Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lamented "painful" losses in fighting for Severodonetsk during a video address Tuesday, as the Russian military strengthens its grip on the key eastern city. File Photo by Ukrainian Presidential Office | License Photo
June 14 (UPI) -- As the Russian military solidified its grip on the key eastern Ukraine city of Severodonetsk, Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky lamented "painful" losses during a video address Tuesday.
In Severodonetsk "the losses, unfortunately, are painful," Zelensky said during the address, CNN reported.
"The more losses the enemy suffers there, the less strength they will have to continue the aggression. Therefore, the Donbas direction is key to determining who will dominate in the coming weeks."
Russia strengthened its positions in the Donbas on Tuesday, a day after destroying the final remaining bridges to Severodonetsk.
The strategic gains give Moscow another advantage in its mission to completely control the city.
Fighting took place across the region, while Zelensky appealed Tuesday night to the international community to send his beleaguered troops further military aid.
"We keep telling our partners that Ukraine needs modern anti-missile weapons. Our country does not have it at a sufficient level yet, but it is our country in Europe that needs such weapons most right now. Delay with its provision cannot be justified. I will constantly emphasize this when talking to our partners," Zelensky wrote on his Telegraph account.
"We made the first requests for anti-missile systems long before the full-scale invasion. And this week there will be many different important talks -- and not only with European politicians who are able to provide Ukraine with modern anti-missile systems."
Severodonetsk is the last major city in eastern Ukraine that's still under partial Ukrainian control. A victory by Russian troops would make it easier for them to capture the entire Donbas region -- which has been Moscow's top goal of the war for about two months.
Prior to Zelensky's address Tuesday, Luhansk region Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Ukrainian fighters are still in control of "part of the city" -- but Russia's attack on the bridges is expected to make it even more difficult for Ukrainian fighters and harder to evacuate civilians.
Also Tuesday, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office said the number of children killed in the conflict sits at 288, the Kyiv Independent reported.
Estimates of Russia's control in Severodonetsk and the Donbas vary by source. Moscow has claimed that it controls more than 90% of the region and Ukrainian officials in the Donbas have put the figure in Severodonetsk somewhere between 70% and 80%.
A damaged road is seen near Severodonetsk, Ukraine, on June 2. Russian forces have been trying to take control of the Donbas, which includes Severodonetsk and many other locations, for about two months. Photo by EPA-EFE
Eduard Basurin, deputy leader of the unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic's People's Militia, said Monday some Ukrainian fighters were trapped in Severodonetsk and they must surrender or die.
The British Defense Ministry said Tuesday that while Russian forces are making net gains in Severodonetsk, they also seem to be making some gains in the Kharkiv sector for the first time in several weeks. Kharkiv is located in northeastern Ukraine and was the focus of a Russian offensive from the start of the war in February to the middle of May.
Ukrainian forces repelled Russian troops and kept control of Kharkiv, which is Ukraine's second-largest city after the capital Kyiv.
A woman eats food given to her by volunteers at a food delivery station run by a Hare Krishna group in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 20, 2022. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo