Ukraine: 10,000 civilians left in Sievierodonetsk with city on the brink

Ukraine: 10,000 civilians left in Sievierodonetsk with city on the brink
Sergiy Gaidai/ Luhansk OVA/ Telegram

Some 10,000 civilians are still in the city of Sievierodonetsk, a key city in the Donbas region that the Russians have been trying to seize for weeks, Serguiï Gaïdaï, the Governor of the Lugansk region, said on Thursday.

Ukraine ignored a Russian ultimatum on Wednesday 15 June to surrender the city, with Moscow now controlling 80% of the embattled eastern city that has become a focal point of Russia’s military efforts in the east of the country.

The city has become the centre of one of the bloodiest chapters in Russia's offensive as the Kremlin angles to take full control of the Donbas.

"For nearly four months, they (Russian forces) have dreamed of controlling Sievierodonetsk where, out of 100,000 inhabitants around 10,000 are still there, not counting the victims," said Gaïdaï on Telegram messaging.

Gaïdaï states that "the Russian army is losing hundreds of fighters but finds reserves and continues to destroy Sievierodonetsk". But he insisted that "our soldiers hold the defence."

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Sievierodonetsk has been the scene of bombardments and street fighting for several weeks. The three bridges that linked the city to the neighbouring town of Lysytchansk have now been destroyed.

Ukraine has managed to withdraw a large number of its combat troops who were originally holding the town, with the situation deteriorating for soldiers and civilians that remain east of the river. Russia will need to cross the river in order to gain an operational advantage.

Breakaway "Russian" states

Russia is pushing to control all of the Donbas through the expansion of the proxy republics in Donetsk and Luhansk, established in 2014. Russia's 'security cooperation agreements' with these breakaway and illegitimate states have been used by the Kremlin as the premise for the invasion.

On Thursday, the headquarters of the territorial defence of the unrecognised Donetsk People’s Republic published a briefing claiming the self-proclaimed republic, only recognised by Russia as a legitimate territory, now controls 238 settlements in occupied Donetsk.

Ukraine’s Kherson has been under occupation since the beginning of the war; children born in the Kherson region after 24 February will now automatically receive Russian citizenship. This will also apply to orphans.

Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-proclaimed republic in Donetsk, said the proxy state would turn to Russia for military help after several strikes on Donetsk city.

Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, added that the “protection” of the two breakaway republics, Donetsk and Luhansk which form the Donbas, was the main goal of Russia’s “special military operation”.

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