The Russian army made ground gains on Saturday near the fiercely besieged Severodonetsk, even though it was still unable to take the former metropolis. “Due to the shelling and storming, the enemy has had partial success in the village of Metjolkine and has tried to settle there,” the Ukrainian army staff said in an update on Saturday evening. Metjolkine is located southeast of Severodonetsk.
The battle for Severodonetsk continues unabated, Ukrainian sources say. Russian troops have been shelling the administrative center of the Luhansk region, in eastern Ukraine, with heavy artillery for weeks. It therefore plays a very important role in the region that Russia would like to get its hands on.
It even looks like Russia is gearing up in the city. This is apparent from social media reports of shelling and explosions, but also from statements made by Governor Sergij Haidai on national television. He said that the Russians are gaining ground and that a lot of Russian soldiers are on their way to the city to have extra thrust. “Today, tomorrow or the day after, they are going to use whatever reserves of manpower they have,” Haidai said. “There are already so many of them, but that’s just the minimum they need for this.”
According to Haidai, the Russians still control most of the city, but are unable to take it completely. The question is how long the Ukrainian army can hold out against the increasing numbers of Russian soldiers. Saturday evening another very large explosion was observed, resulting in a large orange cloud that could be seen very far. It suggests that the Russians are trying to hit the chemical plant in the city, but there is no concrete evidence of that.
Fortunately, there was also good news on Saturday: not everything the Russians try works out. An attempt to storm Ukrainian positions in the city’s industrial area would have failed. Also in Syrotyne, a village west of Metjolkine, a Russian offensive would have come to naught. However, there are no independent sources to confirm that information or Haidai’s claims.
Five civilians killed
The pro-Russian separatist authorities in the Donetsk region, meanwhile, said that Ukrainian bombings in Donetsk killed five civilians and injured 12 others. But there are no independent sources to confirm the information for this either. Russian media, subject to Kremlin censorship rules, say a cinema and cafe in the center of the city were hit.