Kyiv (The Times Groupe)- Ukraine said it has recaptured a chunk of the factory city of Sievierodonetsk, which was the focus of a Russian offensive to take the eastern Donbas region, and could hold it for up to two weeks as fighting resumed on Saturday.
Sergiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk province, told national television on Friday that Ukrainian troops had taken back 20% of the territory they had lost in Sievierodonetsk.
He said it was unlikely that the city would fall in the next two weeks despite Russian reinforcements being deployed.
“As soon as we get enough long-range weapons from the West, we’ll push their artillery from our positions. And then, believe me, the Russian infantry will just run,” Gaidai said.
Ukrainian advances could not be independently verified. Reuters reached Sievierodonetsk on Thursday and confirmed that Ukrainians still controlled a portion of the city.
Earlier on Saturday, Ukraine’s military reported that Russia had reinforced its troops and had used artillery to conduct “assault operations” in the city.
There were also failed attempts by Russian forces to advance in the nearby town of Bakhmut, cutting off access to Sievierodonetsk.
On Friday, the war in Ukraine entered its 100th day. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions uprooted from their homes, and the global economy has been disrupted since Moscow’s forces were driven back from Kyiv in the first weeks of the conflict.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Moscow was preventing Ukrainian ports from exporting grain, blaming the West for rising global food prices.
“We are now seeing efforts to shift the responsibility for what is happening on the world food market, for the emerging problems on this market, to Russia,” he said on national television.
The best solution, he said, would be for Western sanctions against Russia’s ally Belarus to be lifted and for Ukraine to export grain through Belarus.
Ukraine is counting on advanced missile systems that the United States and Britain recently pledged to swing the war in its favor, and Ukrainian troops have already begun training on them.
Ukraine’s resistance has forced Putin to narrow his immediate goal to conquering the entire Donbas region, but Ukrainian officials say he still intends to conquer the entire country.
“Putin’s main goal is the destruction of Ukraine. He is not backing down from his goals, regardless of the fact that Ukraine won the first stage of this conflict,” Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar told national television on Friday.
A Russian government spokesman said “certain results have been achieved” in the war and Moscow will continue its military operations until all goals are met.