KIEV, Ukraine — (TNS) The situation remains tense for Ukrainian troops in the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, according to the country’s president.
“We are holding the situation, just holding the situation,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday, according to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency. Russian forces are superior, he said. “Nevertheless, we have every chance to continue fighting in this direction,” the 44-year-old leader stressed.
For Ukrainian troops, there were “gradual” successes in the neighboring Kharkiv region. However, the “most threatening” situation is in the Zaporizhzhya region, where the Russian army is threatening the regional capital, he said after a visit to the front.
Army spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk reported intense fighting “practically along the entire front line in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.”
The Russian air force had flown 39 sorties for airstrikes outside eastern Ukraine as well. Targets in the country had also been fired on with land-based missiles from the Crimean Peninsula annexed by Russia.
Ukraine has been fighting the Russian invasion for more than 100 days. The United Nations has so far recorded more than 4,100 civilian deaths, but estimates the number of civilian casualties to be much higher.
As the fighting continues, the Ukrainian military confirmed the death of a senior pro-Russian separatist leader, Major General Kutuzov. He had been in the field. The confirmation comes following a report by Russian state television on Sunday.
Kutuzov was reportedly killed while leading a Russian attack on a village near the town of Popasna in Luhansk. The Ukrainian military earlier reported that the Russian offensive had been unsuccessful and that the enemy was forced to retreat with “considerable losses.”
Several Russian generals have lost their lives since the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, though Moscow has only officially confirmed the death of four.
There were reports of shelling of the village of Tyotkino in the Kursk region in western Russia, close to the border with Ukraine, according to a Russian official.
“There were no deaths or injuries,” Governor Roman Starovoit wrote on the vkontakte social network.
He said the target was a bridge in the town, which was used by the Russian army to supply troops fighting in Ukraine. But a residential building and the local sugar factory had been hit.
There were also worries about strikes on Kiev, after a round of missiles struck at the weekend.
“We should still understand that the war is in its hot phase and Kiev remains the Russian Federation’s main target,” said Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar.
German Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth arrived in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa on Monday for a two-day visit, at the invitation of her Ukrainian counterpart Olexandr Tkachenko.
“We want to show how culture is under attack,” Roth said. Odessa has been the target of Russian shelling: Moscow aims to take control there due to the strategic position in the Black Sea.
Millions of tons of Ukrainian grain are currently stuck in the city, causing food prices to soar worldwide. Russia and Ukraine are in negotiations with Turkey to find a solution for the release of the grains.
According to the pro-Moscow newspaper Izvestia (The News), Turkish military forces would take over demining operations and also escort ships as far as neutral waters. Russian warships would then escort the vessels carrying grain to the Bosporus.
Roth is to meet Odessa state Governor Maksym Marchenko and city Mayor Hennadii Trukhanov. She has shown her support for Ukrainian artists in Germany several times.
In Odessa, she plans to visit some of the city’s cultural institutions, such as the Odessa Film Studio and the Philharmonic Theater.
Roth said she wants to help Odessa with its application for UNESCO World Heritage status and she assured Tkachenko and Trukhanov of this on Monday. “Germany supports this application,” Roth said on behalf of the German government.
The Green politician is the first member of the German government to visit the port city on the Black Sea since the Russian war on Ukraine began.
The city is obviously in an emergency situation, she said, and works of art can be seen everywhere being protected from the attacks. “The Ukrainian government is not alone,” Roth assured. She said she would also lobby her colleagues in other countries to support Odessa’s application.