Ukraine faces an increasingly grim fight in the Luhansk region, where Ukrainian officials warn that Russia is staging heavy military equipment.
Taking full control of the city of Severodonetsk in Luhansk would deliver a key victory to Russia — and bring its forces closer to fulfilling Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal of overpowering the Donbas region.
On Monday, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said Moscow’s efforts to take control of the besieged city would probably intensify as Russian leaders set Sunday as the deadline for its military to reach Luhansk’s borders. The coming week could bring some of the most decisive battles in the war, Ukrainian officials warned.
Severodonetsk and its surrounding area came under intense shelling on Monday, described as “just hell” by Luhansk’s regional governor, Serhiy Haidai. He said Russian forces — outfitted with enough weapons to launch “a large-scale offensive” in Severodonetsk — managed to seize Metelkine, a town in its outskirts. Neighboring Lysychansk, Haidai said early Tuesday, saw widespread destruction after heavy bombardment.
According to the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War’s latest assessment, Russia is expected to encircle Severodonetsk’s industrial section, including a chemical plant where Haidai said hundreds of civilians are sheltering.