Russia-Ukraine War News: Live Updates

Recognition…Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters

LVIV, Ukraine — Days after Ukrainian officials confirmed their forces had withdrawn from the devastated industrial city of Sievierodonetsk, the city’s exiled mayor on Monday painted a bleak picture of life for those who remained there in an eastern part where Russian forces are based focused on their attention in the last few weeks.

“There is no good news to share with you,” Mayor Oleksandr Striuk said in a morning news conference, as he described a Russian-held city that was devastated by artillery fire and razed in places.

About 7,000 to 8,000 civilians, out of a pre-war population of 160,000, were still in the city when it was captured by Russian forces on Friday, Mr Striuk said, based on information from sources still inside. Their humanitarian situation is catastrophic, the infrastructure has been destroyed and clean water and food are scarce.

About 90 percent of the city’s buildings were destroyed, Ukrainian officials said earlier.

Ukrainian forces have retreated west towards Lysychansk, the twin city on the opposite bank of the Siversky Donets River. But with no bridges standing, they had to use whatever materials they could find in Sievierodonetsk to retreat, Mr Striuk said.

As the situation worsened, he and other local officials were forced to flee to Ukraine. Those who remain are likely to be allowed to evacuate only to Russian-held cities, as was the case in other conquered areas.

Sievierodonetsk has some symbolic importance, the mayor conceded, and it has become a regional administrative center in Luhansk province after pro-Russian separatists seized part of the region in 2014.

He also said Russian forces would now likely focus their efforts on Lysychansk, the last city in Luhansk to remain in Ukrainian hands.

After abandoning their thwarted push to take Kyiv early in the war, Russian forces attempted to claim full control of Donbass, the eastern region containing the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces where their separatist allies already held territory.

On Monday, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai called on civilians to evacuate Lysyhansk, describing the situation as “very difficult”.

“Due to the real threat to life and health, we are calling for an immediate evacuation,” he said in a post on social messaging app Telegram. “Save yourself and your loved ones. take care of the kids Make sure you are taken care of in the evacuation cities on the territory of Ukraine.”

The General Staff of Ukraine’s military said in a statement Monday that Russian forces were attempting to blockade Lysyhansk from the south with artillery support and shelling civilian and military infrastructure in the region.

Even after the Ukrainians withdrew from Sieverodonetsk, the Russian attack on the East did not abate. Russian troops carried out 20 attacks on 12 settlements in Donetsk province from Sunday to Monday, causing civilian casualties, according to a telegram contribution from Ukraine’s National Police.

Much of Ukraine, even western and northern areas that have escaped the worst fighting in recent weeks, remained tense on Monday after tensions were heightened by a sudden escalation in strikes in Kyiv and other areas over the weekend.

Dozens of rockets were fired from Belarusian airspace at Kyiv and the surrounding region, killing at least one person in the city.

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