Russia squeezes Ukrainian strongholds in east

Kyiv: Russian forces on Friday pounded the last Ukrainian strongholds in a separatist-controlled eastern province of Ukraine, including a city where authorities said 1,500 people have been killed and 60% of residential buildings destroyed since the start of the war.

Ukraine's foreign minister warned that without a new injection of foreign weapons, Ukrainian forces would not be able to stop Russia from seizing Sievierodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk, locations that are crucial to Russia's goal of capturing all of Ukraine's industrial Donbas region. The cities are the last areas under Ukrainian control in Luhansk, one of two provinces that make up the region. Russian forces have made slow but persistent advances as they bombarded and sought to encircle both Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk. The Russians are pounding residential neighborhoods relentlessly, regional governor Serhiy Haidai wrote in a Telegram post Friday.

The residents of Sievierodonetsk have forgotten when was the last time there was silence in the city for at least half an hour.

Russian shelling killed four people in the city over the past 24 hours, he said. Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said late Thursday that at least 1,500 people have been killed in Sievierodonetsk since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. About 12,000 to 13,000 remain in the city down from a pre-war population of about 100,000 - and 60% of residential buildings have been destroyed, he said.

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