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Russia pounds Severodonetsk as fears grow it will become ‘like Mariupol’

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Russian forces closed in on the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk on Thursday, as fears mount that near-constant shelling will reduce it to rubble like the fallen port of Mariupol.

The Kremlin pounded the city as it tightened its grip on the Luhansk oblast — the northern of the two provinces that make up the core of the eastern Donbas region.

“Russia has the advantage, but we are doing everything we can,” General Oleksiy Gromov, deputy chief of the main operations department of Ukraine’s general staff said Thursday.

Moscow has poured thousands of troops into its assault on Severodonetsk and its sister city of Lysychansk. The twin cities, straddling the Siverskyi Donets river, have been in Russian sights for months. They currently comprise the lone Ukrainian redoubt in the Luhansk oblast.

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Russian troops grew close to completely encircling the city Thursday, briefly holding the last remaining highway into the area, according to Serhiy Haidai, Luhansk’s governor.

There are fears abound that Russia will turn the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk into another Mariupol.
AFP via Getty Images

“[The Russians] managed to gain a foothold for some time. They even set up some kind of checkpoint there,” he said in an interview posted to social media. “The checkpoint was broken, they were thrown back. That is to say, the Russian army does not control the route now, but they are shelling it.”

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Haidai added that Ukrainian forces were withdrawing from positions around the cities.

“It is clear that our boys are slowly retreating to more fortified positions – we need to hold back this horde,” he said.

Severodonetsk
Russia is heavily attacking Severodonetsk.
Rick Mave/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

With thousands of residents reportedly trapped and under relentless attacks, Severodonetsk has been compared to the southern Donbas city of Mariupol, which was leveled to the ground by Russian forces.

“The Russians are destroying Severodonetsk, like Mariupol,” Haidai said over the weekend.

 Haidai expressed fear that the city would also be essentially demolished by the attacks.

Severodonetsk
Thousands of residents are trapped in Severodonetsk.
Rick Mave/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
After being hit by Russian shelling, an injured woman cries in pain while receiving the first aid at the Humanitarian Aid Center in Severodonetsk.
After being hit by Russian shelling, an injured woman cries in pain while receiving the first aid at the Humanitarian Aid Center in Severodonetsk.
Rick Mave/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“They can’t take the city so they have decided to try to destroy it, and to make our troops leave the city,” Haidai said. 

The Russian momentum in the Donbas comes a week after the surrender of Ukraine’s final defenders in Mariupol in the Donetsk oblast — a once-teaming industrial port left in utter ruin by weeks of encirclement, siege and bombardment.

With Post wires

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