Russian troops making ‘palpable progress’ in Donbas, Boris Johnson warns

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Russian troops making ‘palpable progress’ in Donbas, Boris Johnson warns
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Vladimir Putin’s troops are making “palpable progress” in the Donbas region of Ukraine, Boris Johnson warned on Friday.

The Russian army have been accused of “pounding residential neighbourhoods relentlessly” during an operation to seize two key cities in the industrial east of Ukraine.

The Prime Minister said the Ukrainians had showed “incredible heroism” in pushing the Russians back from the capital Kyiv, but it had caused Putin to focus all of his military might on seizing the Donbas.

“I’m afraid that Putin, at great cost to himself and to Russian military, is continuing to chew through ground in Donbas,” the Prime Minister told Bloomberg TV.

“He’s continuing to make gradual, slow but, I’m afraid, palpable progress and therefore it is absolutely vital that we continue to support the Ukrainians militarily.”

Thousands of Russian soldiers are reportedly attacking from three sides to try to encircle Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

If the two cities straddling the Siverskyi Donets river fall, nearly all of the Donbas province of Luhansk would be under Russian control.

Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk region, wrote on Telegram that “the residents of Severodonetsk have forgotten when was the last time there was silence in the city for at least half an hour”. He stressed that “the Russians are pounding residential neighbourhoods relentlessly”.

Four people have been killed in Severodonetsk over the past 24 hours by Russian shelling, say local officials. Another person was killed by a Russian shell in the village of Komushuvakha.

Severodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk says 60 per cent of the city’s residential buildings have been destroyed, and about 85 to 90 per cent damaged and require major repairs.

Ukraine’s military said 50 towns in Donetsk and Luhansk came under shelling yesterday, with nine civilians killed.

Western military analysts see the battle for the two cities as a potential turning point in the war, now that Russia has redefined its current principal objective as capturing the east.

Russia’s recent gains in the Donbas follow the surrender of Ukraine’s garrison in Mariupol last week, and suggest a shift in momentum after weeks in which Ukrainian forces had advanced near Kharkiv in the northeast.

In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged stronger Western action against Russia to stop the war.

“The catastrophic unfolding events could still be stopped if the world treated the situation in Ukraine as if it were facing the same situation, if the powers that be did not play around with Russia but really pressed to end the war,” he said.

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