As Invasion Enters 100th Day, Russia Now Holds 20% Of Ukraine: Zelensky
As the Russian invasion has entered its 100th day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has confirmed that Russian forces are now in control of 20% of Ukraine's territory.
"As of today, about 20% of our territory is under the control of the occupiers, almost 125 thousand square kilometers. This is much larger than the area of all the Benelux countries combined," he said in a virtual address before Luxembourg lawmakers.
"All combat-ready Russian military formations are involved in this aggression," he told MPs, describing that the front line extends for over 1,000km (or 621 miles).
This as it now appears Russia is poised to also seize the key city of Severodonetsk in the Donbas amid continuing fierce street-to-street fighting. If subdued, this would put the Russian army in control over all of Luhansk province.
The BBC has meanwhile cited UK defense officials who say most of the city is currently in Russian control and that Kremlin forces are making "steady local gains, enabled by a heavy concentration of artillery."
Despite Zelensky and his Western backers lately admitting a steady Russian advance, the Ukrainian leader issued a high Russia death toll in the address to Luxembourg MPs, claiming that more than 30,000 Russian troops have died.
"That's greater than the death toll of the Soviet Union in 10 years of war in Afghanistan, greater than Russia’s death toll in two Chechen wars," according to Zelensky, who did not divulge Ukrainian losses. International correspondents have not been able to verify these Ukrainian claims, which also have been advanced by some Western pundits.
Russian sniper reportedly with a captured Desert Tech SRS-A2 Covert rifle in the Avdiivka area.https://t.co/T9g44AcXmx pic.twitter.com/zCcxnQxJKk— Rob Lee (@RALee85) June 2, 2022
Interestingly, he further called Ukraine a "de facto part of the European Union" - while requesting the urgent ramping up of more weapons and military aid.
As for Severodonetsk, the easternmost city which is still barely under Ukrainian control at this point, Zelensky said Ukrainian forces will continue to mount counter-attacks "pushing back the enemy on some streets and taking several prisoners." He also described that attempts at evacuating the some 15,000 civilians that still remain are "extremely dangerous". He said Ukrainian forces had experienced "some success" in battles in Severodonetsk, but overall painted a bleak picture.