World · June 18, 2022

Ukrainian Zelenskyy visits front lines in the south as Russian forces strike a strategically important city in the east

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy visited frontline cities along the Black Sea on Saturday to meet soldiers and hear operational updates in the area.

Zelenskyy donned his signature khaki shirt as he handed out medals to soldiers fighting to prevent Russian forces from invading the strategically vital port cities of Mykolaiv and Odessa.

Russian officials said their goal is to gain full control of Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions.

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian presidential press office on Saturday 18 June 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, awards a military man as he visits the war-affected Mykolaiv region.

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian presidential press office on Saturday 18 June 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, awards a military man as he visits the war-affected Mykolaiv region.
(Ukrainian presidential press office via AP)

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While Russian forces have made gains in the east, Ukrainian troops have prevented them from making the same advances along the Black Sea so far.

Russia has attempted to reach the Ukrainian coast since the invasion began nearly four months ago and the ensuing stalemate in the Black Sea has created a global food crisis as grain exports remain holed up in Ukrainian storage facilities. .

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian presidential press office on Saturday 18 June 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy inspects damaged buildings as he visits the war-affected Mykolaiv region.

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian presidential press office on Saturday 18 June 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy inspects damaged buildings as he visits the war-affected Mykolaiv region.
(Ukrainian presidential press office via AP)

Zelenskyy presented prizes to Odessa Ministry of Internal Affairs officials for their “heroic” service and told them their survival was critical to Ukraine’s success.

“It is important that you are alive. As long as you live, there is a strong Ukrainian wall that protects our country,” he added.

While Ukrainian forces have kept Russian troops at bay in the south, Moscow has made more progress in the eastern Donbas region, where brutal fighting ensues in the strategically important city of Sievierdonetsk.

Nearly 570 civilians remain locked up in a chemical plant in the western city of Luhansk as Russian forces fight for complete control over it.

It is unclear how many Ukrainian troops remain inside the partially defeated city, but officials are concerned that the brutal air and ground attack may be a repeat of the catastrophic events that plagued Mariupol at the start of the war.

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian presidential press office on Saturday 18 June 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a meeting with military officials as he visits the war-affected Mykolaiv region.

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian presidential press office on Saturday 18 June 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a meeting with military officials as he visits the war-affected Mykolaiv region.
(Ukrainian presidential press office via AP)

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Russian forces destroyed the last remaining bridge connecting Sievierdonetsk with the western parts of Ukraine as they attempted to assert dominance over the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

If Russian forces are able to gain control over Sievierdonetsk, they can more easily push forces west into Ukraine and south to try and pinch the southern regions from a northerly direction.

On Saturday, the UK Ministry of Defense said that “in the past 48 hours, Russia has likely renewed its efforts to advance south of Izium, with the aim of advancing deeper into Donetsk Oblast and enveloping the pocket of Sieverdonetsk from the north “.

Russian forces have said they are attempting to open humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave, but Ukrainian and Western officials have warned that this is yet another attempt to forcibly deport Ukrainians to Russia, where they are reportedly some tens of thousands of Ukrainians were sent.

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“The options for leaving the city are limited by the destruction of the bridges, but the route proposed by Russia would take them to the city of Svatova, deeper into Russian-occupied territory,” the British Defense Ministry said.

The ministry also warned that if the trapped civilians do not use any necessary corridors to leave the city, “Russia will likely claim justification in making a minor distinction between them and any Ukrainian military targets in the area.”