Ukraine says it controls “half” of Severodonetsk

Ukraine said on Sunday its forces controlled half of Severodonetsk, as Kyiv’s army rebuffs Russia’s bid to take the eastern city, key in the battle for the Donbass region.

But Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said they expected a major counterattack by Russian forces in the coming days.

“Our armed forces have cleared half” of the industrial center of Russian troops, Gaiday said in an interview posted on his official social media.

“Half the city is actually controlled by our forces.”

Severodonetsk is the largest city still in Ukrainian hands in the Luhansk region, which is part of Donbass. Russian forces have gradually advanced there in recent weeks after retreating or pushing back from other areas, notably around the capital Kyiv.

After being pushed back by a Russian offensive on the city, Ukrainian troops gradually recovered ground there.

Gaiday said Russian forces had been tasked with taking control of the city by Friday, as well as a key transport artery linking two other nearby towns, Lysychansk and Bakhmut.

“We expect that in the near future all the reserves that they have access to now – all the reserves, all the personnel that they have – they will rely on them to do both of those things,” Gaiday said.

“In the next five days, there will be a sharp increase in the number of heavy artillery bombardments”, on the Russian side.

James V. Hayes