Russian forces have entered Kreminna, a town in the eastern Luhansk region that has been bombarded for weeks as Russian forces push westwards in Donbas, a senior Ukrainian official said.
"The Russians entered Kreminna. Street fights began," said Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, in a brief Facebook post early Monday.
The Russians had entered the town with "a huge amount of equipment," he said.
The offensive has begun," he said.
The Russians have been trying to break Ukrainian resistance in Kreminna and a string of towns and cities in Luhansk as they try to advance towards the borders of both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions — the declared goal of President Vladimir Putin's "special military mission."
Evacuation was now impossible, Haidai said.
"We planned the evacuation, literally along forest paths, so that the people would not come under fire. But overnight the situation changed. While fighting [has broken out] in the city, it is unrealistic to count the civilians who remain there," Haidai said.
Haidai said the Olympus sports facility in Kreminna was "burning down" and that fire was now covering an area of 2,400 square meters.
"Rescuers are working hard as there is a forest near the center," he said.
Haidai said that elsewhere in the region two people had been killed and four injured in Zolote, while seven people had been recovered from the rubble of a building destroyed in Rubizhne.
On Sunday evening, Russian forces fired at a police building in Lysychansk, Haidai said, injuring six policemen.
The shelling continues, he said.