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All bridges in the city of Syevyerodonetsk in eastern Ukraine have been destroyed and the conditions for people remaining in the city are “extremely difficult”, the military governor of the Luhansk region told RFE/ RL.
“All the bridges have been destroyed, so it’s impossible to bring anything into the city today, unfortunately,” said Serhiy Hayday, adding that evacuations were not possible.
Russian forces have destroyed all gas, water and electricity infrastructure, he said. saidnoting that there were also “huge problems” with medical care.
According to Hayday, the Russian military currently controls 70-80% of Syevyerodonetsk.
He added on Facebook that Syevyerodonetsk was not blocked and there was communication with the city.
The Ukrainian military said its forces had been pushed back from the center of Syevyerodonetsk, the Donbass city that has seen fierce battles as Ukrainian and Russian forces battled for control.
Eduard Basurin, a senior separatist, said on June 13 that Syevyerodonetsk had been “de facto” blocked after Russian forces blew up the “last” bridge connecting it to Lysychansk.
The Ukrainian General Staff said earlier that Russian troops had gained a foothold in the village of Bohorodychne, a village about 50 kilometers west of Syevyerodonetsk.
The capture of Bohorodychne puts the Russian forces in a good position to attack Sloviansk, a larger and more important city.
According to Basurin, forces supported by Moscow launched an offensive on Sloviansk.
Hayday earlier commented on the situation at the Azot nitrogen chemical plant in Syevyerodonetsk, where hundreds of civilians are believed to have taken refuge, saying it was “heavily shelled”.
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Moscow-backed separatist fighters said over the weekend they had surrounded the plant and claimed Ukrainian defenders were trapped there.
The claims could not be independently confirmed.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly June 13 video address that the Battle of Syevyerodonetsk was taking “terrifying” havoc.
“The human cost of this battle is very high for us. It’s just terrifying,” Zelenskiy said. said.
He told the Ukrainians on June 12 that Russia’s “key tactical objective” had not changed.
“They are pressing in Syevyerodonetsk, heavy fighting is going on there – literally for every meter,” Zelenskiy said, adding that the Russian army was trying to dump supplies into Donbass.
Zelenskiy said Russia was deploying under-trained troops and using its young men as “cannon fodder” in the “very fierce” battle.
“Every meter of Ukrainian land there is covered in blood, but not only ours, but also that of the occupier.”
The British Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence newsletter on June 13 that in the coming months, river crossing operations “are likely to be among the most important determining factors in the course of the war”.
British intelligence said Russia had so far struggled to demonstrate the “complex coordination needed to carry out large-scale river crossings under fire”.
Despite the increasingly difficult situation, Zelenskiy remained defiant, saying Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from rapidly invading eastern Ukraine.
“Do you remember how in Russia, at the beginning of May, they hoped to take over all of Donbass? Zelensky said. “It’s already the 108th day of the war, already June. Donbass is holding up.”
Syevyerodonetsk has been the focal point of recent fighting that Kyiv says could determine the outcome of the war, which began on February 24 with Russia’s large-scale and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
The city itself was nearly reduced to rubble by shelling by Russian forces, the situation resembling conditions seen in the southern port of Mariupol, which fell to Russian forces after a long and bloody battle last month.
In the western region of Ternopil, at least 22 people were injured when four Russian cruise missiles hit a military installation and residential buildings, the regional governor said on June 12.
Mykhaylo Podolyak, one of Zelenskiy’s main advisers, made a advocacy for thousands of weapons and heavy equipment to achieve parity with Russia at the front and end the war.
“To be frank, to end the war, we need parity in heavy weapons,” he said on Twitter. He listed 1,000 howitzers, 300 multiple rocket launchers, 500 tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles and 1,000 drones.
“The meeting of the contact group of defense ministers is taking place in #Brussels on June 15. We are waiting for a decision,” he said.
In his nightly video address to Ukrainians, Zelenskiy renewed his call for Western countries to speed up arms deliveries.
Ukrainian troops “are doing everything to stop the offensive, as much as they can, as long as there are enough heavy weapons, modern artillery – everything we asked and continue to ask our partners” , did he declare.
Zelenskiy claimed that Russia wanted to destroy all cities in Donbass, the region in eastern Ukraine that includes Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
“Every city is not an exaggeration,” he said. “All these ruins of once happy cities, the black traces of fires, the craters of explosions – that’s all Russia can give to its neighbors, to Europe, to the world.”