The Ukraine military claims it routed an elite Russian regiment in the Donbas region amid conflicting reports on the fate of the crucial city of Sievierodonetsk.
The “invaders” were trying to cut through a strategically important highway in eastern Ukraine when paratroopers from Ukraine’s 80th Brigade halted the advance, the brigade said in a Facebook post.
“The enemy has not gotten through! Units of the 80th separate paratrooping brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to inflict losses on Russian occupants,” the post claimed. “This ‘striped elite’ retreated, leaving in the forest the bodies of their dead.”
The focus of the war has turned to the eastern Donbas that includes the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Russia claims to control 97% of Luhansk.
Sievierodonetsk is one of just two Luhansk cities not yet completely under Russian control. Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai told the Associated Press that “maybe we will have to retreat, but right now battles are ongoing in the city.” Haidai suggested that positions across the river, in Lysychansk, could be easier to defend.
But in a social media post, Haidai wrote that “nobody is going to surrender Sievierodonetsk!”
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►The World Bank predicted Tuesday that the global economy will expand 2.9% this year, down from its 4.1% forecast in January and an even bigger dip from the 5.7% growth in 2021. The agency cited the war in Ukraine, the prospect of widespread food shortages and inflation as reasons for the downgrade.
►The U.S. military has begun training Ukrainian forces on the sophisticated rocket systems the Biden administration agreed last week to provide to better fend off the Russian attacks. About three weeks of training are expected to be required.
The families of two British soldiers held captive by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine say the men are not mercenaries and should be treated as prisoners of war. Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 24, had brief court appearances this week in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. They could face the death penalty if convicted on charges of commission of crime by a group, violent seizure of power or retention of power by force, mercenarism and training for terrorist activity. Both families say they are working with the British and Ukraine governments in hopes of winning release.
Denis Pushilin, president of the Donetsk People’s Republic, told Russian TV “the crimes they committed were monstrous.”
“Aiden is a much-loved man and very much missed,” his family statement said. “We hope that he will be released very soon.”
WNBA star Brittney Griner remains locked in a Russian prison, her case tangled up with that of lesser-known American Paul Whelan. He has been held in Russia since his December 2018 arrest on espionage charges he and the U.S. government say are false. He was left out of a prisoner exchange in April that brought home yet another detainee, Marine veteran Trevor Reed. That has escalated pressure on the Biden administration to avoid another one-for-one swap that does not include Whelan in favor of Griner, an Olympic gold medalist whose case has drawn global attention.
“It’s still very raw,” Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth Whelan, said of her brother being excluded from the Reed deal. “And to think we might have to go through that again if Brittney is brought home first is just terrible.”
Contributing: The Associated Press