The fight for Sievierodonetsk in detail
Ukrainian forces have pulled back to the outskirts of the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk amid a fierce Russian assault, the regional governor said, a decisive moment in one of the key battles of the conflict.
Russian forces have been focused for weeks now on seizing the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk, home to some 106,000 people before the conflict erupted, but the governor said Ukrainian forces would not surrender.
After claiming to have pushed Russian forces back and secured half of the city last week, the governor of the surrounding Luhansk region said on Wednesday afternoon that most of the city was again under Russian control.
“Our (forces) now again control only the outskirts of the city. But the fighting is still going on… it is impossible to say the Russians completely control the city,” Serhiy Gaidai told the RBC-Ukraine media outlet.
He had said earlier in the day that Russian forces would increase their shelling and bombardment of both Sievierodonetsk and its smaller twin city of Lysychansk on the west bank of the Siverskyi Donets River.
Luhansk and the adjacent province of Donetsk form the Donbas, much of which has been claimed by Moscow for Russian-speaking separatists who have held eastern parts of the region since 2014.
Sievierodonetsk’s capture would allow Russia troops to push deeper into the eastern Donbas region and Ukraine’s de facto administrative center there, Kramatorsk.
Russian troops have ten times more equipment than Ukrainian forces in some areas of Sievierodonetsk, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told a briefing.
“The absolutely heroic defense of Donbas is ongoing,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video statement on Tuesday.
“It is absolutely felt that the occupiers didn’t believe the resistance of our military would be so strong and now they are trying to bring in new resources towards the Donbas,” he said.