The Russian army is “suffering huge losses” as Ukraine claws back a chunk of the industrial centre of Severodonetsk, a local governor said.
Sergiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk, told national television that while Russia had “previously managed to capture most of the city,” Ukrainian troops had now retaken 20 per cent of the lost territory.
He said it was “not realistic” the city would fall in the next two weeks, despite Russian forces “throwing all their reserves at Severodonetsk”.
“As soon as we have enough Western long-range weapons, we will push their artillery away from our positions. And then, believe me, the Russian infantry, they will just run,” Mr Gaidai said.
Ukrainian officials are counting on advanced missile systems that the United States and Britain recently pledged to swing the war in their favour, and Ukrainian troops have already begun training on them.
Russia’s army said that some Ukrainian military units were withdrawing from the key city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine.
“Some units of the Ukrainian army, having suffered critical losses during fighting for Severodonetsk, are pulling out towards Lysychansk,” Severodonetsk’s twin city, which sits just across a river, the defence ministry said in a statement.
It added however that some Ukrainian fighters were still in the city.
Finland and Sweden joining Nato would put Russia in a difficult military position in the Baltic Sea, Mark Milley, a top US General said during a visit to Stockholm ahead of a military exercise.
The two Nordic neighbours, which both have long borders on the Baltic Sea, applied last month to join the military alliance amid security concerns after Russia invaded Ukraine.
A Nato summit in Madrid at the end of June is not a deadline for a decision on Sweden and Finland’s membership bids, which are opposed by Ankara, the Turkish president’s spokesman said.
Sweden and Finland applied to join the Western defence alliance last month in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but their bids have faced resistance from Turkey, which has accused them of supporting Kurdish militants.