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The Russian army is “throwing all its reserves into” capturing the city of Severodonetsk in the eastern Luhansk region, according to Serhiy Hayday, the head of the regional military administration.

“They had previously managed to capture most of the city, but now our military has pushed them back,” Hayday told Ukrainian television, saying the Russians were “suffering huge losses.”

Hayday also said Chechen forces that seemed to think the battle was won entered the city.

He said the Russians were trying to demolish bridges “so that we cannot provide reinforcements to our guys who are in Severodonetsk, who are defending the Lugansk region. … They are really afraid that the success of our defenders will be develops, and it can be done if ammunition, weapons and reinforcements are provided in time. That is the first thing they are afraid of.

Earlier Saturday, Hayday said Ukraine now controls about half of Severodonetsk. He was responding to a question about the latest British intelligence assessment, which predicted that Russia would control the entire Lugansk region within two weeks.

The humanitarian situation is difficult in the region, he added.

“Right now we can neither evacuate people nor deliver humanitarian aid, for example to Severodonetsk. The only places where we can deliver humanitarian cargo – food, medicine – are Lysychansk and the community of Hirske,” which are south of Severodonetsk, he said.

“Even in Lysychansk we are bombarded, but we continue to transport humanitarian goods daily by trucks. We can even evacuate people, but discreetly, without publicity, because the Russian army is shooting at evacuation buses,” said Hayday.

Oleksandr Striuk, head of the military administration of Severodonetsk, said on Saturday evening that street fighting continued in the city and that “our army was doing everything to drive the enemy out of the city”.

Striuk said the city’s residential areas are now “split in two”.

“Street battles are fought, which are accompanied by constant artillery shelling. The situation is quite tense, but there is hope and confidence in our armed forces that everything will be fine. The city remains Ukrainian “, did he declare.

He said there were around 13,000 people in the town before it was stormed by Russian troops, but some were “forcibly removed to occupied territory”.

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