Russia announced on Tuesday that it had captured 97 percent of one of the two provinces that make up Ukraine's Donbas, pushing the Kremlin closer to its objective of taking the eastern economic heartland of coal mines and factories.
According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Moscow's forces practically control the whole province of Luhansk. According to Ukrainian officials and military analysts, Russia now looks to control around half of Donetsk province.
After abandoning its failed attempt to seize Kyiv two months ago, Russia has announced that capturing the whole Donbas region is its top priority. Since 2014, separatists supported by Moscow have been fighting Ukrainian government forces in the Donbas, and the area has taken the brunt of the Russian assault in recent weeks.
Early in the battle, Russian troops also seized control of the whole southern region of Kherson and a substantial portion of the south of the territory of Zaporizhia. Russian leaders and their local appointees have discussed plans for these territories to declare independence or to be incorporated into Russia.
Before the February assault, the Ukrainian government estimated that Russia controlled 7 percent of the nation, including the 2014-annexed Crimean Peninsula and separatist-held territories in Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated last week that Russian soldiers now control 20% of the country.
Despite the greater firepower of the Kremlin's soldiers, the Ukrainian defenders are entrenched and have demonstrated the capacity to counterattack.
Shoigu, the Russian minister of defense, stated that Moscow's soldiers have seized the residential areas of Sievierodonetsk and are fighting for control of the city's industrial zone and surrounding towns.
In recent weeks, Sievierodonetsk and adjacent Lysychansk have witnessed intense warfare. They are among the few cities and towns in the Luhansk region that are still resisting the Russian invasion, with assistance from local pro-Kremlin soldiers.
Shoigu stated that Russian troops were advancing toward Popasna and had taken control of Lyman, Sviatohirsk, and fifteen other towns in the region.
The adviser to the Ukrainian president, Mykhailo Podolyak, urged his fellow citizens not to be disheartened by their defeats on the battlefield.
"Don't be alarmed by the news that we've surrendered something," he said in a video address. "It is evident that continual tactical moves are occurring. We surrender something and regain something."
Luhansk, The governor of Sievierodonetsk, Serhiy Haidai, acknowledged that Russian forces dominate the industrial fringes of Sievierodonetsk.
The fiercest street skirmishes continue with various degrees of success, according to Haidai. The situation is in constant flux, but the Ukrainians successfully repelled attacks.
In addition, Moscow's soldiers continued their artillery bombardment of Lysychansk. According to Haidai, Russian troops shelled and destroyed a market, a school, and a college building, and he stated that at least three persons were injured.
"The destruction of the city is in progress. In the previous twenty-four hours, Russian bombardment has intensified considerably. "The Russians are employing a scorched-earth strategy," stated Haidai.
Insisting that Ukraine must beat Russia on the battlefield, Zelenskyy said Tuesday at a Financial Times conference that he remains ready for peace negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Financial Times also regretted that Western sanctions "have not significantly affected the Russian position."
In the meantime, the United States military has begun training Ukrainian forces on the advanced multiple rocket launchers that the Biden administration promised to deliver last week. According to the Pentagon, training takes place at a site in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, is a truck-mounted system that can transport six rockets reaching approximately 45 miles (70 kilometers). Officials estimated that three weeks of training would be required before soldiers could be deployed to the battlefield.
The war also resulted in a confrontation between the head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency and Ukrainian authorities on Tuesday over Europe's largest nuclear power plant.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, the International Atomic Energy Agency director, plans to visit the Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine to help maintain its safety after Russian troops seized it in March.
However, Energoatom, the Ukrainian government agency in charge of the country's nuclear plants, issued a direct statement stating that Grossi is not welcome. According to the report, his upcoming visit is "yet another attempt to legitimize the occupier's presence there."
Amid fears of a global food catastrophe resulting from the war, the Kremlin stated that Ukraine must remove sea mines near the Black Sea port of Odesa to begin crucial grain exports.
However, Ukrainian officials have expressed fear that removing the explosives could facilitate an attack by Moscow's soldiers.