Ukrainian forces say they are holding their positions in intense fighting in the eastern city and have retaken ground in the south, targeting gains in the biggest swathe of territory seized by Russia since the invasion started.
But Ukraine says its only hope to turn the tide toward victory is more artillery to offset Russia’s massive firepower, a point Mr Podolyak doubled down on in his interview with the UK’s national broadcaster.
Severodonetsk, and its twin city Lysychansk on the opposite bank of the Siverskyi Donets river, are the last Ukrainian-controlled parts of Luhansk province, which Moscow is determined to seize as one of its principal war objectives.
Russian forces destroyed the school after they invaded Ukraine on 24 February and then used it as an outpost, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said.
In a rare update from Severodonetsk, the commander of Ukraine’s Svoboda National Guard Battalion, Petro Kusyk, said Ukrainians were drawing the Russians into street fighting to neutralise any artillery advantage.
To the west of Severodonetsk, Russia is pushing from the north and south, trying to trap Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region comprising Luhansk and the neighbouring Donetsk province.
Smoke rising amid shelling in the city of Severodonetsk. Russia has concentrated its troops and firepower on the small industrial city in recent weeks. Source: Getty, AFP / Aris Messinis
In the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, one of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine, a court sentenced two Britons and a Moroccan who were captured while fighting for Ukraine to death, Russian news agencies reported.
Asked if any deal had been reached to sell grain from southern Ukraine to Turkey or a Middle Eastern country, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “So far no agreements have been reached, work is continuing.”
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