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Fighting rages in two key eastern Ukrainian cities


BAKHMUT, Ukraine (AP) — Block-by-block fighting raged Friday in two key eastern Ukrainian cities Friday, the 100th day of Russia's war, slowly grinding them to rubble.

Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said fierce battles continued in Sievierodonetsk, where about 13,000 remaining residents took shelter in basements to escape relentless Russian bombardment.

Haidai said Russian forces also pummeled neighboring Lysychansk. Some 20,000 residents remain there — about one-fifth of Lysychansk’s prewar population — even though Russian shelling has shattered 60% of the residential buildings and civilian infrastructure, authorities said. A civilian was killed in the shelling there on Friday, Haidai said.

Russian forces have been trying to encircle Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, the only two cities in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province not controlled by Russian forces or Moscow-backed separatists. Luhansk and Donetsk provinces make up the Donbas, the eastern industrial region that Russia is intent on capturing.

Britain's Defense Ministry said Russia now controls more than 90% of Luhansk and is likely to take it over completely in the next two weeks.

Mykola Sunhurovsky of the Razumkov Center, a Kyiv-based think tank, said that because of Ukrainian resistance, the Russian offensive in the region has started to slow, and "they have lost too many forces and need a tactical break.”

He said that “time is working in Ukraine’s favor as supplies of Western weapons are increasing, making the Kremlin nervous."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian troops have succeeded in their main stated task of protecting civilians in the separatist-controlled areas.

Russia controls almost one-fifth of the country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said this week. But Zelenskyy remained defiant in a video message marking 100 days of war.

“We have defended Ukraine for 100 days already,” he said. "Victory will be ours!”

Russia, Ukraine


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