Russian troops are working on “erasing Severodonetsk from the face of the earth,” a regional official said this weekend, telling of how the city is becoming the eastern focus of the Kremlin’s months-long invasion.
“Every day they are trying to break the line of defense,” Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said in a Ukrainian-media interview that he posted to his Telegram channel Sunday. “’Round-the-clock there is shelling, and unfortunately the Russian army chose the scorched earth tactic against the city of Severodonetsk: They are simply systematically destroying the city. Everywhere is being shelled constantly.”
After claiming the southeastern port city of Mariupol on Friday, the Kremlin has focused troops on Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region, which the Luhansk governor described as an “outpost” that was holding off Russian forces and buying time for other areas.
“This allows, on one hand, for our troops in the Kharkiv region to clear out, deoccupy our territories with greater ease; and on the other hand, the Donetsk region gets a little bit more time to build out the fortifications a bit,” Haidai said. “But we cannot say that it’s peace and quiet in the Donetsk region: It is also suffering constant shelling, rocket fire, airstrikes, constant attempts at breaking the defense near Liman.”
Moscow’s tanks have been firing on residential buildings while moving down streets of the eastern Ukrainian city, Haidai said, “simply erasing Severodonetsk from the face of the earth.”
The Washington Post could not verify Haidai’s assertions Sunday evening.
A journalist from Channel 24 asked Haidai whether Russian troops would “calm down if their attack on Severodonetsk succeeds.”
“No, of course not,” Haidai said. “The Russian army only calms down where it gets ‘calmed down,’ meaning they will stop where they get stopped.”