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'Everything is on fire': Ukraine region weathers bombardment

by The Associated Press | June 22, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.
Firefighters work at the site of fire after Russian shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, Saturday, June 18, 2022. (AP Photo/George Ivanchenko)

By YURAS KARMANAU, JOHN LEICESTER and DAVID KEYTON

Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- Russian attacks laid down a curtain of fire Tuesday across areas of eastern Ukraine where pockets of resistance are denying Moscow full military control of the region, almost four months after the Kremlin unleashed its invasion.

"Today everything that can burn is on fire," Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region, told The Associated Press.

Russia's war has caused alarm over food supplies from Ukraine to the rest of the world and gas supplies from Russia, as well as raising questions about security in Western Europe.

The Russian military currently controls about 95% of the Luhansk region. But Moscow has struggled for weeks to overrun it completely, despite deploying additional troops and possessing a massive advantage in military assets.

In the city of Sievierodonetsk, the hot spot of the fighting, Ukrainian defenders held on to the Azot chemical plant in the industrial outskirts. About 500 civilians are sheltering at the plant, and Haidai said the Russian forces are turning the area "into ruins."

"It is a sheer catastrophe," Haidai told the AP in written comments about the plant. "Our positions are being fired at from howitzers, multiple rocket launchers, large-caliber artillery, missile strikes."

Neighboring Lysychansk, the only city in the Luhansk region that is still fully under Ukrainian control, is also the target of multiple airstrikes.

Separately, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland met for about an hour at a Ukrainian-Polish border post with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova. They discussed how the U.S. can help identify, apprehend and prosecute anyone involved in war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine.

"We and our partners will pursue every avenue available to make sure that those who are responsible for these atrocities are held accountable," Garland said in a statement.

Garland also tapped Eli Rosenbaum -- a 36-year Justice Department veteran who headed efforts to identify and deport Nazi war criminals -- as counselor for war crimes accountability. He will coordinate efforts to hold accountable those responsible for war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine.

According to its daily update, the Russian military over the day shelled the northern Chernihiv region, and intensified its shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city. Explosions also occurred on Tuesday morning in the southern city of Mykolaiv.

Speaking Tuesday to graduates of Russian military academies at a lavish Kremlin reception, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the Russian armed forces as heirs to the country's "legendary" military traditions. "The country is now going through another series of trials," he said, expressing confidence that Russia will overcome all the challenges.

International support for Ukraine was demonstrated once more when a Nobel Peace Prize medal auctioned off by Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov sold Monday night for $103.5 million, shattering the old record for a Nobel. The auction aimed to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees.

Geopolitical tensions stemming from Russia's invasion returned to Lithuania. Due to European Union sanctions on Moscow, the Baltic country earlier this month banned rail traffic from crossing its territory from Russia to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

In other developments Tuesday:

-- Russian authorities blocked the website of British newspaper The Telegraph over an article it published, the internet rights group Roskomsvoboda reported Tuesday. It said Russia's media and internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, blocked Russian access to a story that alleged that Russian forces had prepared a mobile crematorium for use in its war with Ukraine, possibly to hide its military casualties. The move made the entire Telegraph website inaccessible for some Russians.

-- Britain's Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence report that Ukraine's coastal defenses have "largely neutralized" Russia's ability to project maritime force in the northwestern Black Sea. "This has undermined the viability of Russia's original operational design for the invasion, which involved holding the Odesa region at risk from the sea," the report said.

-- The U.S. State Department confirmed the death of a U.S. citizen in Ukraine who is believed to be only the second American to have been killed while fighting in the conflict.

Print Headline: 'Everything is on fire': Ukraine region weathers bombardment

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