Russian forces have lost ground in Severodonetsk, a key city in eastern Ukraine that has been the scene of fierce fighting as Moscow seeks to take control of Donbass, a regional governor said on Sunday.
“The Russians controlled about 70% of the city, but were pushed back in the last two days,” Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday wrote on Telegram.
“The city is split in two. They are afraid to move freely around the city.”
The Lugansk region has been partly controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014. Severodonetsk is the administrative capital of the Ukrainian part.
Gaiday said Ukrainian forces captured eight Russian prisoners.
He hinted that Russian General Aleksandr Dvornikov “has set himself the goal of taking full control of Severodonetsk by June 10, or controlling the Lysychansk-Bakhmut road” which would open the way to Kramatorsk, the capital of the Donetsk region.
“All forces, all reserves are focused on these two tasks,” Gaiday said.
On Saturday, the Russian military claimed some Ukrainian military units were pulling out of Severodonetsk, but Mayor Oleksandr Striuk said Ukrainian forces were fighting to retake the city.
“Our soldiers managed to redeploy, to build a line of defense,” he said in an interview broadcast on Telegram on Saturday.
“We are currently doing everything necessary to restore full control” of the city.