Horror as Russia set to control most of key city as governor warns life is hell in area

Russia: State TV warns ‘we can still do plenty’

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Speaking from a secret location inside the Luhansk Oblast, Serhiy Hayday said it would be a morale boost for the Kremlin but played down its military significance. Mr Hayday suggested that Ukrainian forces may make a tactical retreat from the city in order to save lives and take up defensive positions outside.

He told Sky News: “It seems to me, but I’m not a military person, that there is no sense in losing a lot of soldiers to recapture the city which has no strategic military sense.

“In a military sense the city doesn’t matter because for example the neighbouring city of Lysychansk has more high ground and the military will have better positions.

“We’ve restrained the Russian army for more than three months, it must be understood, and they sent all their troops to capture the Luhansk region.

“The longer we resist, then the more we get foreign weapons, rearm the troops and then we can at least stop the Russian army, later even counterattack.”

Mr Hayday said that life was currently “hell” for people in Lugansk where there is no electricity, gas and water with the region under constant bombardment.

The governor added that he had seen many examples of war crimes committed by Russian forces.

He said: “Our children are dying. Russians are dropping bombs on schools where people are hiding.

“Russians have destroyed all electricity and water substations. People have no water. 

“They shot main gas pipes, they destroyed all our hospitals. Many civilians have died.

“The firing is so intense that people have to bury their neighbours somewhere in their yards.

“Sometimes shelling even happens during the burials.

“One pro-Ukrainian volunteer was shot dead directly in a wheelchair at his house. 

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“Our women are being raped and tortured. The Russian army is committing a lot of war crimes here.”

The Ministry of Defence has said they believe Russia’s main aim is to encircle Severodonetsk closing the pocket around the Ukrainian forces in the Luhansk Oblast.

They said: “Progress has been slow but gains are being held.

“Routes into the pocket likely remain under Ukrainian control.

“Russia has achieved greater local successes than earlier in the campaign by massing forces and fires in a relatively small area.

“This forces Russia to accept risk elsewhere in occupied territory.”

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