Serhiy Haidai, head of the regional military administration in the eastern Luhansk region — part of the Donbas — said shelling that started Wednesday in Severodonetsk continued into Thursday and has killed four civilians.
“The Russians used aircraft to destroy civilian objects in the areas of the settlements of Loskutivka, Katerynivka and Orikhove. They carried out assaults in the Ustynivka and Zolotoho-4 areas, but were unsuccessful,” Haidai said on the messaging app Telegram. He added that Russian forces had also cut electricity at a power substation, leaving the Lysychansk area “without light.”
By contrast, in Kyiv, whose suburbs were once the target of constant Russian bombardment, a sense of normality is steadily being restored, with the reopening of foreign embassies and some local businesses. Still, many shops remain shuttered Thursday, and rush-hour traffic this week was well below pre-war levels.
The U.S. Embassy reopened Wednesday — the same day that the Senate confirmed Bridget Brink as the new American ambassador to Kyiv. Brink is a veteran diplomat.
Also Wednesday, Russia announced that it would organize a press tour of Mariupol in an apparent victory lap, but Ukraine denounced it as a “disinformation” ploy and warned journalists against attending.
“The enemy’s primary goal is to discredit Ukraine’s role in this war,” Ukrainian Culture and Information Policy Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said. “Currently, special ‘decorations’ for the foreign media have already been brought in: the fragments of Ukrainian ammunition collected from the occupied areas of Donetsk region, the crowd and actors who will be introduced as local eyewitnesses.”
The war, which has displaced more than 11 million Ukrainians and galvanized global powers against Russian President Vladimir Putin, has wrought major changes in Europe’s security architecture.
On Wednesday, Sweden and Finland formally applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The move, which was anticipated for weeks and welcomed by the U.S. and several major NATO member states, reversed decades-long positions of military nonalignment for the two Nordic nations. But the president of Turkey, which is a member of the alliance, reiterated his opposition Thursday to the two countries’ candidacy, throwing doubt on their applications.
President Joe Biden is scheduled Thursday to meet with the leaders of Sweden and Finland in Washington.
The meeting will give the three countries a chance “to coordinate on the path forward” and to “compare notes,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.
Putin has cited NATO’s long-term eastward expansion — in particular, prior Ukrainian interest in joining the alliance — as among the reasons for his war. He has also falsely claimed that the Kyiv government is run by Nazis.
(McDonnell reported from Kyiv and Kaleem from London.)©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.