Russian forces are strengthening their positions in a fierce fight to seize the last stronghold of the resistance in Luhansk province in eastern Ukraine, the region’s governor said on Sunday.
Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend the city of Lysychansk and prevent it from falling to Russia, as its neighbor Sievierodonetsk did a week ago.
A presidential adviser predicted that his fate could be determined within days.
“The occupiers threw all their forces at Lysychansk. They attacked the city with tactics of incomprehensible cruelty,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on the Telegram messaging app.
“They are taking heavy losses, but are pushing forward stubbornly. They set foot in the city. A river separates Lysychansk from Sievierodonetsk.
Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to the Ukrainian president, said in an online interview on Saturday evening that Russian forces had managed to cross the river from the north for the first time, creating a “threatening” situation.
Arestovitch said they had not reached the center of the city but the course of the fighting indicated that the Battle of Lysychansk would be decided by Monday.
In May, Ukrainian and British officials reported that Russia had lost almost an entire battalion in an attempt to cross the Siverskyi Donets River and establish a bridgehead.