Russia is deploying a large number of reserve troops to the flashpoint city of Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk, where fierce battles are raging between Russian and Ukrainian forces, a Ukrainian governor says.
On Sunday, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Ukraine’s national television that Moscow was sending these reserves from other battle zones in an attempt to establish full control over Severodonetsk, which is currently on the frontline.
“Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, they will throw in all the reserves they have … because there are so many of them there already, they’re at critical mass,” he said.
Gaidai added that Russian forces had already controlled most but not the entire city, claiming that Russian forces are trying to break through the defense lines but they are failing.
Russia launched what it called a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, in a declared goal of demilitarizing and “de-Nazifying” the ex-Soviet country.
Moscow has for weeks focused most of its firepower on capturing the major city of Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s east while simultaneously trying to cement its control over southern territory, which includes the strategic and already seized city of Kherson, situated north of the Black Sea.
Severodonetsk is a strategic city located 143 kilometers south of the Russian border, which has emerged as the epicenter of Moscow’s quest to capture Ukraine’s entire eastern industrial Donbas region, composed of two breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk that Moscow has vowed to “liberate.”
Pro-Russia forces had held parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions even before the military offensive.
If Russian forces manage to fully seize the city, they will be able to advance further in the Donbas region.
Severodonetsk has experienced heavy shelling hitting residential areas. Pro-Russia forces there blame Ukraine. But Ukraine routinely denies carrying out any attacks on that region.
Russia says Ukrainian shelling has cut off power to a coal mine in the region, trapping nearly 80 miners.