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War's 100th day: Ukraine says 20% of its territory under Russian control

A local resident sits near her apartment building, as police officers stand, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, on June 2, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Russian forces continue to push for full control of the breakaway Donbas region in eastern Ukraine as the military operation completes 100 days.

Kiev announced on Friday that Russian forces were now in control of one-fifth of the restive Ukrainian territory.

“Today, about 20 percent of our territory is under the control," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Luxembourg lawmakers, in a candid acknowledgment of setbacks.

Moscow is pushing for complete control of the Donbas region, where pro-Russia forces held parts of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces even before the Russian military operation began in late February. 

On Thursday, Russian forces advanced deep into the ruined eastern factory city of Sievierodonetsk, one of the several urban hubs that lie on Russia's path to capturing Luhansk.

Russia already controls about 80 percent of the key industrial city.

Luhansk regional governor, Sergiy Gaiday, has vowed that Ukrainian forces will fight “till the end.”

In a Twitter post on Friday, Britain's Defense Ministry claimed that Moscow has failed to achieve its initial objectives to seize Kiev, but said it was achieving tactical success in Donbas and was controlling more than 90 percent of Luhansk oblast.

Russia launched the military operation in Ukraine in late February. Western countries have responded by supplying Ukraine with cash and heavy weaponry while imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russian officials and entities.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that Western support would indefinitely prolong the war.

On Friday, the Kremlin said Russia had achieved some results from its military campaign in Ukraine.

"Certain results have been achieved," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about the first 100 days of what Russia calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Russia says it sent its forces into Ukraine to defend residents of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, from Kiev's military. 

"In terms of ensuring their protection, measures are being taken and certain results have been achieved," Peskov said.

"Many settlements have been liberated from the pro-Nazi armed forces of Ukraine and directly from nationalist elements," he said.

"This work will continue until the time when all of the goals of the military operation are achieved." 

NATO chief: West must brace for 'war of attrition'  

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that Western nations need to brace for a long "war of attrition" in Ukraine, stressing that it is difficult to predict how or when the conflict will end.

Stoltenberg made the remarks while speaking to reporters outside the White House following a meeting with US President Joe Biden.

"We just have to be prepared for the long haul," he said. "Because what we see is that this war has now become a war of attrition."

Stoltenberg said NATO has a "responsibility" to support Ukraine, while reiterating that the Western military alliance does not want to enter into direct confrontation with Russia.

He warned that a “full-fledged war” between NATO and Russia would result in even more deaths and destruction. “We provide support to Ukraine, but we’re not part of the conflict,” he said.

Asked if Ukraine was being pressured by the West to accept losses of territory in order to negotiate peace, Stoltenberg said it was "not for us to decide or to have strong opinions what Ukraine should accept or not accept."

On Friday, Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he believed the Kremlin was trying to move the war into a "protracted phase" by building layered defenses in occupied regions in the south of the country.

"The Kremlin is trying to move the war into a protracted phase," He told the GLOBSEC 2022 Bratislava Forum by video link.

"Instead of advancing, the Russian armies are constructing layered defenses" in southern occupied regions, primarily Kherson, he said.

The city of Kherson, the provincial capital of nearly 250,000 people, was the first key urban center to be captured by Russian troops after Moscow launched a military campaign against Ukraine in late February.

UN: War 'will have no winner'

The United Nations said there would be no winner from Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

"This war has and will have no winner. Rather, we have witnessed for 100 days what is lost: lives, homes, jobs and prospects," UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine Amin Awad said in a statement.

Awad said, nearly 14 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes, the majority women and children, in the past three months.

The UN said cereal prices have surged because of a slump in exports from Ukraine, sharpening the impact of conflict and climate change and sparking fears of social unrest.

"We need peace. The war must end now," the UN said in a statement.

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