Kyiv/Moscow, Jun 10 (EFE).- Ukraine is relying on a tactic of attrition against Russian troops in Severodonetsk, the last major city under Kyiv control in the eastern Lugansk region, where Ukrainian forces holding out in the industrial zone until the arrival of heavy Western weaponry.
“We hope to gain time in this way until the arrival of sufficient armaments from our partners to be able to move to an effective counterattack,” said presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.
According to Podolyak, Ukraine is looking to eventually reach “parity” in terms of artillery with Russia in order to better fight Moscow’s forces and decrease the number of casualties in its own ranks.
Severodonetsk remains the epicenter of the fighting in the Donbas. The city is key to controlling the entire Lugansk region, as Russian troops intend to use it as a base to continue their offensive on neighboring Donetsk.
According to a British intelligence report, Russia is “back in control of most” of the city, although it has made little progress in its attempts to encircle a wider area from the north and south.
The fighting is now centered in the industrial zone on the outskirts of the city, mainly around the Azot chemical plant, where an undetermined number of Ukrainian servicemen and several hundred civilians, who, according to Moscow, are being used as a “human shield” by Ukrainian “nationalists”, are barricaded.
The mayor of Severodonetsk, Oleksandr Stryuk, warned in turn that it will be “very difficult” to regain the city if the Russians take full control of it.
According to separatists in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, Russian troops have blockaded the territory around the factory, which specialized in the production of ammonia and compound mineral fertilizers before the start of the fighting.
The People’s Republic of Lugansk’s ambassador to Russia, Rodion Miroshnik, said Friday on Telegram that a “small number” of Ukrainian servicemen were at the plant, who have tried to contact pro-Russian militias to discuss their potential departure from the plant.
“They have been told that no conditions will be accepted. They have to hand over their weapons and surrender,” he said.
About 1,000 civilians have also reportedly taken refuge in Azot, according to Apti Alaudynov, an adviser to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Alaudinov said that this circumstance makes it difficult for Russian forces to operate at the site.
As of Friday, he added, Russia controls “100 %” of the residential areas of Severodonetsk, and “15-20 % of the industrial zone” of the city. EFE