On Thursday, June 2, Russian forces attempted to expand and consolidate their control over Ukraine’s industrial city of Sievierodonetsk. They were also gaining closer to winning a major prize in their offensive within the eastern Donbas. The United States announced a $700million weapons package for Kyiv, which will include advanced rocket systems capable of reaching speeds up to 80 km (50 mi) and support for Ukraine, which is locked in a struggle against Russia’s invading army. Russia claimed that the United States had added fuel to the fire. Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, stated that the United States’ supply of rocket launchers increased the possibility of a third country being drawn into the conflict.
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, stated that Ukraine had made a promise not to use its systems to strike targets in Russia. President Joe Biden hopes that Russia will use its artillery to expand its reach to Ukraine to help negotiate an end to the war. Russian troops are moving through the streets of the city after days of fighting around Sievierodonetsk. Much of it has been destroyed by Russian bombardment. According to Ukraine, 70% of the city is now under Russian control. There are also Russian troops in the center.
According to the general staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, “The enemy is conducting an assault operation in the settlement at Sievierodonetsk.” They also stated that Russian forces were attacking other parts of the east or northeast. Other officials confirmed that at least four civilians were killed in the northeast and another 10 were wounded. Russia denies targeting civilians.
Russia could capture all of Luhansk if it captured Sievierodonetsk along with its smaller twin Lysychansk located on the west bank of the Siverskyi Donets River. This is one of two Donbas provinces that Moscow claims for separatists. The British defense ministry stated in its daily intelligence updates that Russia had captured most of the city. It had a population of just over 101,000 before the war and Ukrainian forces had destroyed bridges crossing the river to Lysychansk.
The capture of all of Luhansk would fulfill one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main goals and solidify a shift of battlefield momentum after his forces were driven back from Kyiv and northern Ukraine.
Since the invasion began, thousands of people have been killed and many more have been displaced. The Ukrainian grain traders’ union stated that this year’s wheat harvest would drop to 19.2million tonnes, down from 33 million in 2021. Nearly a third global wheat supply is held by Russia and Ukraine. However, Russia is a key exporter of fertilizers and Ukraine is a major supplier of corn oil and sunflower oil.
Biden will meet NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington on Thursday. Stoltenberg said to reporters that he would soon host a meeting in Brussels with Finnish, Swedish, and Turkish officials to discuss Turkey’s opposition to Sweden joining NATO.