, is allegedly a custodian of the Russian president’s offshore wealth.

The 70-year-old was joined by five oligarchs with links to Mr Putin, as well as Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who will all see any US assets frozen and are barred from doing business with American-based corporations.

EU diplomats are said to have finalised a sixth package of sanctions against Moscow.

The sanctions, which include a limited ban on Russian oil imports, were reportedly agreed after officials accepted a Hungarian request to remove the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, from the list of targets.

The president of the European Parliament also announced a ban on Russian lobbyists entering the chamber’s campus.

Roberta Metsola wrote on Twitter that she was keen to deprive Moscow’s representatives of the ability “to spread their propaganda & false, toxic narratives about the invasion of Ukraine”.

A British army M270 multiple-rocket system fires during a training exercise

Image source, Reuters

A top aide to President Zelensky says the UK has agreed to supply the M270 multiple-rocket system (MLRS) to Ukraine, seen as a military game-changer by experts.

Andriy Yermak, Mr Zelensky’s chief of staff, wrote on Telegram that the weapons “not only help [us] liberate all our territories but also prevent many threats to the West”.

Slovakia’s defence ministry announced it would deliver eight self-propelled Zuzana 2 Howitzers to Ukraine.

The cannon, a modernised version of an older model, uses 155-mm rounds and has an effective range of 40-50km (25-30 miles) depending on the ammunition type.

And the Turkish drone manufacturer, Baykar, has donated a Bayraktar TB2 drone to Lithuania, on the understanding it will be given to Ukraine to help fight Russian forces.

Bayraktar TB2 drone

Image source, Getty Images

Baykar said it had donated the drone for free so that money raised in Lithuania to buy it would be given instead as humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that the US would supply Ukraine with new long-range missiles capable of hitting targets at distances of up to 70km (45 miles).

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the US and its allies of intentionally prolonging the war and of “adding fuel to the fire” with the deliveries.

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