Heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces has continued in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, as Moscow’s troops pressed on with their advance on Severodonetsk, where local officials accused Russia of using “scorched-earth” tactics.
Severodonetsk and its twin city of Lysychansk form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to capture since mid-April, when it shifted focus to the south and east after abandoning its offensive to take Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, one of the two provinces in Donbas, said on Sunday Russian forces were deploying “scorched-earth” tactics.
“They are wiping Severodonetsk from the face of the Earth,” he alleged.
Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of carrying out senseless bombardments during its renewed offensive in Donbas, which, he said, had turned it into “hell”.
According to Haidai, Russian forces had occupied several towns and cities in Luhansk after indiscriminate, 24-hour shelling and were concentrating forces and weaponry there, bringing in troops from Kharkiv to the northwest, Mariupol to the south, and from inside Russia.
The sole working hospital in Severodonetsk has only three doctors and supplies for 10 days, he said.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army said on its Facebook page at least seven civilians were killed and eight others wounded on Sunday in bombardment of Donetsk, the other province in Donbas.
Separately, Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday its forces attacked Ukrainian command centres, troops and ammunition depots in Donbas, as well as in the Mykolaiv region in the south with air raids and artillery.
Al Jazeera was unable to verify the claims from the Russian and Ukrainian officials.
Early on Monday, powerful explosions were heard in Korosten, about 160km (100 miles) west of Kyiv, the town’s deputy mayor said. It was the third straight day of apparent attacks in the Zhytomyr district, according to Ukrainian news agencies.
Moreover, in the Russian-held city of Enerhodar, 281km (174 miles) northwest of the southeastern city of Mariupol, an explosion on Sunday wounded the Moscow-appointed mayor at his residence, Russian and Ukrainian news agencies reported.
According to Ukraine’s Unian news agency, a bomb planted by “local partisans” wounded 48-year-old Andrei Shevchuk, who lives near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the invasion of Ukraine, which is about to reach the end of its third month, a “special military operation” to disarm the neighbouring country and rid it of far-right anti-Russian nationalists.
Ukraine and its Western allies reject that as a false pretext for an unprovoked attack that has forced millions to flee abroad and killed or wounded thousands of people, if not more.