Fierce fighting has continued in Syevyerodonetsk, with Ukrainian forces now controlling roughly one-third of the key city despite Russia’s throwing into overwhelming numbers of troops and equipment, officials said, as the specter of a cholera epidemic loomed over the Russian-controlled port of Mariupol.
Ukrainian officials have again called for a speedy delivery of advanced Western weaponry to counter Russia’s huge artillery advantage in the east, where hundreds of soldiers are being killed or wounded daily in the carnage.
Ukraine’s Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said on June 9 the situation in Syevyerodonetsk was “extremely complicated” and Russian forces were focusing all of their might in the area.
“They don’t spare their people, they’re just sending men like cannon fodder…they are shelling our military day and night,” Danilov told Reuters in an interview.
Oleksandr Stryuk, the chief of Syevyerodonetsk’s military administration, said on June 9 that there is “constant street fighting.”
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“The humanitarian situation in the city is critical. There is no water supply,” Stryuk said on Ukrainian television.
“The Ukrainian Armed Forces controls approximately one-third of the city now,” he added.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy reported some “positive” news from the southeastern Zaporizhzhya region, where he said Ukrainians managed to stave off the Russian offensive meant to completely capture the region.
Zelenskiy also said in a video address late on June 9 that Ukrainian forces were gradually advancing in the Kharkiv region “liberating our land.”
But Zelenskiy’s senior aid Mykhaylo Podolyak said that because of Russia’s lopsided advantage in heavy artillery, Ukraine was losing between 100 and 200 soldiers daily on the front line.
The figure advanced by Podolyak was higher than a previous estimate by Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, who on June 9 said Ukraine was losing 100 soldiers a day, and 500 more were wounded. The discrepancy in figures appears to indicate the difficulty of obtaining accurate battlefield information.
Podolyak told the BBC that Ukraine needed hundreds of Western artillery systems to level the playing field with Russia in the Donbas.
Ukrainian officials also said that Russia was losing an even higher number of troops, with Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Hayday saying Russians were “dying like flies.”
Neither account could be independently verified.
In the devastated Sea of Azov port of Mariupol that was under Russian siege for months before it fell, there is a risk of a major cholera outbreak, Britain’s Defense Ministry said on June 10 in its daily intelligence bulletin.
The bulletin said isolated cases of cholera have been reported in Mariupol since last month. British intelligence also assessed that Russia was struggling to provide basic public services to the inhabitants of the territories that it has occupied in Ukraine.
“Access to safe drinking water has been inconsistent, while major disruption to telephone and internet services continues,” it said.
Zelenskiy said he spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron about the situation on the front lines and the possible development of the conflict in the coming days and weeks.
They also spoke about Ukraine’s application to join the European Union and the issues of security guarantees for Ukraine and the whole of Europe.
“I am grateful that we discussed this topic with the president of France. We continue to work,” Zelenskiy said.
Two British citizens and a Moroccan were destined to death for fighting on Ukraine’s side, a punishment handed down by Moscow-backed separatists that outraged British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
The proceedings against the three captured fighters also was deounced by Ukraine and other Western countries as a sham and a violation of the rules of war.
Zelenskiy earlier on June 9 signed a decree imposing sanctions on Putin and dozens of other top Russian officials.
The list of 35 sanctioned officials included’s and Putin’s Spokesman Dmitry Peskov all members of Russia’s government and security council, including Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The largely symbolic move, which was approved by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, bans those listed entry to Ukraine, revokes visas and permits, and blocks their financial assets.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, BBC, CNN, and AP