Ukraine: Russia destroys bridge, cuts off escape route
Russian forces have blown up a bridge linking the embattled Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk to another city across the river, cutting off a possible evacuation route for civilians, local officials said on Sunday.
Sievierodonetsk has become the epicentre of the battle for control over Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Parts of the city have been pulverized in some of the bloodiest fightings since the Kremlin unleashed its invasion on February 24.
“The key tactical goal of the occupiers has not changed: they are pressing in Sievierodonetsk, severe fighting is ongoing there – literally for every meter,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address, adding that Russia’s military was trying to deploy reserve forces to the Donbas.
Zelensky said the image of a 12-year-old injured in a Russian strike was now the enduring worldwide face of Russia.
“These very facts will underscore the way in which Russia is seen by the world,” he said.
“Not Peter the Great, not Lev Tolstoy, but children injured and killed in Russian attacks,” he said, in an apparent reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remarks last week comparing Moscow’s military campaign to Russian emperor Peter the Great’s 18th-century conquest of lands held by Sweden.
Ukrainian and Russian forces were still fighting street-by-street in Sievierodonetsk on Sunday, the governor of Luhansk province, Serhiy Gaidai, said.
“About 500 civilians remain on the territory of the Azot plant in Sievierodonetsk, 40 of them are children. Sometimes the military manages to evacuate someone,” Gaidai said.
But the Russians had destroyed a bridge over the Siverskyi Donets River linking Sievierodonetsk with its twin city of Lysychansk, Gaidai said.
That left just one of three bridges still standing.
“If after new shelling the bridge collapses, the city will truly be cut off. There will be no way of leaving Sievierodonetsk in a vehicle,” Gaidai said, noting the lack of a cease-fire agreement and no agreed evacuation corridors.