Zelensky erupts over shortage of supplies for one of most brutal battles in Europe

Zelensky calls for ‘sufficient’ supplies to Ukraine

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In an overnight address, President Volodymyr Zelensky has described Ukraine’s battle for the eastern Donbas region as one of the most brutal in European history. Mr Zelensky went on to stress the Ukrainian military’s need for greater firepower to combat Russia, saying “only a sufficient number of modern artillery will ensure our advantage.”

Mr Zelensky said: “The battles in Donbas will surely go down in military history as one of the most brutal battles in Europe.

“We draw the attention of our partners on a daily basis to the fact that only sufficient number of modern artillery for Ukraine will ensure our advantage.

“And end the Russian torture of Ukrainian Donbas.”

Ukraine said on Tuesday its forces were still holding out inside Sievierodonetsk and trying to evacuate civilians after Russia destroyed the last bridge to the devastated eastern city in a potential turning point in one of the war’s bloodiest battles.

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“The situation is very difficult but there is communication with the city” despite the last bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river having been destroyed, said the Ukrainian mayor of Sievierodonetsk, Oleksandr Stryuk.

“Russian troops are trying to storm the city, but the military is holding firm.”

Ukraine says more than 500 civilians are trapped inside a chemical factory in an industrial zone of the city where its forces have resisted weeks of Russian bombardment and assault.

Evacuations were still being carried out “every minute when there is a lull and there is a possibility of transportation,” Stryuk said, “But these are discrete evacuations, done one by one, and every possible chance is taken.”

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Both sides claim to have inflicted huge casualties in the fighting over the city, Russia’s main target in its battle for the east after it failed to capture Ukraine’s capital Kyiv in March.

Ukraine still holds Lysychansk, Sievierodonetsk’s twin city on higher ground on the opposite bank. But with all the bridges now cut, its forces acknowledge a risk they could be encircled if they remain. Russia’s separatist proxies said any Ukrainian troops left behind must surrender or die.

Damien Megrou, spokesperson for a unit of foreign volunteers helping to defend Sievierodonetsk, said there was a risk of leaving “a large pocket of Ukrainian defenders cut off from the rest of the Ukrainian troops” – as in Mariupol which fell in May after months of Russian siege.

Kyiv has said it is losing a staggering 100-200 soldiers killed each day, with hundreds more wounded.

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Russia gives no regular figures of its own losses but Western countries say they have been massive, as Moscow has committed the bulk of its firepower to deliver one of President Vladimir Putin’s stated objectives: forcing Kyiv to cede the full territory of two eastern provinces.

Momentum in Sievierodonetsk has shifted several times over the past few weeks – with Russia concentrating its overwhelming artillery firepower on urban districts to obliterate resistance, then sending in footsoldiers vulnerable to counter-attacks.

Bigger battles could lie ahead for the wider Ukrainian-held pocket of the Donbas, nearly all on the opposite bank of the river that Russian forces have found difficult to cross.

Ukraine says Russia is massing to assault Sloviansk from the north and along a front near Bakhmut to the south.

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