The battles that are being fought in the eastern region of Ukraine could decide the nation’s fate, a defence ministry spokesman said, as Russian forces were conducting an all-out assault to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities straddling the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian Defence Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said Russian forces had not given up attempts to cross the river.
He said, “Now, we observe the most active phase of Russia’s full-scale aggression against our nation. The situation on the eastern side is extremely difficult, as the fate of this nation is perhaps being decided there right now.”
The easternmost region of the Ukrainian-held Donbas pocket, the city of Severodonetsk on the east bank of the river and its twin Lysychansk on the west bank, have become the pivotal battlefield there, with the Russian military advancing from three(3) sides to encircle them.
“The enemy has noted its efforts to carry out an offensive to encircle Lysychansk and Severodonetsk,” said Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk province, where the two cities are among the last territory still held by the Ukraine.
Further west in Sloviansk, one of the biggest Donbas cities still in Ukrainian hands, air raid sirens wailed on Tuesday, but the streets were still busy, with a market full, children riding bikes, and a street musician playing the violin by a supermarket.
Haidai said Ukrainian forces had driven the Russians out of the village of Toshkivka just south of Severodonetsk. Russian-backed separatists said they had taken control of Svitlodarsk, south of Bakhmut. Neither report could be independently confirmed.
The push in the east comes three months after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in what he described as a “special military operation” to “de-nazify” the country. Ukraine’s western allies say the invasion is a war of aggression.