Russia now occupies 20% of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky says


Russia has occupied 20 per cent of Ukraine, said the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking as the invasion entered its 100th day.

“We have to defend ourselves against almost the entire Russian army,” Mr Zelensky told lawmakers in Luxembourg’s parliament in a video conference on Thursday. “All combat-ready Russian military formations are involved in this aggression.”

He told lawmakers that the frontlines in the conflict now extended to more than 1,000km, and urged them to imagine what could be unfolding there.

He said nearly 300,000 square km of Ukraine was riddled with landmines and unexploded ordnances and nearly 12 million people were internally displaced.

In his address, Mr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces have had “some success in the battles in Sievierodonetsk” in the eastern Donbas region.

The overall military situation in the region where Russian forces have been intensifying attacks, however, has not changed, he said.

A damaged Soviet tank monument on 2 June 2022 in Trostyanets, Ukraine

(Getty Images)

The remarks came after UK defence officials confirmed Russia had captured most of Sievierodonetsk and made “steady local gains, enabled by a heavy concentration of artillery”.

The British defense ministry also said Ukraine is suffering significant setbacks in parts of the east amid reports of street combats between soldiers in Sievierodonetsk.

Updating about the situation at the massive Azov chemical plant, Mr Zelensky said some 15,000 civilians were trapped in the city and many have taken shelter at the plant where officials raised fears of dangerous chemical leaks.

“Given the presence of large-scale chemical production in Sievierodonetsk, the Russian army’s strikes there, including blind air bombing, are just crazy,” Mr Zelensky had said in an earlier video message.

The US has agreed to send advanced rocket launch systems to Ukraine after an initial reluctance to send advanced medium-range missile systems amid warnings from Russia against provoking it by such deliveries.

The missiles, known as High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (Himars), can hit targets at distances of up to 80km (50 miles).

Mr Zelensky thanked the US for agreeing to send advanced rocket systems to Ukraine and said it expected to receive more weapons from the country and its allies in the future.

“These weapons really can save the lives of our people and defend our land,” the Ukrainian president said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, however, accused the US and its allies of intentionally prolonging the war. He said the countries helping Ukraine are “adding fuel to the fire” with such deliveries.

Meanwhile, US treasury department officials announced new sanctions against Russia on Thursday.

The sanctions targeted officials and business leaders and involve the luxury property of elites, including some of Vladimir Putin’s close associates and the money manager of his offshore wealth.

At least five Russian businessmen who have links to Mr Putin and foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova will have their assets in the US frozen and will be barred from doing business with US companies.

The UK will send sophisticated medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine, a decision coordinated closely with a US decision to send Himars to Ukraine, said UK defence secretary Ben Wallace.

He added that the country will send an unspecified number of M270 launchers, which can send precision-guided rockets up to 80km (50 miles).

The US and its allies want to hold Russia accountable for war crimes its forces have been accused of committing in Ukraine.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.



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