Home General News Ukrainian troops ‘hold out’ in key eastern city of Sievierodonetsk

Ukrainian troops ‘hold out’ in key eastern city of Sievierodonetsk

by Anthony L. Gonzalez

Ukraine says its forces are still holding out in Sievierodonetsk and trying to evacuate civilians after Russia destroyed the last bridge to the ruined eastern city at a possible turning point in one of the war’s bloodiest battles.

Russia said Tuesday it would give Ukrainian fighters holed up in a chemical plant in the city on Wednesday morning the chance to surrender. Soldiers must “stop their senseless resistance and lay down their weapons” from 8 a.m. The Interfax news agency, Moscow time, quoted Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, as saying.

Civilians would be let out through a “humanitarian corridor,” he said.

The city’s Ukrainian mayor, Oleksandr Stryuk, said: “The situation is very difficult, but there is communication with the city,” despite the destroyed last bridge over the Siverskyi Donets River. “Russian troops try to storm the city, but the army holds out.”

Ukrainian troops 'hold out' in key eastern city of Sievierodonetsk

Ukraine says more than 500 civilians are trapped in Azot, a chemical plant whose forces have resisted Russian bombing and attacks for weeks.

Evacuations were still being carried out “every minute when there is silence, and there is an opportunity for transport,” Stryuk said. “But these are discrete evacuations, done one at a time, and every opportunity is taken.”

#Ukraine Azot factory in Severodonetsk is on fire after Russian artillery shelling. Ukraine says 500 civilians, including 40 children, are hiding there. pic.twitter.com/LUjEraXY7H

— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) June 12, 2022

Both sides claim massive casualties in the fighting for the city, Russia’s main target in the battle for the east of the country, after it failed to take the capital Kyiv in March.

Ukraine still owns Lysychansk, Sievierodonetsk’s sister city on higher ground across the street. But now that all bridges have been cut, the troops recognize the threat of being surrounded in Sievierodonetsk. Russian separatist accomplices said any Ukrainian troops left behind must surrender or die.

The battle for Sievierodonetsk – a city of just 100,000 inhabitants before the war – is the biggest in Ukraine, as the conflict has turned into a punishing war of attrition.

Kyiv has said it loses as many as 100 to 200 soldiers daily, with hundreds injured. In a late-night speech, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described the battle for the eastern Donbas region — partially occupied by Moscow proxies since 2014 — as one of the most brutal in European history.

Russia doesn’t give firm figures on its own losses. Still, Western countries say they have been huge. Moscow has devoted most of its firepower to President Vladimir Putin’s goal of forcing Kyiv’s territory to concede eastern provinces.

Momentum in Sievierodonetsk has shifted several times in recent weeks — with Russia concentrating its overwhelming artillery firepower on urban districts to wipe out resistance, then sending foot soldiers vulnerable to counter-attacks.

Larger battles could lie ahead for the wider Ukraine-held Donbas region, almost all across the river that Russian forces had difficulty crossing. Ukraine says Russia is moving en masse to attack Sloviansk from the north and along a front near Bakhmut in the south.

“Let every Russian official who has taken precious land in Crimea remember: this is not the country where they will have peace.”

“Of course we will also liberate our Crimea” #StandWithUkraine️ pic.twitter.com/kvlM6qCxwE

— Alex Raufoglu (@ralakbar) June 13, 2022

It has urged the West to send more and better artillery.

“What we don’t have enough of are the weapons that really hit the range we need to reduce the advantage of the Russian Federation’s equipment,” Zelenskiy told Danish journalists at an online press conference on Tuesday.

Ukraine needs 1,000 howitzers, 500 tanks, and 1,000 drones, among other heavy weapons, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Monday. Western countries have promised NATO-standard weapons, including advanced US missiles. But deploying it takes time.

Beyond the Donbas, Ukrainian officials hope that Russia’s focus on conquering the east will divert its forces from other areas and pave the way for counter-attacks to retake another territory.

Ukraine recaptured the area around its second-largest city of Kharkiv in Ma. Itd has recently reported small but steady gains in the south, most of which Russia retains of the territory it captured after its February invasion.

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