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Russians control 'around 70%' of key Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, governor says

According to Sky News, Russian forces now control around 70% of Severodonetsk. Heavy fighting continues in eastern Ukrainian cities.

Serhiy Hayday, speaking from a secret location in the Luhansk Obblast, admitted that victory in the city would boost Russia’s morale, but downplayed the larger military significance.

To save lives, he said that Ukrainian troops could make a tactical retreat and take up defensive positions in the outside to stop further Russian advances.

This comes just as the EU has decided to ban 75% of Russian oil imports to further pressure Vladimir Putin’s regime.

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Ukraine war – fierce struggle for key city, as Russia seeks its greatest victory of invading so far

Sky News’ Mr Hayday stated that he believed, although I am not a military person; it was unnecessary to lose a lot soldiers in order to capture a city without strategic military purpose.

“In a military sense, the city doesn’t matter. Lysychansk is closer and has higher ground. The military will be in better positions.”

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He said, “We have been restrainting the Russian army for over three months, it must now be understood, and they sent all of their troops to take the Luhansk area.

“The more resistance we have, the more foreign weapons we acquire, the more we rearm our troops, and then we can at most to stop the Russian army, or counterattack later.”

Due to fighting that is now street-to-street, evacuation efforts in Severodonetsk were suspended Tuesday.

Other important developments:

* Russia’s defense ministry claims its forces downed a Su-25 fighter jet from Ukraine in the Mykolaiv region.

* The first ship to leave Mariupol’s port since the Kremlin took the region, Interfax news agency reports

According to the state news agency BelTA, Belarus will conduct military mobilization exercises near the Ukrainian border in June and July.

Sky’s Alex Crawford reported from the city. Tensions were high among those who chose not to leave. Most of the city’s 120,000 residents fled the Russian bombardment.

Russian officials have refocused their forces on Donetsk, Luhansk and other regions. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described it yesterday as an “unconditional priorit”

Russian-backed separatists hold a portion of the Luhansk-Donetsk region, which together make up Donbas. President Vladimir Putin wants it all in pro-Russian hands.

Moscow would have control over Luhansk if Severodonetsk was captured – his greatest victory in the invasion.

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“This is turning into another Mariupol”


Luhansk is a place where people live in ‘hell’

Monday saw Russian forces at the eastern border of Severodonetsk, where they had taken a power plant and a hotel. They have been slowly moving in the direction of the city’s centre over the past night.

Reports suggest that small Ukrainian units, which had been obstructing the Russian advance, have had to retreat. They are reported to be moving west of Siverskyi Donets, towards Lysychansk.

Governor Hayday stated that life in Luhansk is “hell”. There is no electricity, gas, or water and constant bombardment is keeping humanitarian aid out. He also said he has seen numerous examples of war crimes.

“Our children are dying. Russians are bombing schools that have people hiding. Russians have destroyed all water and electricity substations. The people don’t have water. They destroyed all our hospitals and main gas pipes. Many civilians were killed.

“People have to bury their neighbors somewhere in their yards because of the intense firing. Sometimes, shelling can even occur during burials.

“One pro-Ukrainian volunteer was killed in his wheelchair at his home. Our women are being raped, tortured. Here, the Russian army is committed many war crimes.”


Russian “gains are being held”

Moscow’s primary objective is likely to be the encirclement of Severodonetsk, and the closing of the area around Ukrainian forces within Luhansk Oblast. This was stated by the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

The MoD stated that progress has been slow, but gains have been made.

“Routes to the pocket are likely to remain under Ukrainian control. Russia has had greater success in local operations than before, thanks to its ability to mobilize forces and light fires in a small area. Russia is forced to take risks in other occupied territories.

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According to Professor Michael Clarke, security analyst, Severodonetsk has become “another Mariupol” because of the sheer scale of fighting and destruction.

The Russian push in that area has led to a weakening of Russian forces elsewhere, in Kharkiv (further north), the country’s second-largest city, as well as in Kherson in southwest direction towards Mykolaiv which is the gateway to Odesa, a strategic Black Sea port.

Kherson, a port city in Ukraine, was the first to fall under Russian rule.

Prof Clarke stated that “they are clearly putting Russia under pressure in Kherson which, from the Ukrainian perspective, will give them something else to be worried about while they push on in Severodonetsk because if they lose ground in Kherson they would need to divert forces away in order to do something about it.”

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