Fighting rages as Russia eyes protracted war in Ukraine

Russia is now focused on securing and expanding its gains in the eastern Donbass region

Russia signaled on Tuesday that it was preparing for a long war in Ukraine as the conflict entered its fourth month with heavy fighting in the east but signs of some normality returning elsewhere.

“We will continue the special military operation until all goals are achieved,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, using Moscow’s name for the war.

Russia is now focused on securing and expanding its gains in the eastern Donbass region, near the border and home to pro-Russian separatists, as well as on the southern coast.

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“The next few weeks of the war will be difficult,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday after regional leaders and residents reported heavy shelling.

Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian troops were carrying out non-stop “offensive operations” in the region.

– Too late to leave –

“We don’t want to provoke them because then the Russians will start shooting at us even harder.”

Sergiy Gaidai warned around 15,000 civilians still in the city that it was too late to leave.

He later said four people died on Tuesday after Russian forces fired on the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk, where several bomb shelters had been set up.

More than six million people have fled Ukraine and eight million have been displaced since the start of the war, according to the United Nations.

– Kharkiv metro reopens –

kyiv has pleaded with Western allies to send more weapons faster and to take tougher action against Moscow.

However, he said he expected a “turning point” by August as they passed, in an interview with Ukrainska Pravda.

The EU has proposed a ban on Russian oil imports, although Hungary is blocking the measure.

“We have decided to restart services because we need to revive the economy,” Mayor Igor Terekhov told reporters, adding that train rides would be free for the next two weeks.

Kharkiv’s metro, with 30 stations, has been home to thousands of residents seeking to escape the indiscriminate bombardment of the city, which is adjacent to the Russian border.

In Mariupol, the strategic southern port city that finally fell after a devastating siege, the Russian military said it had started a mine clearance operation.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said 100,000 people were without water, food, electricity.

Referring to the estimated death toll in Ukraine following the siege of Mariupol, he said: “We see that the war has already claimed the lives of 20,000 people and that epidemics could claim the lives of thousands more.” .

A kyiv court on Monday found a 21-year-old Russian soldier guilty of murdering an unarmed civilian in northeastern Ukraine, in the first such verdict since the invasion began.

burs-ar/jm

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