Ukraine Takes Part of Donbas Town as Attack Intensifies: Luhansk Governor

Ukrainian troops have recaptured from Russian forces around one fifth of Severodonetsk amid fierce fighting in the Donbas city, a local official has said.

The comments by Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai, who has been leading the region's evacuation and working with Ukraine's military command, come amid a British intelligence assessment that Russia is increasing air strikes using both guided and unguided munitions.

Last month, the U.S. think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that if Russia took Severodonetsk, it could lead to Moscow's complete occupation of the Luhansk region.

But Haidai said that while Russian forces had previously controlled around 70 percent of Severodonetsk, Kyiv's troops had managed to push them out of 20 percent of the city.

Severodonetsk smoke rising
Smoke and dirt rise in the city of Severodonetsk during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops at the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 2, 2022. Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said that Ukrainian forces had pushed back Russian troops from the city. ARIS MESSINIS/Getty Images

Newsweek is still attempting to verify some of the claims being made.

Haidai gave an upbeat assessment of gains by the Ukrainian forces, saying that it was unlikely that Russian forces could take the city in the next two weeks, although he said "everything is possible," Ukrainian news outlet Hromadske reported, according to a translation.

In a Telegram post on Saturday, Haidai said Ukrainian forces repelled nine enemy attacks in the past 24 hours, but Russian forces were "throwing all their reserves at Severodonetsk" and that it was "impossible to deliver food and medicine to the city."

As previously reported, Haidai, told Newsweek that Ukraine's troops "will not be surrounded," that ammunition supplies would continue, and Ukraine's troops "will be able to hold their positions and attack the Russian forces from above."

Russian forces are seeking to capture all of Luhansk, one of two southern Ukrainian regions that make up the Donbas, but with the war now passed 100 days, they have been hit by setbacks elsewhere.

In its daily update, the British Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that Russian air activity has been restricted to deep strikes using air and surface launched cruise missiles, but these "have failed to have a meaningful impact on the conflict."

This was a consequence of Russia's "inability to suppress or destroy" Ukrainian strategic air defense systems at the start of the war which have limited its ability to provide tactical air support to ground maneuver elements.

"Russia has been able to increase its employment of tactical air to support its creeping advance, combining airstrikes and massed artillery fires to bring its overwhelming firepower to bear," British defense officials said.

On Saturday, Russian forces carried out a missile attack on an agricultural business in the southern region of Odesa, Interfax news agency reported. Meanwhile, Russia said its forces shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane carrying weapons and munitions near the Black Sea port.