The key eastern Ukraine city of Severodonetsk is now “largely” under Russian control after fierce fighting, while its twin city of Lysychansk is suffering enormous destruction, the region’s governor said on Wednesday.
Moscow’s forces “control a large part of Severodonetsk. The industrial zone is still ours, there are no Russians there. The fighting is only going on in the streets inside the city”, Sergei Gaidai, governor of the Lugansk region, said on Telegram.
“The Russians are shooting at everything, they are destroying all the houses in Severodonetsk, with tanks, artillery. They are shooting at the industrial zone too, but the fighting is going on, our guys are resisting in the streets,” he added.
The strategic city has become the focus of Russia’s offensive as it seeks to seize an eastern swathe of Ukraine, after being repelled from the capital Kyiv and other parts of the country.
The cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which are separated by a river, were the last areas still under Ukrainian control in Lugansk.
Lysychansk remains fully under the control of the Ukrainian army but is under “powerful and chaotic” shelling, Gaidai said, accusing Russian forces of deliberately targeting hospitals and humanitarian aid distribution centres.
“The destruction is enormous.”
Earlier Wednesday, Gaidai admitted that Ukrainian forces “may have to withdraw” soon from Severodonetsk in view of the Russian onslaught, to better fortified positions.
The Russian army is trying to conquer the entire Donbas region, a mining basin in eastern Ukraine formed by the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.