Russia presses eastern Ukraine, Zelensky says situation ‘very difficult’

KRAMATORSK – Russia pressed its onslaught on eastern Ukraine Sunday, saying it had captured the strategic town of Lyman and claiming to have surrounded the urban center of Severodonetsk.

“The situation is very difficult, especially in those areas in Donbas and Kharkiv region, where the Russian army is trying to squeeze at least some result for itself,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening address.

His remarks came as Russia, in another exercise in military muscle-flexing, said it had successfully tested hypersonic missiles in the Arctic.

A Ukrainian official denied Moscow’s claim that Severodonetsk had been encircled, saying government troops had repelled Russian forces from the outskirts of the key city.

After setbacks in its attacks on Kyiv and Kharkiv, Russia has been waging all-out war for the eastern Donbas — Ukraine’s industrial heartland, where Zelensky has accused Moscow of carrying out a “genocide” and where another Ukrainian official denounced Russia’s “scorched-earth tactics”.

“The town of Krasny Liman has been entirely liberated from Ukrainian nationalists,” the Russian defence ministry said Saturday, using Moscow’s name for Lyman and confirming an announcement made a day earlier by pro-Moscow separatists.

Lyman lies on the road to Severodonetsk and Kramatorsk.

After setbacks in its attacks on Kyiv and Kharkiv, Russia waging all-out war for eastern Donbas

Russian forces have been closing in on Severodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk in Lugansk province.

Regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said Russian shelling continued on Severodonetsk as Ukrainian soldiers fought to oust the invading forces from a hotel on its edges.

A Lugansk police official cited by Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti said late Friday that Severodonetsk was “now surrounded”.

But Gaiday told Ukrainian television that “Severodonetsk has not been cut off… there is still the possibility to deliver humanitarian aid.”

Regional officials on Saturday reported the deaths of three civilians at Russian hands, one each in the eastern towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, and one in the southern city of Mykolaiv.

“Ukraine will definitely win this war,” Zelensky told Dutch television station NOS.

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