Russia on Thursday made an all-out effort to capture the rest of the industrial region of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, officials said, as President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of seeking to commit "genocide" across the eastern Donbas.
As the fighting intensified, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba aired Kyiv s increasing frustration with the West, accusing allies of dragging their feet on arms deliveries and telling his German counterpart that Ukraine needs heavy weapons "as soon as possible."
Russian forces are now closing in on several urban centres, including the strategically located Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. Lugansk is part of the Donbas, the industrial basin comprising that region and Donetsk.
"The situation remains difficult, because the Russian army has thrown all its forces at taking the Lugansk region," regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in a video on Telegram.
"Extremely fierce fighting is taking place on the outskirts of Severodonetsk. They are simply destroying the city, they are shelling it every day, shelling without pause."
Russian forces also bombarded Ukraine s second city Kharkiv, killing nine people, and five civilians were killed Thursday in the Donetsk region to the south, according to the governor.
In his daily televised address, Zelensky said Moscow was pursuing an "obvious policy of genocide" in the Donbas -- after failing to take the capital Kyiv -- and its bombardments could leave the entire region "uninhabited".
Kyiv has been losing patience with what it views as the West s failure to quickly arm Ukraine and impose a ban on Russian oil exports on top of punishing economic sanctions already in place.
"We need more heavy weapons delivered as soon as possible, especially MLRS (multiple launch rocket systems) to repel Russian attacks," Kuleba wrote on Twitter after speaking with Germany s Annalena Baerbock.