Updated June 26th, 2022 at 07:55 IST

Zelenskyy vows to retake lost cities as Severodonetsk falls to Russia after intense battle

Zelenskyy said Ukraine will take back all cities from Russian occupation after the city of Severodonetsk fell to invading troops after days of a tough battle.

Reported by: Dipaneeta Das
IMAGE: AP | Image:self

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday vowed to take back all cities from Russian occupation after the strategic industrial city of Severodonetsk fell to invading troops amid the ongoing war. Speaking during his daily night address, Zelenskyy admitted that the war was becoming "morally and emotionally difficult" to handle as Russian troops targetted at least 45 missile strikes on Ukraine over the night and day on Saturday. However, he added, Russia's "cynical" efforts to break the spirit of his people will be a "doomed attempt."

"Therefore, all our cities - Severodonetsk, Donetsk, Luhansk - we will get them all back," Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy's comments come after Ukrainian troops were asked to withdraw from the remaining foothold of Severodonetsk after a decisive defence against Russian forces. As the grinding war intensified in the past week, most of the Severodonetsk city was already held by Russia with Ukrainian soldiers holed up in the Azot steel plant. Earlier this week, the invaders captured the largely depopulated town at a huge cost of lives and military equipment.

According to local media reports, every four-building out of five have been severely damaged beyond repair due to arbitrary Russian shelling. Vital civilian and commercial infrastructure has also been destroyed in the two months long-running fierce fight in the region, Luhansk City Council Administrative head Serhiy Haidai had said after he announced the withdrawal of troops from Severodonetsk on Friday. At least 100 have been killed in the city of 1 lakh in the past two months, while others evacuated to other parts of Ukraine or Europe.

Severodonetsk now under the full occupation of Russia, says Ukrainian official

Russia has fully seized the city of Severodonetsk, Luhansk Region, and appointed a ‘commandant’, said Severodonetsk City Military Civil Administration Head Oleksandr Striuk, adding that "now they are filming propagandist videos with civilians, who are leaving bomb shelters at the Azot plant."

“The city is now under the full occupation of Russia. They are trying to establish their own order. As far as I know they have appointed some kind of ‘commandant’, who is now gathering some ‘active core’,” Striuk said as per Ukrinform.

He further said that the city has been damaged and it will be difficult for civilians to survive there. However, a hospital has a stock of vital medicines in advance to ensure that medical aid can be given in case of emergency.

According to Striuk, Ukrainians started to leave bomb shelters at the Azot plant. “These people have spent about three months in bomb shelters, basements. It is difficult for them emotionally, psychologically. Now they require aid, medical and psychological,” he stressed.

Russia pounded Ukraine with 45 missile strikes in 24 hours

Russian troops throughout Saturday struck 45 missiles on Ukraine's Zhytomyr, Lviv, Mykolaiv, and Chernihiv regions in a show of strength, Zelenskyy said. "This is such a phase of the war morally and emotionally difficult...we do not feel the limits of this, we do not feel how many more strikes, losses, efforts will be before we see that victory is already on our horizon," the embattled President said. He added, the Russian strikes are "very calculated pressure" on the people to douse their spirits but no Russian strikes can "break the morale of Ukrainians." Noting the aggravated Russian attack, Zelenskyy also briefly reiterated his calls for more sanctions against the Russian Federation.

(Image: AP)


Published June 26th, 2022 at 07:53 IST