KYIV—Ukraine pleaded to Western countries for faster deliveries of weapons as better-armed Russian forces pounded the east of the country.
In Sievierodonetsk, the small city that has become the focus of Russia’s advance in eastern Ukraine and one of the bloodiest flashpoints in a war well into its fourth month, further heavy fighting was reported.
The war in the east, where Russia is focussing its attention, is now primarily an artillery battle in which Kyiv is severely outgunned, Ukrainian officials say.
“This is an artillery war now,” Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy head of military intelligence, told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.
Germany, among the largest suppliers of weapons, since Russia invaded, plans to revise its rules on arms exports to make it easier to arm democracies like Ukraine, Der Spiegel reported on Friday.
In a snapshot of the war’s wider impact, the U.N. food agency said reduced exports of wheat and other food commodities from Ukraine and Russia could inflict chronic hunger on up to 19 million more people globally over the next year.
Russia is hoping to capture all of the eastern province of Luhansk, which it demands Ukraine cede to separatists along with neighboring Donetsk. The two provinces make up the Donbass region, where Moscow has backed a revolt by separatist proxies since 2014.
To that end, the Kremlin has concentrated its forces on a battle for Sievierodonetsk, which is in Luhansk.
Ukrainian troops have largely pulled out of the city’s residential areas but have not yielded their foothold on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets River. Russian forces are also pushing from the north and south to try to encircle the Ukrainians, but have made limited progress.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia was trying to “break every town in the Donbass.”
Both sides say they have inflicted mass casualties. Reuters could not immediately verify battlefield reports.
Asked in a social media interview whether that suggested the Ukrainian army had lost up to 10,000 fighters in the first 100 days of the war, Arestovych said, “Yes, something like that.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday reinforced Washington’s commitment to the region in light of Russia’s actions.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is what happens when oppressors trample the rules that protect us all,” Austin told an Asian security forum in Singapore. “It’s a preview of a possible world of chaos and turmoil that none of us would want to live in.”
By Natalia Zinets and Max Hunder