Ukraine marked 100 days since the Russian invasion on Friday with fighting raging across the east of the country, where Moscow’s forces are tightening their encirclement in the Donbas.
The milestone came when Kyiv announced that Moscow now controls a fifth of Ukraine’s territory, including Crimea and parts of the Donbas captured in 2014.
After being pushed back from the area around the capital, President Vladimir Putin’s army has set its sights on capturing eastern Ukraine, issuing warnings that war could be protracted.
After talks at the White House with US President Joe Biden, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday warned that Ukraine’s allies need to prepare for a fierce “war of attrition”.
“We just need to prepare for the long haul,” Stoltenberg said, reiterating that NATO does not want a direct confrontation with Russia.
Although advancing more slowly than expected, Moscow’s forces are making progress – President Volodymyr Zelensky told Luxembourg lawmakers that 20% of Ukraine’s territory is now in Russian hands.
Since the February 24 invasion of Russia, thousands of people have been killed and millions have been forced to flee. On the battlefield, up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers are dying every day, according to Zelensky.
Street battles are raging in the industrial center of Severodonetsk in Lugansk, part of the Donbas.
Russia already controls about 80% of the strategic city but its defense forces are resisting fiercely, with the governor of the Lugansk region, Sergiy Gaiday, declaring Ukrainian forces will fight “to the end”.
Severodonetsk’s Azot plant, one of Europe’s largest chemical plants, was targeted by Russian soldiers who opened fire on one of the administrative buildings and a methanol warehouse.
‘Shooting guns everywhere’
Gaiday said the Ukrainian military is still holding onto an industrial zone, a situation reminiscent of Mariupol, home to a huge steel mill that was the last station of the southeastern port city until the Ukrainian army’s arrival. finally surrendered at the end of May.
In the city of Sloviansk, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Severodonetsk, residents reported continuous bombardment by Russian troops.
“It’s very difficult here,” said paramedic Ekaterina Perednenko, 24, who only returned to the city five days ago but realized she would have to leave again.
“Shooting guns everywhere, it’s scary. There’s no water, electricity or gas,” she said.
In the southern city of Mykolaiv, Russian shelling has left at least one person dead and several others injured, Ukrainian military officials said late Thursday.
Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, appealed for modern weapons and equipment, saying that “the enemy has a decisive advantage in artillery.”
“It will save the lives of our people,” he added.
Led by the United States, Western nations have been pumping weapons and military supplies into Ukraine to help it survive the onslaught.
Bridget Brink, the new US ambassador to Kyiv, promised on Thursday that the US would “help Ukraine win against Russian aggression”, after presenting her credentials to Zelensky.
Earlier this week, the United States announced that it would send a more advanced Himar multiple rocket launcher system to Ukraine.
Mobile units can simultaneously fire multiple types of precision-guided munitions at targets up to 80 km away.
They are at the heart of a $700 million package that includes air surveillance radars, ammunition, helicopters and vehicles.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Washington of “adding fuel to the fire”, although US officials insist Ukraine has promised not to use them to attack inside Russia.
In addition to sending weapons to Ukraine, Western allies have also sought to cut off Russian financing in an effort to get Putin to change course.
Given an already long list of sanctions, the United States has blacklisted Putin’s money manager and a Monaco company that supplies luxury yachts to Moscow’s elite.
Across the Atlantic, EU nations have agreed to new sanctions that will block 90% of Russian oil imports into the bloc by the end of the year.
Oil is disappointing
Russia warned that European consumers would be the first to pay the price for the partial oil embargo.
Major crude oil producers have agreed to increase output by about 50% per month in an effort to calm an overheated market and ease pressure on inflation.
But the move disappointed investors, and prices rallied after the announcement.
The war risks triggering a global food crisis, as Ukraine is one of the world’s top grain producers.
It has resulted in higher costs for staples from grains to sunflower oil to corn, with the worst rates among the worst-affected regions.
The head of the African Union, Senegalese President Macky Sall, will visit Russia on Friday for talks with Putin.
Sall’s office said the visit was intended to “release stockpiles of grain and fertilizer, congested items that especially affect African countries”, along with de-escalating the Ukraine conflict.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from the syndication feed.)