Russia Seizes Severodonetsk Center as Ukraine War Turns in Putin's Favor

Russian troops forced Ukraine's units out of central Severodonetsk, a strategically vital city in Ukraine's eastern, the Ukrainian military said on Monday as Putin's forces increasingly press forward in the Donbas region.

"In the Severodonetsk direction, the enemy, with the support of artillery, carried out assault operations in the city of Severodonetsk, had partial success, pushed our units away from the city center, the fighting continues," the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Facebook.

The Ukrainian military said Russians fired artillery at its troops in the areas of the settlements of Lysychansk, Severodonetsk and Toshkivka.

A Ukrainian main battle tank in Severodonetsk
A Ukrainian main battle tank drives on a street during nearby mortar shelling in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine, on May 18, 2022, on the 84th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian troops forced Ukraine’s units out of the city center of Severodonetsk, a key city in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, the Ukrainian military said. YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Ukraine's Luhansk region, said the "next two or three days will be significant" for the city of Severodonetsk.

Putin's troops are pushing to capture the city, as well as Lysychansk; doing so would place all of Luhansk under Russian control and grant Russian President Vladimir Putin a form of military victory.

The Russian leader, who launched the Ukraine war on February 24, appears to now be focused on capturing Ukraine's Luhansk and Donetsk regions in full.

Gaidai said Saturday that "most of the city is controlled by Russians," as intense street fighting continued in Severodonetsk through the weekend.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that Ukrainian troops were fighting for "every meter" of Severodonetsk.

"The key tactical goal of the occupiers has not changed: they are pressing in Severodonetsk, severe fighting is ongoing there – literally for every meter," he said in his nightly video address.

In a plea to international partners, Zelensky said Ukraine "needs modern missile defense systems."

"The Russian army is trying to deploy reserve forces in Donbas," he said. "But what reserves can they have now? It seems that they will try to throw into battle poorly trained conscripts and those who were gathered by covert mobilization."

Zelensky added, "Russian generals see their people simply as the cannon fodder they need to gain an advantage in numbers—in manpower, in military equipment."

Hundreds of civilians are currently sheltering in the city's Azot chemical plant, including some 40 children, according to Gaidai.

The governor said Sunday he believes that in the next two days, Russia will "throw all the reserves to capture the city."

The U.K.'s Ministry of Defence suggested on Monday in order for Russia to achieve success in the current operational phase of its Donbas offensive, it is either going to have to complete ambitious flanking actions, or conduct assault river crossings.

Newsweek has contacted Russia's foreign ministry for comment.