New Delhi: Russian forces have destroyed the last of the three bridges that link the east Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk with its twin city Lysychansk, thereby cutting off evacuation routes for fleeing locals.
The Ukraine military has said Russia was trying to gain a foothold in the centre of the city which has seen heavy fighting in the last weeks, Reuters reported.
The fall of Severodonetsk would give Russia control over the entire Luhansk region, parts of which are already ruled by Russia-backed separatists.
Governor of the Luhansk region Serhiy Haidai said the “situation in Severodonesk was extremely aggravated” and that Russians were destroying high-rise buildings”.
CNN quoted Haidai as saying that getting in weapons and supplies were now difficult but not impossible.
He said: “Lysychansk is already being shelled very powerfully, with a heavy caliber [weapons], they are destroying everything: both humanitarian headquarters and hospitals. But from Lysychansk there is still an opportunity to evacuate people and pick up humanitarian goods every day.”
The second of the three bridges was destroyed over the weekend.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that the battle for this region “will surely go down in military history as one of the most brutal battles in Europe and for Europe”.
“The price of this battle for us is very high. It’s just scary. And we draw the attention of our partners on a daily basis to the fact that only a sufficient number of modern artillery for Ukraine will ensure our advantage and finally the end of Russian torture of the Ukrainian Donbas,” he added.
Starting from the south towards the east, Russia is now in control of Kherson, Melitopol and Mariupol. In the east, Luhansk is under Russia too with separatists backing its forces. With Severodonetsk down, Russia will advance towards Lysychansk.