The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ukrainian leaders warn of dire situation in key eastern city of Severodonetsk

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a speech in Kyiv on May 21, 2022. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)
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Ukrainian leaders are warning of an increasingly dire situation in Severodonetsk — one of the last major cities in eastern Luhansk province still in Kyiv’s control — with a high-ranking official saying it is becoming “a new Mariupol.”

Military analysts say Russian forces are attempting to encircle the strategic city in a bid to control all of Luhansk. Russian troops destroyed a bridge into Severodonetsk on Saturday, making it harder to evacuate people and bring supplies in.

The region’s governor, Serhiy Haidai, said Sunday that “if they destroy one more bridge, then the city will be fully cut off, unfortunately.” He said about 10,000 people remain in Severodonetsk, which had a prewar population of more than 100,000 — and most “are almost constantly in bomb shelters.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the only way out of the war will be through diplomacy — in addition to a win for Kyiv on the battlefield. Meanwhile, a delegation of U.S. diplomats was traveling to The Hague on Sunday for talks with allies on “atrocities committed in Ukraine,” the State Department said.

Here’s what else to know

  • Polish President Andrzej Duda delivered the first in-person address by a foreign leader to Kyiv’s parliament since the war began. He stressed Ukraine’s right to determine its own future.
  • Russia is likely to have deployed its only operational company of BMP-T “Terminator” tank support vehicles to Severodonetsk, Britain’s Defense Ministry said.
  • Zelensky said Sunday that as many as 100 soldiers are killed in hard-hit eastern Ukraine each day. His government has released relatively little information on battleground deaths.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.