Sievierodonetsk mayor says Russian forces seize half the city

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LVIV, Ukraine (AP) – Russian forces in a “frenzied push” have seized half of the eastern Ukrainian town of Sievierodonetsk that is key to Moscow’s efforts to quickly complete the capture of the Donbass industrial region, the mayor told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“The city is basically being ruthlessly destroyed block by block,” Oleksandr Striuk said. He said heavy street fighting continued and artillery shelling threatened the lives of some 13,000 civilians still sheltering in the ruined city that once housed more than 100,000 people.

It is impossible to track civilian casualties amid the round-the-clock shelling, said the mayor, who estimates more than 1,500 residents have died of various causes since the Russian invasion. from Ukraine at the end of February. Evacuation efforts from Sievierodonetsk were halted due to shelling.

“Civilians are dying from direct hits, fragmentation wounds and under the rubble of destroyed buildings, as most residents are hiding in basements and shelters,” Striuk said.

Electricity in the city has been cut and people need water, food and medicine, the mayor said: “There is still food for several days, but the problem is how to distribute it” .

Sievierodonetsk is important to Russian efforts to capture Donbass before more Western weapons arrive to bolster Ukraine’s defense. Moscow-backed separatists already held territory in the region and have been fighting Ukrainian troops for eight years.

Military analysts described the fight for Sievierodonetsk as part of a race against time for the Kremlin. The city. which is 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of the Russian border, is in an area that is the last pocket of Ukrainian government control in the Luhansk region.

In his overnight video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the situation in the Donbass remains “extremely difficult” as Russia has deployed the “maximum combat power” of its military there.

At least three people were killed and six others injured overnight in a Russian missile strike on the city of Sloviansk, west of Sievierodonetsk, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Tuesday morning in a Facebook post. A school was among several damaged buildings.

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In nearby Luhansk, two people were killed and four were injured in shelling, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Telegram on Tuesday. Haidai did not say when or where the attack happened.

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Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine


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