All bridges to the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk are now impassable, making it impossible for civilians to evacuate and humanitarian aid to enter.
Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk region, which includes Severodonetsk, said the Russians destroyed two of the three bridges connecting the city to Lysychansk, and the third is old and dangerous.
Mr Haidai said: “It is now completely impossible, unfortunately, to drive in the city, to deliver anything to the city.
“Evacuation is impossible.
He estimated that around 70% of Severodonetsk is in Russian hands, adding that the situation for Ukrainian troops is “difficult but under control”.
Mr Haidai told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service: “They have the capacity to send the injured to hospitals, so there is always access.
“It is difficult to deliver weapons or supplies – difficult, but not impossible.”
He also told The Associated Press that Ukrainian forces are fighting the Russians “block by block, street by street, house by house, with varying degrees of success.”
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Over 10,000 civilians remain in Severodonetsk – out of a pre-war population of over 100,000.
Lysychansk is the other city of Luhansk which is not yet under Russian control, but it is regularly bombarded by Russian forces.
Eduard Basurin, a leader of the Russian-backed separatists in nearby Donetsk, said Monday that Severodonetsk had been blocked and Ukrainian fighters had no choice but to surrender.
Mr. Haidai, however, rejected this “lie”, adding: “There is no threat that our troops will be surrounded in the Luhansk region”.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 but did not advance as quickly as expected, abandoning efforts to take the capital Kyiv and focusing on the Donbass region, where Moscow-backed separatists have held territory since 2014.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia’s main goal was to protect the people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, which make up the Donbass region.
He told Russian news agency RIA: “In general, the protection of republics is the main goal of the special military operation.”
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Ukraine continues to plead with Western powers for more weapons to help defend its remaining territory in the Donbass.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said 1,000 howitzers, 500 tanks and 1,000 drones were among the items needed to put his country on a par with Russia in terms of weapons.
Meanwhile, Russia said it destroyed another shipment of US and European arms and equipment in a missile strike near a train station in Udachne, northwest of Donetsk.
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Post expires at 8:05am on Friday June 24th, 2022