Sergei Gaidai, the regional governor of Luhansk, said on Wednesday that Russian forces now control about 70% of Sivirodonetsk, a strategically important city east of Ukraine.
“Some Ukrainian troops have returned to more convenient, pre-prepared positions,” Gaidai said in a telegram messaging app.
On Tuesday, Russian troops took control of most of Siviarodonetsk, one of the two provinces of regional governor Sergei Gaidai Donbass.
Almost all of Siviarodonetsk’s critical infrastructure has been destroyed and 60% of residential property has been damaged beyond repair, he added. Russia’s shelling made it impossible to deliver relief or evacuate people.
A Russian conquest of Siviarodonetsk and its twin city of Lisichansk on the other side of the Donetsk River will bring full control of Luhansk, Moscow claims on behalf of the separatists as one of the two eastern provinces.
A pro-Moscow separatist leader says Russian proxies have moved slower than expected to “maintain the city’s infrastructure” and take precautions around its chemical plant.
Russia’s state-run TASS news agency quoted Leonid Pasechnik, leader of the pro-Moscow Luhansk People’s Republic, as saying, “We can already say that one-third of Siviarodonetsk is already under our control.”
Gaidai warned residents of Siviarodonetsk not to leave the bomb shelter because of Russian airstrikes on nitric acid tanks.
Police in the Luhansk People’s Republic say Ukrainian forces damaged it. Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists traded charges for similar incidents in April.
Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s aid agency, which has long worked outside of Sieverodonetsk, said he was “horrified” by the destruction.
Egland said 12,000 civilians were trapped in crossfire, without adequate access to water, food, medicine or electricity.
“Of course the constant bombardment is forcing civilians to take refuge in bomb shelters and basements, there are only a few valuable opportunities for those trying to escape,” he said.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)