Russia-Ukraine war: fierce fighting in Sievierodonetsk after chemical plant sheltering civilians hit – live


Fierce fighting in Sievierodonetsk after chemical plant sheltering civilians hit

Fighting is continuing in the city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, where Russian shelling caused a huge fire at a chemical plant yesterday.

In a video address on Sunday the regional head of the area has said fighting was ongoing.

Serhiy Haidai said Saturday’s blaze started after tens of tonnes of oil leaked from damaged radiators at the Azot plant.

Hundreds of civilians were taking shelter at the plant. Haidai did not say if the blaze had been brought under control.

⚡️Luhansk Oblast Governor: Intense fighting continues in Sievierodonetsk.

In his video address on June 12, Luhansk Oblast Governor Serhiy Haidai said fighting continues in the key eastern city of Sievierodonetsk.

— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) June 12, 2022

The governor said the situation remained very difficult in the village of Toshkivka, on the northwestern outskirts of Sievierodonetsk. But he added that Ukrainian forces had successfully blocked Russia’s advance near Popasna, according to the Kyiv Independent.

On Saturday Haidai admitted most of Sievierodonetsk was now under Russian control. The Russian military said that all of Sievierodonetsk’s residential areas were under its control.

Ukrainian officials estimate that as many as 800 civilians are hiding in underground bomb shelters at the Azot plant.

Also on Saturday Haidai said the situation in Sievierodonetsk was “difficult, but under control”.

The Luhansk regional head said:

Our soldiers are winning in street fights, but, unfortunately, the enemy’s artillery is simply dismantling – floor-by-floor – the houses used by our troops as shelters.

So, when we push the enemy out of one street, they start using their tanks and artillery to destroy the area house-by-house.

Sievierodonetsk is currently the epicentre of Russian efforts to advance in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has lasted more than three months.

Following its failure to capture Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Russian offensives have focused instead on taking the Luhansk and the Donetsk regions – a large, industrial area known as Donbas.

Taking Sievierodonetsk and its twin city of Lysychansk would give them control over Luhansk.

The friend of a Moroccan soldier condemned to death for fighting Russian forces alongside two Britons has described the sentence as “inhuman”.

The Press Association reports:

Saaudun Brahim, a 21-year-old originally from Casablanca, Morocco, was sentenced to death in a Russia proxy court alongside Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner on Thursday.

Dmytro Khrabstov, 20, is one of a group of Mr Brahim’s friends from Kyiv’s underground club scene who have been working to raise awareness about his situation and campaigning for his release with the hashtag SaveBrahim on social media.

Khrabstov said Brahim is known to friends in the Ukrainian capital as “Brian” and joined the Ukrainian military last summer when he told them he wanted to “die as a hero”.

Khrabstov told the PA news agency:

[He] is a bright and enthusiastic guy, dreaming about the technology of the future and how he could change things. He told me and a few other guys that he wants to die as a hero.

There is no place in this world for execution. It’s inhuman. I (have) lost all words.

Brahim was studying at the Institute of Aerospace Technologies at the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute when the pair met at a club in Kyiv’s Podil District in January 2021.

Khrabstov said:

Not all students who come here at 20 years old are going into the military to defend somebody else’s border.

As he described it to me, and as I feel it myself, (he is not) a common human being who is happy doing an office job.

He felt himself a warrior, a defender; that’s why he wanted to join the military. He wanted to become a part of it.

Brahim joined the 36th Separate Marines Brigade – the same group as the two Britons Pinner and Aslin.

Brahim left Kyiv to go to the east of the country in November 2021.

On February 24, he wrote on Instagram that his position in Mariupol was being hit with Grad multiple rocket launchers.

Khrabstov said that the last time the two were in touch was the end of March:

He told me that he was in a complicated situation and was surrounded, but that he was in a defensive position.

Two weeks later, Khrabstov saw a video posted online of Brahim being interrogated after his capture.

Khrabstov and his friends are calling on the Ukrainian government to grant citizenship to foreigners helping to defend the country against Russian aggression.

An online petition on the issue has amassed 13,100 votes so far and points to the vulnerable position of foreign fighters from Belarus and other countries, who are less likely to be considered eligible by Russia for prisoner swaps.

Khrabstov said:

We’re trying to help our friend, help our defenders. They feel they need to be there, they have a sense of justice… and we need to do our job and not look (away).

He described the media coverage of the men’s sentencing as “a difficult political game”, and said Russia has “gained too much value” from the capture of foreigners serving in the Ukrainian army:

[The Russians] are raising their value by providing the information that they were captured, are in jail, that they could get executed. They are just blackmailing us.

Khrabstov described his time with Brahim in Kyiv:

We met almost every weekend. It was common to take a car to a lake, with a company of 10 friends, have a BBQ, have some rest.

The moment he decided to join our military, I told him that I do not have any doubt you will survive, and that I will see you at least one more time, that we will meet each other and have a good party with all of our friends.

