Russia controls 80% of Ukraine's key cities, cutting escape routes

LVIV (Ukraine) -- Although Russian troops have taken control of about 80% of Sievierodonetsk, an eastern city that is fiercely contested, they have also destroyed all three of its bridges.

Russia controls 80% of Ukraine's key cities, cutting escape routes

LVIV (Ukraine) -- Although Russian troops have taken control of about 80% of Sievierodonetsk, an eastern city that is fiercely contested, they have also destroyed all three of its bridges. However, a local official stated Tuesday that the Ukrainians were still trying rescue the injured.

Serhiy Haidai the governor of eastern Luhansk said that it was impossible to evacuate all civilians from Sievierodonetsk due to the fighting and relentless shelling. He said that Ukrainian forces were driven to the industrial outskirts by the Russians' use of heavy artillery and scorched earth methods.

He told The Associated Press telephone that there is still a chance for evacuation of the injured, communication with the Ukrainian military, and local residents. He also said that Russian soldiers had not yet blocked the strategic city.

From a pre-war population that was 100,000, approximately 12,000 people still live in Sievierodonetsk. According to Haidai, more than 500 civilians have taken refuge in the Azot chemical facility, which is being attacked by the Russians.

The governor stated that 70 civilians had been evacuated from Luhansk in the last day.

According to a Russian general, Wednesday will see the opening of a humanitarian corridor for civilians fleeing Azot's Azot plant. Col. General Mikhail Mizintsev stated that evacuees will be taken to Svatovo (60 kilometers, 35 miles to the north) in territory controlled by Russian and separatist forces.

According to him, the plan was created after Ukraine requested an evacuation corridor that would lead to its territory.

Ukraine accuses Mizintsev of violating human rights while he commanded troops during the long siege of Mariupol (Ukraine's most important port on the Sea of Azov), which was seized by the Russians.

In the last few weeks, Russian forces have been trying hard to capture Ukraine’s eastern industrial Donbas region. This area borders Russia and includes the regions of Luhansk (and Donetsk).

In his late Tuesday night video address, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President, stated that "the losses are unfortunately painful, but it is necessary to persevere." The enemy will not be able to maintain its aggression if it suffers more losses there. The Donbas is therefore crucial to determining who will be the dominant in the next weeks.

Zelenskyy, as he does every day, pleaded for faster delivery of Western arms. This time, he specifically requested anti-missile defense system.

Hanna Malyar, the Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister, stated Tuesday that the military only had 10% of the Western weapons it requested to "create parity with Russia's army."

Malyar stated in a televised news conference that "No matter how hard Ukraine tries, no matter what professionalism our army is, we will not win this war without the support of Western partners."

She stated that Ukraine uses between 5,000 and 6,000 artillery rounds per day, while Russia uses about 10 times as many.

Recent statements by Ukrainian officials speak of the human cost of war. The fierce fighting in east has turned into an artillery battle, which has seen Kyiv’s forces outgunned, outnumbered, and has resulted in a heavy human loss.

Malyar stated that every day of delay results in more deaths of civilians and soldiers from Ukraine. Malyar stated that the situation was very difficult and she could not wait for too long.

The conflict is now in its fourth month. The battle for Donbas could determine the course of war.

Russia will win and Ukraine will lose its land, as well as the bulk of its most skilled military forces. This could allow Moscow to seize more territory and dictate terms to Kyiv.

However, a Russian failure could lead to a Ukrainian counteroffensive and possibly political turmoil for the Kremlin.

Jan Egeland is the secretary-general for the Norwegian Refugee Council. This aid organization supplies food to civilians in Donbas. However, he said that fighting over the past weeks made it impossible to distribute food regularly. He stated that the aid supplies for the civilians remaining in Sievierodonetsk have been cut off almost completely since the destruction of the bridge.

The Russian army is strengthening its position in the northeastern Kharkiv area, while the Ukrainian forces are also suffering, Zelenskyy stated. He said, "And we still have to fight, to fight very hard for the total security of Kharkiv's region."

According to Tuesday's intelligence update by the U.K. Defense Ministry (UK Defense Ministry), Russian forces may have made small gains in Kharkiv for the first time in several days.

A military official from Ukraine said that two Russian cruise missiles were shot down by the air defense of the country. They were targeting Odesa, Ukraine’s main port on Black Sea.

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AUTOTHER DEVELOPMENTS

U.S. President Joe Biden said he is working with European partners to bring 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain to international markets. The grain is currently being held back from Black Sea ports because of Russia's invasion.

He stated Tuesday that the plan would include temporary storage silos at Ukraine's border to address the problem of different rail gauges used by European and Ukrainian railway systems.

