Russian forces have seized 70% of the industrial city of Severodonetsk in a bid to control the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, the regional governor has announced. said Wednesday.
“Russians control 70% of Severodonetsk,” Luhansk Governor Sergiy Gaiday wrote on Telegram. He said some Ukrainian troops had retreated to “more favorable” positions while others continued to fight inside the city.
Evacuations and humanitarian deliveries to and from Severodonetsk have been suspended, he added.
Gaiday said earlier on Tuesday that 90% of the city had been destroyed after weeks of relentless shelling.
A Luhansk police official quoted by Russian news agency RIA Novosti over the weekend said Severodonetsk was “now surrounded” and Ukrainian troops could no longer leave the city.
Severodonetsk, which had a population of about 100,000 before the war, is one of many important urban centers that lie in Russia’s path to capture the entire Lugansk region and eastern Ukraine’s de facto administrative center, Kramatorsk . Together, Lugansk and Donetsk include Ukraine’s largest region of Donbass, which many believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to maintain as a key target after Russia’s failed assault on Kyiv.
Last week, Gayday estimated that Russia control “about 95%” of the Lugansk region.
“We are waiting for Western weapons and preparing for disoccupation,” Gaiday wrote on Wednesday after US President Joe Biden announced the transfer of longer-range high-precision missile systems to Ukraine.
AFP contributed reporting.