Ukraine Forces Battle In ‘Dead Cities’
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Between massive death and destruction, Ukrainian forces were still holding out in the eastern city of Severodonetsk despite being outnumbered by Russian forces, Ukraine’s president said.
Speaking Monday, wartime President Volodymyr Zelensky, who earlier visited the front lines, said both sides fought for the city in street-by-street battles as artillery shells rained from above.
The intensity of fighting there and in nearby Lysychansk has made them both “dead cities,” Zelensky said.
If captured, the two strategic targets would deliver Russian forces to the entire Luhansk region in Ukraine’s east.
Since pulling its forces back from the Kyiv region in March, Russia has refocused its military efforts on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas, its industrial heartland.
Zelensky also warned that Russian troops intended to capture the city of Zaporizhzhia, a large industrial hub in the southeast of the country. That would enable Russian forces to advance closer to central areas. “There are more of them, they are more powerful, but we have every chance to fight in this direction,” he said.
The president thanked Britain and the U.S. for supplying Ukraine with multiple-launch rocket systems that can strike targets up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) away.
The Ukrainian navy also said Monday it has pushed back a fleet of Russian warships more than 100 kilometers from its Black Sea coast, though Moscow did not yet confirm this.
As battles raged, Russia began handing over bodies of Ukrainian fighters killed at the Azovstal steelworks, the fortress-like plant in the destroyed city of Mariupol.
Dozens of bodies were transferred to Kyiv, where DNA testing was underway to identify the remains, officials say.
However, life isn’t getting back to normal in captured Mariupol, with Kyiv saying Russians have shut down the southern port city for quarantine over a possible cholera outbreak.
Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said the Russian-occupied city is bracing itself for an epidemic as dead bodies and litter are piling up in the town.
MOUNTING DEATH TOLL
With a mounting death toll also among Russian troops, the Kremlin is feeling pressured by families left behind to answer questions and grant compensation.
On Monday, families of Russian national guard members who died in Ukraine and Syria were told by Moscow they would receive a one-time payment of 5 million rubles ($80,000).
Death isn’t the only worry faced by those suffering in Europe’s most significant military conflict since World War Two: Sexual violence in Ukraine also remains prevalent and underreported.
Russia’s invasion is “turning into a human trafficking crisis,” according to the United Nations. “Women and children fleeing the conflict are being targeted for trafficking and exploitation,” said Pramila Patten, the United Nations special representative on sexual violence.
However, she told a UN security council on Monday: “Sexual violence is the most consistently and massively under-reported violation.”
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