(PresidentialWire.com)- Russian military bombarded the easternmost Ukrainian-held city in the Donbas area on Wednesday, threatening to cut off the final significant escape route for residents. They aim to gain complete control of the Donbas, two eastern provinces it claims for rebels after failing to conquer Kyiv and Kharkiv.
Putin has sent hundreds of troops to the region to encircle Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. Their defeat would give Russia control of Luhansk, a crucial Kremlin military goal.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said that all of the Russian army’s remaining power is in Donbas. His office claimed the Russians attacked Sievierodonetsk early Wednesday, and mortar bombardment was relentless.
Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk area, stated six people were killed and eight wounded in Sievierodonetsk. The primary exit road was still bombarded, but humanitarian supplies was trickling in.
Ukraine’s military says it thwarted nine Russian strikes in the Donbas on Tuesday, but Aircraft, artillery, tanks, mortars, and missiles killed at least 14 people.
In Kramatorsk, near the front line, streets mainly were abandoned, while in Sloviansk, farther west, many civilians left during a lull in the Russian attack.
Officials said shelling in Zaporizhzhia killed a civilian and damaged dozens of homes, and missiles destroyed an industrial site in Kryviy Rih.
Moscow has blocked ships from southern Ukraine that would transport grain and sunflower oil across the Black Sea, driving up costs and jeopardizing lives. Russia blames the food shortage on Western sanctions. It indicated Wednesday it would allow food-carrying ships to leave Ukraine if sanctions were relaxed.
Interfax reported Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko as saying Moscow was in contact with the UN and didn’t rule out global discussions to unlock Ukraine’s ports.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, accused Moscow of “blackmail.” Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense minister, similarly rejected the Russian proposal, stating that food is for starving nations.
President Vladimir Putin issued a law easing the procedure for recently acquired regions to get Russian citizenship and passports.
Wednesday, the U.S. denied Russia’s request to pay bondholders, bringing it closer to a historic financial default. Meanwhile, the European Commission suggested criminalizing anyone breaking EU sanctions against Russia.