Sievierodonetsk and its neighboring city, Lysychansk, continue to be battered by intense Russian bombardment as Moscow moves closer to capturing the last pocket of resistance in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Wednesday that Russian forces were moving towards Lysychansk, targeting buildings of police, state security and prosecutors.
“Lysychansk is constantly suffering from enemy fire…Massive shelling has significantly destroyed infrastructure and housing,” Haidai said in a post on Telegram.
Sievierodonetsk is also bombed “every day”, he added.
Ukrainian officials have said the next few days will be decisive in Russia’s efforts to take Sievierodonetsk, as fears in Kyiv grow that Russian advances could envelop the entire region.
Russia is now believed to control all of Sievierodonetsk except for the Azot chemical plant, where around 500 Ukrainian citizens and an unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers are hiding.
Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Tuesday evening that Russian forces could soon cut off Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk from Ukrainian-held territory.
“The threat of a Russian tactical victory is there, but they haven’t done it yet,” he said in an online video.
Russia has aimed to capture Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk for months, bombing much of the region’s civilian infrastructure in the process.
Control of the two cities would give Moscow command of the entire Luhansk region and allow its forces to concentrate on the neighboring Donetsk region. The provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk combined are known as Donbass.
During his nightly video address on Tuesday, Zelenskiy admitted that the military situation in Lugansk was very difficult as Russia stepped up its efforts to drive Ukrainian troops out of key areas.
“It’s really the most difficult place. The occupants are pushing hard,” he said.
In its latest intelligence briefing, the British Ministry of Defense said that Russia was “most likely preparing to attempt to deploy a large number of reserve units to the Donbass”, with the aim of making further gains in the region. Britain further said pro-Russian separatists were experiencing “extraordinary attrition” in Donbass.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russia resumed its bombardment of Kharkiv, the country’s second city, on Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday, Oleh Synegubov, the regional governor, said at least 15 civilians had been killed in the Kharkiv region following Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure.
The city, which was returning to normal life after Ukraine repelled Russian forces, saw some of the worst Russian shelling to date last week, as concerns grow in Kyiv that Russia is staging another attack against the city.
On Wednesday, the Ukrainian military provided more details about Monday’s attack on Snake Island, saying it destroyed a Russian air defense system, radar installation and vehicles on the strategically important Black Sea island. controlled by Russia.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it had prevented the Ukrainian attack, which Moscow said was aimed at landing Ukrainian soldiers on the island.
“The failure of the fire attack forced the enemy to abandon the landing on Snake Island,” the Russian military said in a statement.
Satellite images provided by US firm Maxar Technologies showed an outline of Snake Island on Tuesday, with visible damage to the tower at the southern end of the island and scorched vegetation in several places.
Meanwhile, Ukraine was accused on Wednesday of using two drones to strike a major Russian oil refinery in the Rostov region near the border with Ukraine.
“As a result of terrorist actions from the western border of the Rostov region, two unmanned aerial vehicles hit the Novochakhtinsk technological facilities,” plant representatives said in a statement.
On Wednesday morning, footage on social media showed a drone flying towards the refinery, located just eight kilometers from the border with Ukraine, before a fire broke out.
Pro-Russian separatists also accused ‘Ukrainian saboteurs’ of staging a ‘failed assassination’ against the Moscow-appointed leader of a town outside Kherson, a Russian-occupied Black Sea port city .
The Russian state agency TASS, quoting the local security services, indicated that the head of the city of Chernobaevka, Yuri Turulev, was slightly injured following a car bomb attack.
The extent of partisan warfare in Kherson is difficult to gauge, with little information coming out of the occupied region, but several attacks have recently been reported in Kherson against Russian soldiers as well as Ukrainian officials who have switched sides to collaborate with the Russians.
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Post expires at 6:02am on Sunday July 3rd, 2022