Ukraine War Update: Troops continue to defend heavily-damaged Sievierodonetsk

by Trinity Cardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM News

Shells exploded upon an already decimated city this weekend as Russian troops continued their assault on Sievierodonetsk. In between rounds of bombs, each lasting multiple hours, troops advanced in an effort to break through. However, Ukrainian soldiers have not abandoned the ruins that represent the last major city they still control in the Luhansk province of the nation. Some fear that the city will become the next tragic scene of the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called the Russian push against Sievierodonetsk “a fundamental task for the occupiers.” He described the city in his televised address, stating that “90% of buildings are damaged. More than two-thirds of the city’s housing stock has been completely destroyed.”

In terms of population, the former city of 100,000 now holds less than 13,000 civilians according to Mayor Oleksandr Striuk’s statement on Friday. Russian troops continue to press from the Northeast and the Southeast. With the city’s back to a river to the west, Sievierodonetsk is already in a tactically precarious situation.

After Russian troops occupied a small village south of the city called Svitlodarsk on Tuesday, the Luhansk governor warned that soldiers may need to retreat to avoid being completely surrounded. A complete encirclement is reminiscent of the tactics used when Mauripol was completely cut off and besieged by Russian troops for three months. Already, Striuk says that an estimated 1,500 civilians have already perished in the city due to a lack of medicine and diseases.

Recent reports say that Ukrainian forces have driven Russian troops back into the south for now by reclaiming the village of Toshkivka.

Yesterday, Zelensky visited troops in Kharkiv in his first official appearance outside Kyiv since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. He commended troops and handed out gifts. He told soldiers, according to his office, “You risk your lives for us all and for our country.”

Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak reported on Telegram yesterday that Russia occupies roughly 31% of Kharkiv. However, Ukrainian forces had retaken 5% of the city in recent days.

Rather than breaking Ukraine’s spirit, the people appear determined to keep fighting back despite the high cost of life and infrastructure.

“You know now what I’m most afraid of, now that the fighting is so intense, so tough?” Dmytro, a former English language teacher, told Reuters television. “That we would be told: That’s it, stop it, we have a ceasefire.”

Dmytro added that a settlement “would be a horror” if it happened today.

Ukraine has also initiated counter-attacks along the southern bank of the Inhulets River, which borders the city of Kherson. This counterattack has succeeded in driving back Russian troops in the villages of Andriyivka, Lozove, and Bilohorka. Experts do not expect these footholds to result in substantial territory retaking. However, it might force Moscow to shuffle troops to reinforce the region.