Hello. This is your Russia-Ukraine war briefing, a week’s guide to the latest news and analysis on the conflict.
The fall means that only the city of Lysychansk, across the river, prevents Russia from taking full control of the eastern region of Lugansk. Once Russia has Luhansk, it could then turn its attention to the neighboring region of Donetsk. Together, the two regions form the Donbass, the industrial heart of Ukraine.
Serhiy Haidai, head of the Luhansk region’s military administration, said it “doesn’t make sense” to hold positions in the city any longer. “The number of people killed will increase every day,” he said.
The Kremlin devoted much of its forces to taking Sievierodonetsk and the 30-mile-wide pocket of land surrounding it. To take the city, Russia had to devastate it with artillery strikes. About 90% of the buildings have been destroyed and only 8,000 civilians remain, according to Ukrainian officials.
The Ukrainians also put up fierce resistance at great cost, aimed at wearing down Russian troops and allowing the Ukrainian military to make gains elsewhere on the front.
“The Kremlin’s ideological fixation on taking Sievierodonetsk, much like the earlier siege of Azovstal, will likely come at the ultimate expense of Russian capabilities in future advances in Ukraine,” the Institute for the Study of War said. , a Washington-based research organization.
The battle will now turn to Lysychansk, which sits high on the western banks of the Siversky Donets River and is slowly being flanked by Russian forces from several directions. Unlike Sievierodonetsk, which is mostly flat terrain, the complex terrain of hills and ridges in and around Lysychansk provided the Ukrainians with multiple defensive positions.
Nevertheless, a soldier named Sergiy said that while Ukrainian troops held their positions for now, an order to retreat “could come at any time”.
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Romania is trying to fill the grain deficit
As war blocks Ukraine’s grain exports and famine threatens millions, the world scrambles to find new suppliers and alternative shipping routes.
Romania is a country trying to help fill the void, writes my colleague Patrician Cohen.
In many ways, it is well placed. Romania’s port of Constanta on the western Black Sea coast has provided a tiny but essential transit point for Ukrainian grain since the start of the war.
Romania’s agricultural production is dominated by that of Ukraine, but it is one of the largest grain exporters in the EU The country sent 60% of its wheat abroad last year , mainly in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East. This year, the government has allocated 500 million euros ($527 million) to support agriculture and maintain production.
But the Eastern European nation faces many challenges.
Although its farmers benefit from higher prices, they face soaring costs for diesel, pesticides and fertilizers. Transport infrastructure across the country and at its ports is neglected and outdated, slowing the transit of its own exports and hampering efforts to help Ukraine get its agricultural products out.
During a visit to Kyiv last week, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that since the start of the invasion, more than a million tonnes of Ukrainian grain had passed through Constanta to places around the world.
But logistical problems prevent more grain from making the trip. Ukraine’s railway gauges are wider than those elsewhere in Europe. Shipments must be transferred across the border to Romanian trains, or each wagon must be lifted from a Ukrainian running gear to a train that can be used on Romanian tracks.
Over the past two months, the Romanian government has spent money cleaning hundreds of rusting carriages from the railway tracks and restoring tracks abandoned when the communist regime fell in 1989.
But trucks entering and leaving Constanta from the highway must share a single-lane carriageway. An attendant monitors the gate, which must be raised for each vehicle.
When the bulk of the Romanian harvest begins to arrive at the terminals in the next two weeks, the congestion will worsen considerably.
“Port Constanta is not prepared for such an opportunity,” said Chipaila Mircea, a farmer who grows barley, corn and wheat in southeastern Romania. “They don’t have the infrastructure.”
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