Biden stated that Ukraine has a rail system similar to Russia's, with a gauge that is different from the rest of Europe's tracks. So we are going to build temporary silos in the Ukraine's borders, as well as in Poland. We can then transfer it from the cars to those silos into European cars and transport it across the ocean. It takes time.

Ukraine is a major exporter of sunflower oil, wheat, and corn. Inflation and food shortages around the world are being exacerbated by a lack of Ukrainian grain available on international markets. Many Middle Eastern and African countries heavily rely on Ukrainian grain, and may have problems feeding their populations without it.

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According to U.N. officials who visited Ukraine last week, nearly two-thirds (or almost) of Ukraine's children were displaced during the conflict.

Afshan Khan said Tuesday that the war in Ukraine was a crisis for child rights. She is the Europe and Central Asia director of UNICEF, U.N.'s children's agency.

Khan stated that 277 children were killed and 456 were injured in Ukraine by explosives. This was mainly due to urban explosions. Khan stated that the number of schools destroyed is likely to be in the thousands and that only 25% of schools are operational in Ukraine.

Since February's Russian invasion, millions of Ukrainian children and women have fled their country.

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On Tuesday, the French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Romania to meet French troops stationed there in response to Russia's invasion.

Macron's visit in Romania, which is a member of the European Union since 2007, and a NATO member from 2004, marked the start of a regional tour. This includes a Wednesday visit to Moldova (non-NATO). Both countries have long borders with Ukraine.

Macron stated that "Nobody knows what lies ahead for us in these coming weeks and months", but he said that he would do everything to stop the Russian invasion, help Ukrainians, and continue negotiations at the eastern Mihail Kogalniceanu base. He was also greeted by Nicolae Ciuca, the Romanian Prime Minister.

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According to the Kremlin, Russia is open to considering a U.K. appeal regarding the fate of two Britons who were sentenced to death in connection with fighting for Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, said that neither Moscow nor pro-Russian separatists from eastern Ukraine had received information from London about the issue.

Peskov stated that you need to contact the authorities of the country where the verdict was passed, which is not Russia. "But, of necessity, everything will depend upon appeals from London. The Russian side will, I'm sure, be open to listening."

Britons Aiden Aslin, Sean Pinner and Brahim Saadoun from Morocco were accused of being mercenaries to Ukraine in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

Separatist authorities stated that all three of them had one month to appeal their sentences. Kyiv pledged to work with Russia to get their release.

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Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled energy company, said Tuesday that Russian natural gas supplies through a major pipeline to Europe would drop by about 40% this year. This is after Canadian sanctions on the war in Ukraine, which prevented Siemens Energy, the German partner, from delivering overhauled equipment.

The German utility network agency, the Federal Network Agency, stated that it does not consider gas supplies to be in danger. Accordingly to the German news agency dpa, reduced flow through Nord Stream 1 under the Baltic Sea was consistent with commercial behavior and Russia’s earlier announced cutoff of gas supply to Denmark and the Netherlands. The Federal Network Agency stated that it was monitoring the situation.

The rise in spot gas prices in Europe is a sign that there are concerns about the possible effects of the war against Russian gas supplies, which power industry and generates electricity across the continent.

The European Union has laid out plans to cut dependence on Russian gas by a third by the end of this year. Economists believe that a total cutoff would be devastating for the economy, consumers, and gas-intensive sectors.

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According to Russia's foreign ministry, dozens of British media and defense officials have been barred from entering Russia.

Tuesday's statement by the ministry stated that the ban on 29 journalists was in response to the British media's "deliberate publication of false and unbalanced information" about Russia and the war in Ukraine.

This list contained senior editors and correspondents from the BBC, the Times and Guardian newspapers.

Twenty other people were also banned, including Britain's navy chief and a junior defence minister as well as senior executives from defense and aerospace companies Thales UK (BAE Systems).

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After Volodymyr Zelenskyy's invitation, the prime ministers of NATO member Montenegro and Albania are headed for Kyiv.

Albania's Edi RAMA announced his trip via social media. He posted a photo showing him board a plane Tuesday with Montenegro’s Dritan Abazovic.

Both Balkan countries condemned Russia's invasion in Ukraine and joined the sanctions against Moscow.

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Ukrainian authorities announced Tuesday that they received the remains from 64 Azovstal steel plant defenders in Mariupol as part of the latest body swap with Russia.

According to the Ministry for Reintegration of Occupied Territories, the exchange took places in Zaporizhzhia. However, it didn't specify how many bodies were returned.

This was just one of many swaps that the warring parties have made. Moscow and Kyiv had exchanged 160 bodies earlier this month. Moscow did not immediately confirm the Tuesday swap as reported by Ukraine.

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Follow the AP's coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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