Russian troops control most of the city of Severodonetsk, where they resort to scorched earth tactics with artillery, mortars and multiple missile launchers to crush Ukrainian resistance, while simultaneously fighting the battle for Sloviansk, Russia’s next target. “The occupiers carried out assault operations on the city today, they were unsuccessful. Hostilities continue,” stressed the General Staff of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenski said that Severodonetsk remains the epicenter of the war in Donbas, in the east of the country, and the troops “defend their positions.” “This is a very fierce, very hard battle. Perhaps one of the most difficult in this war,” stressed the president, while maintaining that, “in many ways, it is there that the fate of our Donbas is now decided.”

The situation in Severodonetsk, along with neighboring Lisichansk, the last major stronghold under Ukrainian control in the Lugansk region, is fluid and unclear. If the day before the governor of the province, Serhiy Gaidai, affirmed that the kyiv troops “only control the suburbs of the city”, he later indicated that “the industrial zone is also ours” and that the “street battles” continue in this center regional.

What the local authorities have admitted is that Russian troops control most of the city, where, according to the mayor, Oleksandr Stryuk, a third of the neighborhoods have been razed to the ground and where there are still some 10,000 inhabitants in a humanitarian situation “almost critical” and with no possibility of being evacuated.

“The silence in Severodonetsk only lasts as long as it takes to reload the weapons,” said Gaidai, who denounced that the Russians “resort to primitive tactics: heavy artillery fire and then try to break through”, which is known as scorched earth practice. . Ukraine’s General Staff confirmed that Russia is firing at troops “with mortars, artillery and missiles through multiple launchers.”

According to the governor, the enemy is strongly attacking the industrial zone, where last night it attacked the Azot chemical plant, where some 800 people are taking refuge, according to what he said last week. At least two wings at different ends of the factory were damaged, one of them dedicated to ammonia production. Gaidai explained today that no chemicals were released into the environment, as all fertilizers and chemical solutions were removed from Azot territory on the second day of the war, according to the owner. The bomb shelter “survived” and there are no casualties.

“If we quickly get Western long-range weapons, an artillery duel will start and Russia will lose to the West and our defenders will be able to clear Severodonetsk in two or three days” of the presence of Russian troops, he stressed. Ukraine is waiting for UK M270 launchers, which can fire precision-guided missiles up to 80 km, and US HIMARS, with a similar range, to arrive in Donbas.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said today that the Polish AHS Krab, a 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzer with a range of about 40 kilometers, as well as weapons received from other partners, are ready to be used on the front lines.

West of Severodonetsk, neighboring Lisichansk is still “under full control” of Ukraine, although Russia is “chaotically shelling the city”, which is in a better strategic position at a higher altitude, according to Gaidai. The governor assured that there is no threat that the Russian troops will surround the Ukrainian ones in the region, among other things because they still do not control the road between Lisichansk and Bakhmut, which they constantly bomb, however.

From Severodonetsk and Lisichansk, Russian troops intend to cross into the Donetsk region, where they continue their war activities in parallel around the recently occupied Sviatohirsk and west of Liman.

According to the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russia’s objective would be to connect these operations with those it is carrying out southeast of Izium and advance towards Sloviansk. The pro-Russian forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said today that they are already immersed in the battle for Sloviansk, which is, along with Kramatorsk, the main objective of the Russian Army in Donbas.

“The battle for Sloviansk is taking place,” the pro-Russian military command said on its Telegram channel. Last Sunday, the separatists stated that they were about 16 kilometers from Sloviansk, a key city to take the Ukrainian military stronghold of Kramatorsk, in the vicinity of which the Russians launched a missile attack today.

At the same time, in the south, the Russian Armed Forces are intensifying their operations along the borders of the Kherson regions -occupied mostly by Russian troops- and Mykolaiv. “Russian forces are trying, according to the General Staff, to curb Ukrainian efforts to regroup and strengthen units in the Kherson region and prevent further Ukrainian counterattacks,” the ISW noted.

The Ukrainian military command said today that “as a result of successful Ukrainian counter-attacks in the direction of Kherson, the occupiers lost part of the temporarily occupied territories”, without revealing further details. In addition, the Russian Army concentrates its artillery fire and ground attacks in the northeast of the Zaporizhia region, controlled by around 80% of Russian forces, near the border with the province of Donetsk.

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