Ukraine reported on Tuesday that Russia took control of most of the eastern industrial city of Severodonetska bombed-out wasteland that represents one of the main targets of the invasion.
The Russian assault on the city, located in the Ukrainian province of Lugansk, was met with stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces.
Russian-backed separatists in Luhansk acknowledged that the takeover of the city was taking longer than expected, despite one of the biggest ground attacks of the three-month war.
After failing to capture the Ukrainian capital, kyiv, and being driven out of northern Ukraine, a Russian victory at Severodonetsk and across the Siverski Donets River at Lisichansk, would mean full control of Lugansk, one of two eastern provinces that Moscow claims on behalf of the separatists.
Western military analysts claim that Moscow has withdrawn personnel and weapons from other parts of the Eastern Front to concentrate on Severodonetsk.hoping that a major offensive will secure the surrounding Lugansk province for separatists.
Luhansk Regional Governor Serhi Gaidai said almost all critical infrastructure in Severodonetsk had been destroyed and 60% of residential property damaged beyond repair.
“Most of Severodonetsk is under the control of the Russians. The city is not surrounded and there are no requirements for it to be surrounded,” Gaidai said. Russian bombing has made it impossible to deliver aid or evacuate people, he added.
A pro-Russian separatist leader said fighting was taking place in the city but had progressed more slowly than expected to “maintain the city’s infrastructure” and exercise caution around its chemical factories.
“We can say that a third of Severodonetsk is already under our control,” the Russian state news agency said. TASS quoting Leonid Pasechnik, pro-Russian leader of the Lugansk People’s Republic.
Gaidai warned Severodonetsk residents not to leave bomb shelters due to what he claimed was a Russian airstrike on a nitric acid tank.
The police of the Lugansk People’s Republic indicated that the Ukrainian forces had damaged it. Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists traded accusations over a similar incident in April. (Reuters)