Russian forces cut off the last routes out of Sievierodonetsk

Russian forces cut off the last routes out of Sievierodonetsk; Zelenskyy warns of a ‘brutal’ battle.

On Monday, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said the Russian military destroyed all bridges connecting the city, making civilian evacuations and humanitarian aid deliveries nearly impossible.
Oleksandr Struyk, the head of the Sievierodonetsk city administration, said that “massive shelling” destroyed a third bridge in the critical eastern Ukrainian city, “but the city is not isolated.  There are communication channels even if they are quite complicated,” Stryuk told Ukrainian television.  He said Ukrainian forces “continue to defend the city” after the bridge over the Siverskyi Donets River, linking the city to Ukrainian-controlled Lysychansk, was destroyed.

The British Defense Ministry said in its regular intelligence report that Russian forces likely made “small advances” in the northeastern Kharkiv for the first time in weeks.  The report added that the city of Sievierodonetsk in the eastern Donbas region remains the main focus of Russia in its war in Ukraine.  According to the ministry, Russia’s defense industry could struggle to meet the “demands” of the war in Ukraine, “partially due to the effects of sanctions and lack of expertise.”
The report noted that a top Russian defense official had recently predicted that defense spending would see a 20% increase, around 700 billion rubles (approximately €11 billion, $12 billion).  It said such funding is allowing Russia’s “defense industrial base to be slowly mobilized to meet demands placed on it by the war in Ukraine.  However, Russia’s production of high-quality optics and advanced electronics likely remain troubled and could undermine its efforts to replace equipment lost in Ukraine,” the report added.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke before meeting Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger and reiterated Berlin’s commitment to supply Ukraine with modern weaponry.  “It is clear that Ukraine needs additional weapons for its defense,” Scholz added that Germany has supplied Ukraine with arms since the start of the invasion.  “In this critical phase, we are considering expanding our support: we will supply Ukraine with a state-of-the-art anti-aircraft system and an artillery detection radar, among other things,” the chancellor went on to say.  Scholz said the arms would be supplied in coordination with European and NATO partners.  He added that it was important that Germany and its allies defend “every square inch of NATO territory” and that Berlin would increase its presence on NATO’s eastern flank.  Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized Scholz and German officials in an interview with the ZDF broadcaster and urged Berlin not to prioritize its relations with Russia over Ukraine’s defense.
“We need from Chancellor Scholz the certainty that Germany supports Ukraine,” he said.  “He and his government must decide: there can’t be a trade-off between Ukraine and relations with Russia.”

Scholz has countered criticism that Germany was being slow in delivering heavy weapons to Ukraine, arguing that Ukraine’s soldiers must first receive training to use such advanced weapons.  “This is about really heavy equipment.  You have to be able to use that; you have to be trained for that,” Scholz said, adding that Ukrainian forces were currently training in Germany.

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