03 February 2023,   18:19
141st day of war - Russian artillery and rockets pounded the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut

On the 141st day of war Russian and proxy forces have reportedly entered the town of Siversk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, according to Russian media reports. State news agency TASS quoted Vitaly Kiselyov, an official from the self-appointed Luhansk People’s Republic, as saying the town could fall within a couple of days, but it was not clear what that claim was based on, writes The Guardian.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has ruled out ceding territory to Russia as part of any ceasefire deal. In a briefing, Kuleba said no peace talks were under way between Moscow and Kyiv “because of Russia’s position and its continued aggression against our country”.

Russia has forcibly removed nearly 2 million people from Ukraine, including several hundred thousand children, since its invasion of the country, President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian are being held in filtration camps in the temporarily Russian-occupied territories, he added.

The death toll from a weekend Russian missile attack on a residential apartment block in Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine has risen to at least 47. According to Kyiv, the residential building was hit by Russian rockets fired from truck-borne systems late on Saturday evening. The Ukrainian emergency services initially gave a death toll of 10, but as rescue teams continued to comb through the debris that number rose.

Russian forces will probably focus on taking several small Donbas towns during the coming week, including Siversk and Dolyna on the approaches to Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, according to the UK Ministry of Defence. “The urban areas of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk likely remain the principal objectives for this phase of the operation”, - the British intelligence report said.

Russian artillery and rockets pounded the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut overnight and into Wednesday morning in what some sources speculated was a reprisal for a Ukrainian attack using a US-supplied Himars missile system on a Russian air defence site in Luhansk. Others suggested the shelling could signal a renewed Russian offensive aimed at cities in Donetsk province.