(Update 1: Adds details, alters headline lead)
Kyiv, Jun 6 (EFE).- The Russian military has intensified its offensive on the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, where the situation for Ukrainian troops has “worsened,” the regional military leader Serhiy Hadai said Monday.
The head of the regional military administration of Luhansk said in a TV interview shared on his Facebook page that Ukrainian forces were holding out in an industrial area of the city, a strategic target in the Kremlin’s bid to seize the entire Donbas region, which comprises Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk.
He added that Russian shelling on the Luhansk region has increased and that the situation in some cities was comparable to the ill-fated Mariupol, the southeastern city that fell to Russian invaders after a brutal, weeks-long siege.
In an earlier statement, Haidai said: “The Russians are storming Sievierodonetsk.”
“Street fights are ongoing there. However, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are holding the defense. The head of state, who visited our advanced positions in the Luhansk region at night, was convinced of this.”
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy late Sunday visited front line positions in the oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk, collectively known as the Donbas, Ukrinform reported.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has concentrated much of his military effort on capturing the region, swathes of which have been under the control of pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.
Putin officially recognized the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics on the eve of the invasion, using them as a pretense for his military assault.
Russia has also carried out attacks on Sievierodonetsk’s outlying towns and settlements, Haidai said.
Putin’s aim of seizing the entire Donbas region would allow Russia to create a land bridge stretching from east to southern Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014. EFE