Ukrainian forces were holding out in Sievierodonetsk on Tuesday, resisting Russia’s all-out assault to capture a bombed-out wasteland that Moscow has made the principal objective of its invasion in recent days.
Both sides said Russian forces now controlled between a third and half of the city. Russia’s separatist proxies acknowledged that capturing it was taking longer than hoped, despite one of the biggest ground assaults of the war.
Western military analysts say Moscow has drained manpower and firepower from across the rest of the front to concentrate on Sievierodonetsk, hoping a massive offensive on the small industrial city will achieve one of its stated aims, to secure surrounding Luhansk province for separatist proxies.
“We can say already that a third of Sievierodonetsk is already under our control,” Russia’s TASS state news agency quoted Leonid Pasechnik, the leader of the pro-Moscow Luhansk People’s Republic, as saying.
The Ukrainian head of the city administration, Oleksandr Stryuk, said the Russians now controlled half of the city.
“Unfortunately … the city has been split in half. But at the same time the city still defends itself. It is still Ukrainian,” he said, advising those still trapped inside to stay in cellars.
Russia’s defense ministry said on Tuesday that its forces had downed a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region and bombed a radar station and two ammunition depots in eastern Ukraine.