Russian forces closed in on the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk on Thursday amid fears that near-constant shelling will reduce it to rubble like the fallen port of Mariupol.
The Kremlin lashed out at the city as it consolidated its grip on Luhansk Oblast — the northern of the two provinces that make up the core of the eastern Donbass region.
“Russia has the advantage, but we are doing everything we can,” General Oleksiy Gromov, deputy chief of the Main Operations Department of Ukraine’s General Staff, said on Thursday.
Moscow has poured thousands of troops into its assault on Severodonetsk and its sister city, Lysyhansk. The twin cities on the river Siverskyi Donets have been in Russian sights for months. They are currently the only Ukrainian ski jump in the Luhansk region.
Russian troops on Thursday came close to fully encircling the city and briefly held the last remaining highway into the area, according to Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk.
“[The Russians] was able to gain a foothold for a while. They even set up some kind of checkpoint there,” he said in an interview published on social media. “The checkpoint was broken, they were thrown back. That means the Russian army is not controlling the route now, but they are shelling it.”
Haidai added that Ukrainian forces would withdraw from positions around the cities.
“It is clear that our boys are slowly retreating to more fortified positions – we have to hold this horde back,” he said.
With thousands of residents reportedly trapped and under relentless attack, Severodonetsk has been likened to the southern Donbass city of Mariupol, which was razed by Russian forces.
“The Russians are destroying Severodonetsk like Mariupol,” Haidai said over the weekend.
Haidai expressed concern that the city would also be largely destroyed by the attacks.
“They cannot take the city, so they decided to try to destroy it and make our troops leave the city,” Haidai said.
Russian momentum in Donbass comes a week after Ukraine’s last defenders capitulated at Donetsk Oblast’s Mariupol — a once-functioning industrial port left in utter ruin by weeks of encirclement, siege and bombardment.
With postal wires
https://nypost.com/2022/05/26/russia-pounds-severodonetsk-amid-fears-it-will-become-like-mariupol/ Russia hits Severodonetsk amid fears it will become ‘like Mariupol’