by Natalia Zinets and Jonathan Landay
KYIV, Ukraine, May 20 (Reuters) – Russian forces have stepped up their offensive in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass, combining artillery, rocket and airstrikes to weaken defenses around Donetsk, a informed the Ukrainian general staff on Friday.
“The Russian enemy carried out massive artillery bombardments against civilian infrastructure, including heavy fire from rocket launchers,” the Ukrainian army general staff said in a statement.
Still in the Donbass, a little further east, the surroundings of the city of Luhansk, about sixty kilometers from the border with Russia, have also been the target of bombardments which have killed 13 civilians in the past 24 hours. , according to the regional governor, Serhi Gaïdaï.
Twelve people were killed in the city of Severodonetsk, about 100 kilometers north of Luhansk, the scene of an unsuccessful assault by Russian forces, said the governor of the administrative region of Luhansk.
Since the failure of the initial offensive towards the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the late March-early April withdrawal of Russian troops from northern Ukraine, Russia has focused much of its efforts on conquering all of the territories of the administrative regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, in parts controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists.
The Donbass industrial region is now totally destroyed, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky said Thursday evening in his daily video address.
Russia continues to characterize its offensive in Ukraine as a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing and “denazifying” the country. (Report Natalia Zinets and Max Hunder, French version Myriam Rivet, edited by)
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