Having failed to take the capital Kyiv in the early phase of the war, Russia is seeking to consolidate its grip on the Donbas.
Russia-Ukraine war updates: Russian troops are moving into the city of Sivierodonetsk from the outskirts, Luhansk region governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Monday. Sievierodonetsk, the largest city that Kyiv still partly controls in the Luhansk region of the Donbas, has been the focus of Russia`s attacks in eastern Ukraine.
“Unfortunately we have disappointing news, the enemy is moving into the city,” Gaidai told national television.
He said the neighbouring city of Lysychansk was still under Ukrainian control, while the main road into the two cities has been shelled, but not blocked.
Having failed to take the capital Kyiv in the early phase of the war, Russia is seeking to consolidate its grip on the Donbas, large parts of which are already controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.
Unlike in the previous stages of the war, which Moscow calls a “special military operation” to demilitarize Ukraine and rid it of nationalists threatening Russian-speakers there, Russia has concentrated its firepower on a small area.
“They (Russian army) use the same tactics over and over again. They shell for several hours – for three, four, five hours – in a row and then attack. Those who attack die. Then shelling and attack follow again, and so until they break through somewhere,” Gaidai said.
Ukraine’s Donbas ‘unconditional priority’ for Russia
The “liberation” of Ukraine`s Donbas region is an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday.
He reiterated Moscow`s claims that its “special military operation” in Ukraine is to demilitarise its neighbour after waves of NATO`s eastward expansion and cleanse it of what it sees as
“Nazi”-inspired nationalism. Kyiv and Western countries see those claims as baseless pretexts for a land grab.
“The liberation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, recognised by the Russian Federation as independent states, is an unconditional priority,” Lavrov said, according to a text released by Russia`s Foreign Ministry.
The invasion, now in its fourth month, has killed thousands of people in Ukraine and displaced millions.
According to the United Nations, more than 6.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine since February 24.
There are some 14,388 cases of Russian alleged war crimes being probed by Ukraine`s Prosecutor General`s Office and several Russian soldiers have pleaded guilty in cases of shelling Ukraine and killing civilians.