Russia is launching a full-scale offensive to encircle Ukrainian troops in the east

  • The Kharkiv Metro is set to reopen following the withdrawal of Russian troops
  • Russia is trying to encircle Ukrainian forces in twin cities
  • More corpses are found in the Russian-controlled Mariupol
  • Home raid on Russian-backed leader in Moldova

KYIV / SLOVYANSK, Ukraine, May 24 (Reuters) – Russian forces on Tuesday launched a full-scale offensive to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities along a river in eastern Ukraine in a battle to determine the success or failure of Moscow’s main campaign. In the east.

Exactly three months after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, authorities in the second-largest city of Kharkiv are expected to open an underground metro, where thousands of civilians have been staying for months under relentless bombardment.

The reopening is a sign of Ukraine’s major military victory over the past few weeks: Russian forces have been massively pushed out of Kharkiv’s artillery range, as they did from the capital, Kiev, in March.

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But decisive battles in the latest phase of the war are still raging in the south, where Moscow is seeking to capture the two eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, Donbass, and pocket Ukrainian forces in the main east.

The eastern part of the Ukrainian-controlled Donbass Pocket, the city of Siverodonetsk on the east bank of the Shivarsky Donetsk River, and its dual lychee on the west bank have become major battlefields, and Russian forces are advancing around them from all three directions. .

“The enemy has concentrated his efforts on launching an offensive to encircle Lysychansk and Sieverodonetsk,” said Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk province, where the two cities are located in the last territory of Ukraine.

“The intensity of the Sievierodonetsk fire has multiplied, they are simply destroying the city,” he said on TV, there were about 15,000 people in the city and the Ukrainian army is controlling it.

Reuters journalists in the Donbass, which also reached the western part of Baghdad, heard heavy shelling on the highway to Lyszansk on Monday. Ukrainian armored vehicles, tanks and rocket launchers were moving towards the front line.

Airstrikes sirens sounded Tuesday morning west of Slovenes, one of the largest Donbass cities still in Ukrainian hands, but the streets were still busy, the market was packed, children were riding bikes and a street musician was playing the violin at a supermarket.

Two empty public transport buses headed for the main city of Lyman, accompanied by a police and army car, to evacuate civilians from heavy shelling.

‘Who will bury them?’

Kaitoi said Ukrainian forces had chased the Russians out of the village of Toshkivka, south of Siverodonetsk. It could not be confirmed independently. Four people were killed in a shelling attack on a house in Siverodonetsk overnight.

The war erupted following the surrender last week of the Ukrainian garrison at the port of Mariupol after a nearly three-month siege in Kiev where tens of thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed.

Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to Mariupol Ukrainian mayor who is now operating outside the Russian-controlled city, said on television that the dead were still found in the rubble.

About 200 rotten bodies were found buried in the rubble in the basement of a tall building, he said. The locals refused to collect them and the Russian authorities abandoned the place, causing a stench throughout the district.

Russia now controls the unbroken part of eastern and southern Ukraine, but has not yet achieved its goal of capturing all of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba tweeted that the “ruthless” attack on Donbass meant that Ukraine still needed Western weapons, especially several missile rocket systems, long-range artillery and armored vehicles.

Russia’s three – month long invasion, the largest attack on a European state since 1945, saw more than 6.5 million people flee abroad, turning entire cities into ruins and imposing severe sanctions on Moscow.

In neighboring Moldova, investigators raided the office and home of pro-Russian former President Igor Dodan as the pro-Western government warned of the risk of unrest along the border controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Local media reported that the search was being conducted in connection with an investigation into allegations of corruption and treason. Dodan’s Socialist Party said the allegations against him were baseless.

In Russia itself, imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has been banned from criticizing the war and the independent media shut down, appeared in court via video link from a prison colony to condemn “the stupid war started by your Putin.”

“A madman got his nails into Ukraine and I do not know what he wants to do with it – this mad thief,” Navalny said.

At a cemetery outside Mariupol, Natalia Voloshina, who lost her 28-year-old son in the struggle for the city by trampling long queues of new tombs and makeshift wooden crosses, said many of Mariupol’s dead had no one to honor their memory. .

“Who will bury them? Who will bury them?” She asked.

“They have no family.”

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Report by Oleksandr Kozhukhar in Lviv, Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets in Kyiv and Reuters journalists in Mariupol and Slovyansk; Written by Peter Groff; Editing by Nick McPhee and John Boyle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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