Fierce fighting as Russia moves on Luhansk holdout

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Fierce fighting as Russia moves on Luhansk holdout

Russian forces have entered the outskirts of Severodonetsk, the last major city in the Luhansk oblast under Ukrainian control.

Russian troops have made it into the northeastern and southeastern portions of the ruined city, Luhansk’s regional governor Serhiy Haidai said Monday.

The Luhansk oblast is the northernmost of the two provinces that make up the Donbas region, the industrial portion of Eastern Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin declared to be his objective after a failed attempt to take the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in March.

With the overwhelming majority of the Luhansk oblast now under Russian control, Kremlin forces have focused withering firepower on Severodonetsk in recent days.

“[They] use the same tactics over and over again,” Haidai said of the Russians. “They shell for several hours – for three, four, five hours – in a row and then attack.”

“Those who attack die. Then shelling and attack follow again, and so on until they break through somewhere,” he added.

In an interview, Mayor Oleksandr Striuk said Russian and Ukrainian forces were engaged in street-by-street gun battles.

Smoke rises during shelling in the city of Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine on May 21, 2022.
Smoke rises during shelling in the city of Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine on May 21, 2022.
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images
Severodonetsk
Severodonetsk had a peacetime population of roughly 100,000 — a number authorities say has now dwindled to fewer than 20,000.
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

“The number of victims is rising every hour, but we are unable to count the dead and the wounded amid the street fighting,” he said.

In a video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Severodonetsk’s capture “a fundamental task for the occupiers,” and vowed to defend it.

Severodonetsk had a peacetime population of roughly 100,000 — a number authorities say has now dwindled to fewer than 20,000.

Smoke and dirt rise from the city of Severodonetsk
Ukrainian authorities estimate that some 90% of the city’s structures have been damaged by Russian artillery fire.
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

Haidai said there was a “terrible smell of death” on the outskirts of the city, made worse by rising temperatures.

Ukrainian authorities estimate that some 90% of the city’s structures have been damaged by Russian artillery fire.

Meanwhile, in southern Ukraine, Russia lobbed artillery at Mykolaiv, an important Ukrainian military port city just northwest of Russian-controlled Kherson, while Ukrainian counterattacks harassed Russian positions in three nearby villages.

With Post wires

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