Video summary of the Ukraine – Russia war: June 23 15:41 (CNN Spanish) — Exactly four months have passed since Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine and Russia is about to definitively take the city of Severodonetsk, a key to take control of the east of the country. In addition, Russian forces also made gains and claimed control of two towns south of neighboring Donbas cities, Lisichansk and Severodonetsk. See the main news of the war this Friday, June 24. Russia is about to take a key Ukrainian city, but bigger battles lie ahead It was more a question of when, rather than if, the remaining Ukrainian units in the eastern city of Severodonetsk would withdraw. Over the past few weeks, Russian forces have simply destroyed every defensive position the Ukrainians have taken up, pushing them back a few blocks in and around the city’s Azot chemical plant. Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk held out much longer than many observers anticipated, forcing the Russians and their allies to commit resources to the city that could have been used to press the offensive elsewhere. But the Ukrainian military has clearly made the decision that there was nothing left to defend, and that the hundreds of civilians sheltering at the plant were in more danger with each passing day. According to the Institute for War, an American think tank that closely follows the campaign, “The loss of Severodonetsk is a loss for Ukraine in the sense that any land captured by Russian forces is a loss, but the battle of Severodonetsk will not be a decisive Russian victory”. Now the battle moves across the Siverskiy Donets River to Lysychansk, the last town in Luhansk held by Ukrainian forces. And there are already signs that the Russians will use the same ruthless area bombing tactic to reduce Ukrainian forces, deploying fighter jets, multiple launch rocket systems and even short-range ballistic missiles like the Tochka-U. Ukrainian soldiers ride a tank on a road in the eastern Luhansk region on June 23, 2022, amid Russia’s launched military invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images) Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said Friday: “There is a lot of military equipment. According to our information, at least six Tochka-Us left in the direction of Lisychansk alone from Starobilsk. One is enough destructive power, six is total disaster.” The loss of Severodonetsk—and, potentially, of Lisychansk in the coming days—may have entered the Ukrainian calculations, given the overwhelming firepower of Russian forces and the apparent improvement in Russian logistics since the campaign against Russia was abandoned. Kyiv. But every defended town and city provides an opportunity to degrade the enemy. Large areas of the neighboring Donetsk region are still under Ukrainian control. The regional military administration says that about 45% of Donetsk is in the hands of Ukrainian forces, including the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. There are not many obvious defensive positions west of Lisichansk, in an area of open country. Ukrainian commanders will have to decide whether it is better to abandon the entire pocket—bravely defended for weeks—in favor of a more consolidated defense of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, and Kostiantynivka, Donetsk’s industrial belt. The question is whether the losses inflicted on Russian forces in recent weeks will undermine their ability and desire to engulf more territory, especially as Ukraine deploys more accurate Western weapons such as HIMARS rocket systems. Similarly, it is unclear whether the punishment endured by Ukrainian units in the Donbas region over the past two months has left them with sufficient resources to launch counter-attacks against the Russian flanks (as they have attempted against Russian forces advancing from the Kharkiv region in the north). The Kremlin has not deviated from its ultimate goal of taking all of Donetsk and Luhansk. Now he has almost all of the latter. The completion of the “special military operation” will still take weeks, and more likely months, if at all. It has become a classic war of attrition. Russian forces have orders to blockade two major Ukrainian ports and are mining the Black Sea, according to the US The United States has information that the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet “has orders to effectively blockade the Ukrainian ports of Odessa and Ochakiv”, a US official told CNN, citing what was described as recently declassified intelligence. According to this official, that intelligence also revealed indications that Russian forces are deploying mines in the Black Sea and have previously mined the Dnipro River. Western officials have accused Moscow of “militarizing” food supplies, as leaders and experts warn of a looming food crisis with millions of tons of Ukrainian grain unable to reach the world market due to the war. “We can confirm that despite Russia’s public claims that it is not mining the northwestern Black Sea, Russia is indeed deploying mines in the Black Sea near Ochakiv,” the US official told CNN on Thursday. The Guardian first reported the results of the newly declassified intelligence. Moscow has said it is not preventing agricultural shipments from Ukraine and has said Kyiv must clear the waters so ships can transit. “The Russian Federation is not creating any obstacles to the passage of ships or vessels. We are not preventing anything,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in early June. In a call with reporters on Thursday organized by the US State Department’s Africa Regional Media Center, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “We should not buy the argument that it is Ukraine which blocked the sea with its mines to prevent the entry and exit of cargo or ships. “Russia was mining the sea. We were mining the sea to defend ourselves. The Russians were mining it to — not allow — our ships to be destroyed,” he said. “The real question is what happens when the port is demined. Who will guarantee and how can it be guaranteed that Russia will not abuse the open port and attack Odessa from the sea? This is the question that everyone is asking: how to ensure that Russia does not attack Odessa from the sea.” EU needs to buy energy collectively to avoid winter crisis, says Belgium PM EU member states need to buy energy collectively and put gas price caps in place to avoid what could be a harsh winter Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Friday. “We are heading into a winter that could be difficult. We can only get through this difficult period if we work together,” De Croo said ahead of the European Council meeting in Brussels. “We have to form an energy bloc, buy energy collectively, make use of price caps and better coordinate with each other,” he added. De Croo went on to say that the European Commission “should take the initiative right now.” Russian gas cuts affect the European Union 0:52 “If we all act on our own, we will not be able to get out of this,” he stressed. Europe has been trying to reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas since the invasion of Ukraine in late February. Europe’s energy crisis deepened this month when Moscow further cut supplies to Germany, Italy and other members of the European Union. Twelve EU countries have so far been affected by Russian gas supply cuts, the bloc’s climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said on Thursday. Gas supply in the EU is “currently guaranteed” but the situation “must be taken seriously,” the EU Commission told CNN on Thursday. This Thursday, the EU and Norway agreed to further strengthen their cooperation in the energy field, providing the EU with additional gas supplies.
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