It’s not the thing (we should do) when I’m 20 and you’re 21.

Fierce fighting in Sievierodonetsk after chemical plant sheltering civilians hit

Fighting is continuing in the city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, where Russian shelling caused a huge fire at a chemical plant yesterday.

In a video address on Sunday the regional head of the area has said fighting was ongoing.

Serhiy Haidai said Saturday’s blaze started after tens of tonnes of oil leaked from damaged radiators at the Azot plant.

Hundreds of civilians were taking shelter at the plant. Haidai did not say if the blaze had been brought under control.

⚡️Luhansk Oblast Governor: Intense fighting continues in Sievierodonetsk.

In his video address on June 12, Luhansk Oblast Governor Serhiy Haidai said fighting continues in the key eastern city of Sievierodonetsk.

— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) June 12, 2022

The governor said the situation remained very difficult in the village of Toshkivka, on the northwestern outskirts of Sievierodonetsk. But he added that Ukrainian forces had successfully blocked Russia’s advance near Popasna, according to the Kyiv Independent.

On Saturday Haidai admitted most of Sievierodonetsk was now under Russian control. The Russian military said that all of Sievierodonetsk’s residential areas were under its control.

Ukrainian officials estimate that as many as 800 civilians are hiding in underground bomb shelters at the Azot plant.

Also on Saturday Haidai said the situation in Sievierodonetsk was “difficult, but under control”.

The Luhansk regional head said:

Our soldiers are winning in street fights, but, unfortunately, the enemy’s artillery is simply dismantling – floor-by-floor – the houses used by our troops as shelters.

So, when we push the enemy out of one street, they start using their tanks and artillery to destroy the area house-by-house.

Sievierodonetsk is currently the epicentre of Russian efforts to advance in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has lasted more than three months.

Following its failure to capture Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Russian offensives have focused instead on taking the Luhansk and the Donetsk regions – a large, industrial area known as Donbas.

Taking Sievierodonetsk and its twin city of Lysychansk would give them control over Luhansk.

Russian gas producer Gazprom said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was seen at 41.9 million cubic metres (mcm) on Sunday, unchanged from Saturday, Reuters reports.

An application to supply gas via another major entry point, Sokhranovka, was rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said.

Meanwhile Ukraine remains in control of the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk where hundreds of civilians are sheltering, the region’s governor said on Sunday.

“Azot is not blocked, fighting is going on in the streets next to the plant,” Serhiy Gaidai said on Ukraine’s television.

He added that he expects Russian forces to use all their efforts to try to capture the city either on Sunday or on Monday.

My thanks to Helen, who has been at the helm. This is Lexy Topping and I’ll be keeping you up to date this morning from the UK.

Dan Sabbagh

Dan Sabbagh

Ukraine’s war with Russia is heading towards its fifth month amid increasing local concern that dwindling media attention could lead to a gradual loss of western support just as Moscow is making slow but steady gains on the frontline.

The anxiety reflects a growing normalisation of the conflict in which large parts of the country feel distant from the war in eastern Donbas – as it becomes clear that casualties are mounting and economic costs soaring. “It’s a very real threat, that people get tired psychologically,” said Lesia Vasylenko, an opposition MP with the liberal Holos party.

International media coverage has dropped markedly in the past two months, she added, and “as that number goes down further, there’s a very high risk of the support from the west going down”.

Ukraine has become increasingly dependent on western help as the war has continued, both in terms of weaponry and humanitarian support, and will need international aid money to help rebuild towns and cities destroyed by the Russians in the early phase of fighting. Its treasury is bare.

Russia, meanwhile, appears close to taking the shattered Donbas city of Sievierodonetsk, after a failed counterattack by Ukraine’s forces.

Read more here:

A really interesting story here from AFP, on Dmytro Firtash, a sanctioned Ukrainian oligarch who says he now supporting the war effort.

Sanctioned by Ukraine in the past over his close ties to Russia, Dmytro Firtash, one of the country’s wealthiest citizens, made international headlines this week for saying he is sheltering hundreds of Ukrainians in his chemical factory.

“This war is completely pointless and cannot be justified in any way, it only brings suffering and misery on all sides. This humanitarian tragedy is intolerable,” the 57-year-old said in a statement on his company’s website.

A one-time ally of ousted pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, Firtash, who is currently in Austria and fighting extradition to the US on bribery accusations, has a controversial history. In June 2021, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree imposing sanctions on Firtash, including the freezing of his assets and withdrawal of licences from his companies, after accusing him of selling titanium products to Russian military companies.

But now some 800 civilians, including 200 factory workers, have taken refuge in the bunkers of the Azot chemical plant, owned by Firtash’s Group DF, in Ukraine’s strategic eastern city of Severodonetsk, the tycoon’s lawyer Lanny Davis said this week.

