Ukraine Will Recover Territory Taken By Russia, Zelenskiy Vows As Fighting In Donbas Rages


Ukraine will fight to recover all its territory that has been occupied by Russian forces, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said as Ukrainian forces struggled to hold on to the eastern city of Syevyerodonetsk.

The Ukrainian military reported that during the day on June 7 in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Russian troops fired on more than 16 settlements, killing one civilian and injuring six.

Ukrainian defenders repulsed 11 enemy attacks, and fighting was still going on at two locations, the military said. Ukrainian forces claimed to have destroyed three Russian tanks, five artillery systems, several vehicles, and three ammunition depots.

Air-defense units shot down two drones in the skies over the Donbas, the Ukrainian military said. None of the claims could be independently verified.

Zelenskiy said earlier that Ukrainian forces were still holding out in Syevyerodonetsk despite being outnumbered and outgunned by the Russian military.

He said intense house-to-house fighting and the Russians' indiscriminate shelling had turned Syevyerodonetsk and its twin city of Lysychansk into "dead cities."

Regional head Serhiy Hayday said on June 7 Ukrainian forces were finding it hard to stave off Russian attacks in the center of Syevyerodonetsk, but Moscow's forces did not control the city. Hayday also said Russian troops were constantly shelling Lysychansk, which lies across the Siverskiy Donets River.

If captured, the two strategic targets that are still in Ukrainian hands would deliver Russian forces the entire eastern Luhansk region.

The Ukrainian armed forces said in a morning update on June 7 that Russia's "main efforts" remain focused on Syevyerodonetsk and on nearby Bakhmut, where another counterattack had been launched.

The Russians' advance last month toward Popasna, some 50 kilometers south of Syevyerodonetsk, stalled last week, Britain's Defense Ministry said on June 7 in its daily intelligence bulletin.

The bulletin said that Moscow will "almost certainly" need to achieve a breakthrough either in Popasna, or north of Syevyerodonetsk, in the Izyum area if it wants to achieve "success and progress towards its political objective of controlling all of Donetsk Oblast."

Zelenskiy said in his nightly address on June 6 that there may be more than 2,500 prisoners from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol now detained by the Russians in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said the Russians' intentions regarding those prisoners were changing constantly. Moscow-backed separatist officials in Donetsk have spoken of putting some of the Azovstal defenders on trial for alleged human rights abuses in Ukraine.

The bodies of some Ukrainian troops killed during the siege of Azovstal have been returned by the Russian forces to Ukraine, the Association of Families of Azovstal Defenders said.

The association said forensic examination of the bodies may take up to three months. Relatives of the victims are participating in identification procedures.

The Ukrainian military said the Russians had handed over 210 bodies of Ukrainian fighters, most of whom who died defending the city of Mariupol from Russian forces at the vast steel works.

Mariupol residents have been facing a growing humanitarian crisis, compounded by acute shortages of food and water.

A Ukrainian official said June 6 that contamination from decomposing corpses and rubbish had sparked a cholera outbreak -- prompting a citywide quarantine.

"We are seeing the city get closed off," Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the city's mayor, told the media.

Zelenskiy also said the country is hoping to create secure corridors that would allow its ships to export grain from Black Sea ports blocked by the fighting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on June 7 arrived in Turkey for talks on unblocking grain exports from Ukraine.

Turkey has offered to escort maritime convoys from Ukraine's Black Sea ports, which have been blocked by Moscow's forces.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on June 7 said Poland was in the process of signing a wide-ranging treaty for the delivery of weapons to Ukraine.

The deal is "one of the biggest, if not the biggest weapons export deal of the last 30 years," Morawiecki said after visiting a Polish armaments company. He said the weapons would be critical in helping Ukraine drive out the Russian invaders.

He did not provide specifics on the kinds of weapons to be transferred or other details of the deal, but during a presentation at the company, he and Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak posed in front of self-propelled gun systems.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said radiation detectors in the exclusion zone around Ukraine's defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant are back online for the first time since Russia seized the area on February 24. Radiation levels are normal, the UN nuclear watchdog said.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, CNN, BBC, dpa, and AP