Is Ukraine losing the artillery war in Donbas?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said defending the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine was “vital” as the outcome would indicate “who will dominate in the coming weeks” of the war.  “Hanging in there in Donbas is crucial,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram in his daily address to the Ukrainian people.  Russian forces have made recent advances in the Donbas and control most of the Luhansk region, with fighting incredibly intense in the city of Severodonetsk.  Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Wednesday on Twitter that Russian forces were now in control of the city of Sievierodonetsk.  Elements of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and several hundred civilians are sheltering in underground bunkers in Azot Chemical Plant in the city, the report added.  Russia told Ukrainian forces holed up in the chemical plant to lay down their arms by early Wednesday.

Russia told Ukrainian forces deployed at a chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk to “stop their senseless resistance and lay down arms” from 8 a.m.  Moscow time (0500 GMT),” on Wednesday, Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, told the Interfax news agency.  Civilians would be allowed to leave through a humanitarian corridor, he added.  Ukraine says more than 500 civilians are currently trapped alongside soldiers inside the Azot chemical factory, where its forces have defied weeks of Russian bombardment and assaults that have reduced much of the embattled city of Sievierodonetsk to ruins.

The West needs to send Ukraine “more heavy weapons” as it battles Russia’s “brutal invasion,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

NATO was already “stepping up” deliveries, and officials would be meeting in Brussels on Wednesday to coordinate further support, Stoltenberg said at a news conference.  On Tuesday, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said the country had only received a fraction of the arms it had requested, and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the West was “not doing enough” to support Kyiv.  Meanwhile, seven NATO nations pledged their support for Sweden and Finland’s bids to join the military alliance.  The support was voiced after a gathering at Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s official residence in The Hague, co-hosted by his Danish counterpart, Mette Frederiksen.  The other leaders in attendance were Romania’s president and the prime ministers of Belgium, Poland, Portugal, and Latvia.