Russian and Ukrainian troops engaged in close-quarter combat in an eastern Ukraine city Sunday as Moscow’s soldiers, supported by intense shelling, attempted to gain strategic footholds in the region while facing fierce Ukrainian resistance.
Ukrainian regional officials reported that Russian forces were “storming” the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, where the fighting has knocked out power and cellphone services and terrorized civilians who haven’t fled.
Sievierodonetsk, a manufacturing center, has emerged as an epicenter of Russia’s quest to conquer Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region. Russia also stepped up its efforts to take nearby Lysychansk, where Ukrainian officials reported constant shelling.
The two cities, with a combined prewar population of around 200,000, are the last major areas under Ukrainian control in Luhansk province, which makes up the Donbas together with neighboring Donetsk. Russia is focused on capturing parts of both not already controlled by pro-Moscow separatists.