Ukraine says Russia looks for weak points in Ukrainian defenses near key river

An aerial view of burnt vehicles across the Siverskyi Donets River
An aerial view of burnt vehicles and the remains of what appears to be a makeshift bridge across the Siverskyi Donets River, eastern Ukraine, in this handout image uploaded on May 12, 2022. Ukrainian Airborne Forces Command/Handout via REUTERS

KYIV, June 10 (Reuters) - Russia is looking for weak points in Ukrainian defences near the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian Defence Ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said on Friday.

He told national television that Russian forces had not abandoned attempts to launch storming operations in the area.

If Russia captures the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk on the Siverskyi Donets, it will hold all of Luhansk, one of two provinces in the Donbas region that Moscow claims on behalf of separatists. read more

"Russia's strategic goal is the complete destruction of Ukraine ... They won't let us live in peace," Motuzyanyk said.

"The Russian Federation wants to completely destroy Ukrainian statehood and install a government it can control here."

Russia has previously denied such assertions. It says its "special military operation" in Ukraine is intended to disarm and "denazify" its neighbour. Ukraine and its allies call the invasion an unprovoked war of aggression.

Motuzyanyk said the situation was calmer in southern Ukraine, where Russia is trying to impose its rule on a tract of occupied territory spanning Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces.

He gave no details.

Nataliya Gumenyuk, a spokesperson for Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine, said Russia had 40 cruise missiles targeting Ukraine from the sea. She did not say how Ukraine obtained the information and Reuters was unable to verify her remarks.

"We must be prepared for increased missile attacks," she told national television.

Reporting By Natalia Zinets, Editing by Timothy Heritage

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