Fighting raged in two key eastern Ukrainian cities on the 100th day of Russia's war, with both Moscow and Kiev claiming progress on the battlefront.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Friday that Russian troops have succeeded in their main stated task of "protecting civilians" in the separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine.
He added that Russian forces have "liberated" parts of Ukraine and that "this work will continue until all the goals of the special military operation are achieved."
Russian forces have been trying to encircle the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk province.
The Ukrainian head of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, told national television Friday that Ukraine had recaptured a large piece of territory in Sievierodonetsk. He said Ukrainian troops had retaken about 20% of the ground they had previously lost to the Russians.
Gaidai said that Russian troops are making advances only with heavy artillery, and that once Ukraine has enough Western long-range weapons, it will be able to force the Russians to retreat.
The United States and Britain pledged this week to send Ukraine advanced missile systems. Ukraine's Defense Ministry said Friday that soldiers had already begun training in Europe to operate the weapons.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address Friday, "We have defended Ukraine for 100 days already," adding, "Victory will be ours."
In a statement Friday about the 100th day of the invasion, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “The conflict has already taken thousands of lives, caused untold destruction, displaced millions of people, resulted in unacceptable violations of human rights and is inflaming a three-dimensional global crisis – food, energy and finance – that is pummeling the most vulnerable people, countries and economies.”
Guterres said, “The sooner the parties engage in good-faith diplomatic efforts to end this war, the better for the sake of Ukraine, Russia and the world. The United Nations stands ready to support all such efforts.”
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.