Russians near control of key eastern Ukraine city

Russian forces have taken nearly full control of a key city in the Luhansk part of eastern Ukraine as they pivot to attacks on the Donetsk region in the face of stiff Ukrainian resistance, British intelligence officials said Thursday.

The main road to the city, Severodonetsk, remains under Ukrainian control, but Russia “continues to make steady local gains, enabled by a heavy concentration of artillery,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense tweeted in its daily update.

“This has not been without cost, and Russian forces have sustained losses in the process,” the ministry said.

The ministry said Russia now faces the risky proposition of crossing the Siverskyi Donets River as it focuses on the Donetsk region, where Ukrainian armed forces have set up defensive positions and destroyed bridges.

“It is likely Russia will need at least a short tactical pause to re-set for opposed river crossings and subsequent attacks further into Donetsk Oblast, where Ukrainian armed forces have prepared defensive positions,” the ministry said. “To do so risks losing some of the momentum they have built over the last week.”

Ukrainian forces reportedly made progress elsewhere in recent days. Officials said they liberated areas around the Russian-controlled city of Kherson in the south while Russia focuses on the east.

President Biden this week decided to send advanced rocket systems to Ukraine, prompting the Kremlin to accuse the U.S. of “pouring gasoline on the fire.”

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