Battle for the Donbas region heats up as the shelling continues, Russia claims to “liberate” the Donbas and Luhansk regions. “The liberation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions” is Moscow’s “top priority,” according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. In an interview with the French channel TFI, Lavrov stated that the Russian Federation now recognizes the two districts as separate entities. “Of course, our obvious goal is to drive the Ukrainian army and battalions out of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces,” he stated.
Russian bombardment into the northern Ukrainian counties of Sumy and Chernihiv has resumed, according to the Ukrainian military. “The enemy’s main purpose in the districts of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk is to surround our soldiers and restrict the main supplies routes,” the Ukrainian General Staff of the Armed Forces warned. Russian forces are also “trying to gain a footing on the northeastern outskirts of Severodonetsk, undertaking assault operations in the direction of the city center,” according to the statement.
After defending the Azovstal factory in a long siege, two spouses and a girlfriend of Ukrainian troops taken by Russian forces or unaccounted for told CNN they had little or no information about their loved ones’ location. With the surrender of the facility, the beleaguered Ukrainian port city of Mariupol fell completely under Russian control earlier this month. The number of Ukrainian troops in Russian custody is unknown, however, the Russian military claims that around 2,000 Ukrainian troops have surrendered. Azovstal defenders have been labeled “Nazis” by Russian state propaganda, creating severe concerns about how they will be handled in captivity.
In an interview with the French channel TFI, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that driving the Ukrainian army out of the Donbas region is a top goal for Moscow.