After reclaiming territory from Russia over the weekend, Ukrainian forces in the eastern city of Severodonetsk are under renewed attack, the region’s top official said on Monday.
The fiercest battles continue here,” Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said in a television interview.
“Our defenders managed to counterattack for a while – they liberated almost half of the city. However, now the situation has worsened for us again.”
Hayday said the Russians are using “standard scorched-earth tactics,” and that evacuation of the approximately 15,000 civilians remaining in Severodonetsk is impossible because of intense fighting.
He said Russia is targeting most of its shelling at the neighboring city of Lysychansk, which sits on strategic high ground across the Siverskyi Donets River from Severodonetsk.
“From there, it is much easier to defend and maintain a defensive line,” Hayday said. “They are still destroying houses and humanitarian aid centers.”
He said a further 15,000 civilians remained in Lysychansk and that police are managing to evacuate a small number of them
Finally, he said that Russia has devoted a “simply incredible” number of troops and equipment to bombarding the main access road to Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, which runs between Bakhmut and Lysychansk.
“The Russians do not control this road, but the entire route is being shelled,” he said. “The Russians have amassed huge reserves. Time will tell whether they will have enough strength to take this route.”