KYIV (CU)_Ukrainian forces in the embattled city of Sievierodonetsk are currently holding out against the Russians after ground changed hands several times over the recent weeks. However, the Eastern European nation endured what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described as “painful” losses, as Russian forces cut off another possible evacuation route for civilians on Sunday (12 June).
The last bridge to Sievierodonetsk, the Kremlin’s main target in its battle to gain control over eastern Ukraine, was blown up by Russian troops over the weekend. It was reported that Ukrainian forces were still trying to evacuate civilians from the city on Tuesday, despite the falling of the bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river. “[…] we have to hold strong … The more losses the enemy suffers, (the) less strength it will have to pursue its aggression,” President Zelenskyy said in an address on Tuesday night. According to Oleksandr Stryuk, the mayor of Sievierodonetsk, evacuations are being carried out ‘every minute when there is a lull and there is a possibility of transportation”. “Every possible chance is taken,” he said.
Meanwhile, more than 500 civilians are reportedly trapped inside Azot, the largest chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk, where Russian shelling caused a fire on Sunday. Ukrainian forces in the area resisted weeks of Russian attacks which have reduced much of the city to ruins. Shelling on factory was so powerful that “people can no longer stand it in the shelters”, according to Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai. “Their psychological state is on the edge,” he added.
Moscow has given Ukrainian fighters taking shelter at the chemical plant until Wednesday morning to surrender. They should “stop their senseless resistance and lay down their arms” by 8am Moscow time (0500 GMT), so that civilians could be let out through a “humanitarian corridor”, according to the head of Russia’s National Defence Management Centre, Mikhail Mizintsev.