Russian troops have been pushing for control of the key city over the past weeks as part of their effort to conquer eastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “is never going to come out victorious… No matter what happens, Russia will lose,” Firtash said in an NBC News interview in April.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Firtash’s Inter has also joined the pool of several main Ukrainian news channels, which broadcast news 24/7 and fully reflect the official position of the Ukrainian authorities. Before the invasion, Inter, one of the largest Ukrainian national TV channels, was considered pro-Russian. Firtash insists he has always been pro-Ukrainian, telling NBC that he was “never pro-Russian”.

“But you have to understand that I am a businessman. And my goal is to earn money. That’s my job,” he said in the interview.

Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash in a file photo taken on 25 June, 2019
Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash in a file photo taken on 25 June, 2019 Photograph: Herbert Neubauer/APA/AFP/Getty Images

An AFP request to interview Firtash is pending.

Firtash is also wanted on bribery and racketeering charges in the United States. In the case, Indian officials allegedly received $18.5 million in bribes to secure titanium mining licences in 2006. Firtash, who denies the charges and says he is the victim of a smear campaign, was detained in Austria in March 2014.

He had to pay bail of 125 million euros ($130 million) – reportedly a record high for Austria – and has since not been able to leave the country. Austria’s supreme court ruled in 2019 that he could be extradited. But Firtash is still fighting the extradition and can remain in Austria while court proceedings continue.

In an interview with CNN in May, Firtash said he had requested prosecutors to be allowed to return to Ukraine while the war is going on – but his request was denied.

He has also been accused of being involved in alleged efforts by Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and a personal lawyer of former US president Donald Trump, to dig up dirt on Joe Biden before he became president, but Firtash denies ever having met with Giuliani.

Ukraine’s armed forces has released its daily statement on Russian military losses. The Guardian has not independently verified these claims, but they are as follows:

Since the beginning of the invasion, about 32,150 Russian soldiers have been killed. Among military assets Ukraine claims to have destroyed about 1430 tanks, 2455 tank trucks and other automotive equipment, 3484 armoured vehicles, about 1,000 artillery systems, multiple rocket launcher systems, and other air defence assets, 212 aircraft, 178 helicopters and almost 600 drones, 13 sea vessels and 125 cruise missiles.

Of those stats, about 100 soldier deaths, and the destruction of 11 tanks, 18 APVs and a half a dozen other assets were recorded in the last day.

The statement said Russia suffered its greatest losses in the Severodonetsk and Bakhmut regions.

As of 12 June, more than 795 children have been killed or injured in Ukraine, the country’s government has said in its regular update.

It said at least 287 children had died, and 508 injured in the conflict, adding the caveat that confirmation of incidents was difficult in areas of active hostilities and the occupied territories.

The report said most of those affected were in Donetsk (2017 children), Kharkiv (149), and Kyiv (116).

The latest from Ukraine

Welcome to our rolling coverage of the war in Ukraine.

  • Bitter fighting is raging in Sievierodonetsk but Ukraine remains in control of an industrial area and chemical plant in the eastern city where hundreds of civilians are sheltering from incessant Russian shelling, the region’s governor says. Ukraine has said about 800 people were hiding in several bomb shelters underneath the Azot plant, including about 200 employees and 600 residents of Sievierodonetsk.
  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Ukraine’s military was gradually liberating territory further west in the Kherson region and had some successes in Zaporizhzhia, too.
  • The EU executive will this week make a recommendation on whether Ukraine should be given candidate status, the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen has said during a surprise visit to Kyiv on Saturday. Such a recommendation would be a step on a long road to full membership. Speaking alongside Von der Leyen, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said that the EU’s decision on Ukraine would “determine” the future of Europe.
  • The US president, Joe Biden, has said that Volodymyr Zelenskiy “didn’t want to hear” warnings of the Russian invasion. Speaking at a fundraising reception in Los Angeles, Biden said “there was no doubt” Vladimir Putin had been planning to “go in”. “I knew we had data to sustain [Putin] was going to go in, off the border. There was no doubt … and Zelenskiy didn’t want to hear it.”
  • The family of a British man sentenced to death for fighting Russian forces have said they are “devastated” and called for “urgent cooperation” to secure his release.
  • Russia’s military has set up another field hospital due to heavy casualties, Kyiv Independent reports. It is in the village of Shebekino in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, according to the general staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
  • A United Nations commission arrived in Ukraine on Saturday to investigate war crimes. The deputy speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, Olena Kondratyuk, said the commission’s goal was to record war crimes and human rights violations.
  • Approximately 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia’s invasion of the country in February, according to a military adviser to Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He added that in terms of daily Ukrainian casualties, around “200 to 300 die, no less”.
  • The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, is planning a visit to Kyiv alongside the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi. The leaders want to meet Volodymyr Zelenskiy prior to the G7 summit.




Reference-www.theguardian.com

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