Russian troops entered Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine (AP) – The Russian-defeated eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk on Monday appeared on the verge of becoming another Mariupol, as the mayor told the Associated Press that Russian troops had entered, electricity and communications were cut off and “the city was completely destroyed.”

Moscow seeks to capture the entire industrial region of Ukraine in the Donbass, and Sevrodonetsk – the key to this. Fierce street fights are taking place in the city, when Ukrainian defenders are trying to oust the Russians, Mayor Alexander Stryuk told AP in a telephone interview. Russian troops have advanced several blocks to the city center, he said.

“The number of victims is growing every hour, but we can not count the dead and wounded during the street fighting,” – added the mayor. He said 12,000 to 13,000 civilians who remained in the city, which once held more than 100,000 people, were hiding in basements and bunkers to escape Russian bombing.

Russian troops stormed Severodonetsk after an unsuccessful attempt to encircle it, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the situation “unspeakably difficult.” Russian artillery destroyed critical infrastructure and damaged 90% of buildings. The mayor estimates that 1,500 civilians have been killed since the start of the war by Russian attacks, as well as a lack of medicine and treatment.

Severodonetsk, located 143 kilometers (89 miles) south of the Russian border, has recently become the epicenter of fighting in the Donbass. Mariupol is a city on the Sea of ​​Azov that spent almost three months under Russian siege before the last Ukrainian militants capitulated.

The Ukrainian military said Russian troops were strengthening their positions on the northeastern and southeastern outskirts of Severodonetsk and bringing in additional equipment and ammunition to carry out the offensive.

The governor of the Luhansk region Sergei Gaidai said that the Russians are also moving towards neighboring Lysychansk. He said two civilians had been killed and five others wounded in the latest Russian shelling during the war.

Severodonetsk and Lysychansk cover the strategically important river Seversky Donetsk. These are the last large areas under the control of Ukraine in Luhansk, which together with the adjacent Donetsk region is the Donbass.

The Institute for War Studies, a Washington-based think tank, has questioned the Kremlin’s strategy of amassing huge military efforts to seize Severodonetsk, saying it is costly and cost-effective for Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told French TV channel TF1 on Sunday that “Moscow’s unconditional priority is the liberation of Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” adding that Russia views them as “independent states.” He also suggested that other regions of Ukraine should be able to establish close ties with Russia.

The Ukrainian army has reported heavy fighting around Donetsk, the regional capital, and the estuary in the north, a small town that serves as a key railway hub in the region. “The enemy is strengthening its units,” said the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “She’s trying to gain a foothold in the area.”

Authorities in the Russian-backed separatist region say the latest Ukrainian shelling of Donetsk has killed at least five civilians, including a 13-year-old boy.

Zelensky on Monday will address the leaders of the European Union, who gathered in a new show of solidarity with Ukraine amid disagreements over whether to target Russian oil in a new series of sanctions. He has repeatedly called on the EU to target Russia’s lucrative energy sector and deprive Moscow of billions of dollars in supplies every day.

Zelensky on Sunday visited soldiers in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, where Ukrainian militants pushed back Russian forces from nearby positions a few weeks ago. Russia continued to bomb the northeastern city, and explosions could be heard shortly after Zelensky’s visit. The shelling and airstrikes have destroyed more than 2,000 apartment buildings since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, regional governor Oleg Sinegubov said.

In the vast Kharkiv region, Russian troops still hold about a third of the territory, Zelensky said.

Russian pressure also continued in the south on Monday. A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Kanashenko, said that as a result of an artillery strike on the shipyard in the southern port of Nikolaev, Ukrainian armored vehicles parked on its territory were destroyed.

In the Kherson region appointed by the Russian deputy head of the regional administration Kirill Stremusov told the Russian state agency TASS that grain from last year’s harvest is supplied to Russian buyers, adding that “there is obviously a lot of grain here. Ukraine has accused Russia of plundering grain from territories held by its troops, and the United States claims that Moscow is threatening global food supplies by preventing Ukraine from exporting its crops.

On Sunday in Mariupol, an aide to the Ukrainian mayor claimed that after Russian troops gained full control of the city, they laid the bodies of those killed in a supermarket. Petro Andryushchenko published a photo in the Telegram messaging program showing bodies stacked near closed supermarket shelves. It was not possible to verify his statement immediately.


Yuras Karmanau reported from Lviv. AP reporters around the world have contributed to this report.


Follow the coverage of the war in Ukraine in the AP at

Source link