The defense of the city of Severodonetsk, which is central to the Kremlin’s goal of capturing eastern Ukraine, continues in the face of fierce artillery bombardment and airstrikes. Ukraine continues to have a “distinct disadvantage in terms of artillery systems” compared with Russia, according to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank, despite pleas from Ukrainian leaders for help from Western countries.

Here are updates from across the country:

Severodonetsk: One of Ukraine’s last holdouts in the Luhansk region, the city has been shattered by intense fighting. But it remains unclear how much of the city invaders now control as battles continue over the Azot industrial zone and the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway. Meanwhile, Russian forces have shelled neighboring cities that could supply Ukraine’s troops.

Elsewhere in Donbas: “Russia wants to destroy every city in Donbas,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday as fierce fighting continued. “Like Volnovakha, like Mariupol. All these ruins in once happy cities, black traces of fires, craters from explosions — this is all that Russia can give to its neighbors, Europe and the world.” Images collected by U.S. satellite company Maxar Technologies show cratered fields and entire city blocks pulverized in Luhansk and Donetsk, where Russia’s attacks have been focused in recent weeks. In Rubizhne, just up the road from Severodonetsk, before-and-after pictures show parts of the city reduced to rubble.

Kherson: Ukraine said Friday that Russian forces are fortifying defenses after its troops launched a successful counterattack against Russian forces around Kherson and reclaimed some of the territory previously lost in this southern region. The ISW said this week that Moscow is stepping up operations in part of the region following Ukrainian counterstrikes.

Mariupol: The Russian military is struggling to provide basic public services to civilians, according to the British Defense Ministry. Residents have no access to adequate social or medical services in the city, which is at risk of a major cholera outbreak. The cholera cases reported since May are especially concerning as the medical system is reportedly near collapse as a result of mismanagement by Russian authorities, according to the ISW.

Reis Thebault and Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.



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