Russia reported on Tuesday that its forces had taken full control of residential areas in Severodonetsk, the focal city in Ukraine, after Kiev said its forces were fighting on in the main eastern hub despite being outnumbered.
Amid sharp warnings of global food shortages due in part to the war, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Turkey to discuss “security corridors” for Ukraine’s grain to leave the country.
The Russian military was still seeking control of the city’s “industrial zone and nearest settlements,” he added.
According to counsel for Dmytro Firtash, whose company owns the facility, about 800 civilians have taken refuge at a chemical plant in Severodonetsk.
“These 800 citizens include about 200 of the factory’s 3,000 workers and about 600 residents of the city of Severodonetsk,” Davis added.
Ukrainian sources pointed to the overwhelming superiority of Russian artillery in the area. The Ukrainian army said on Tuesday that Russian troops are preparing to attack the main city of Sloviansk in the battle for Donbas.
After being ousted from other parts of the country, including Kiev, Russia has concentrated its attack on the eastern Donbas region and made slow but steady progress.
His capture would open the way to Kramatorsk, the main city of the Ukrainian-occupied part of the Donetsk region.
Lavrov arrived in Ankara with a Russian military delegation for talks after the UN asked Turkey to help escort naval convoys carrying grain from Ukrainian ports, despite the presence of mines.
Moscow has blocked the main Black Sea port, Odessa, and Zelensky said Ukraine had up to 25 million tons of grain that could not be exported.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that reports that Russia has stolen grain from Ukraine for export are “credible”.
Moscow says grain exports are being hindered by Western sanctions.
The leader of Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, confirmed the death of another Russian general during the fighting on Tuesday.
Ukrainian forces have claimed to have killed several top Russian officials, but their exact number is unknown as Moscow is tight-lipped about the losses.
As fighting raged in eastern Ukraine, Kiev slammed the UN nuclear watchdog for an attempt to visit Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in the south of the country while under Russian occupation.
Grossi said on Twitter that the visit was arranged after Ukraine “asked” for it.
“We view this statement as another attempt to gain access to the Zaporizhzhya power plant in order to legitimize the presence of the occupiers and approve their actions.”
– Torture worries –
The power plant is located in the Kherson region, where Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russian forces of holding about 600 people, mostly journalists and pro-Kiev activists, in “specially converted basements”.
“According to our information, they are being held in inhumane conditions and are subject to torture,” Tasheva added without giving further details.
Originally published as Fighting in Ukraine, flashpoint city when grain export negotiations begin