Civilians in Lysychansk have been urged to leave immediately as Russian troops gain ground in Ukraine’s last remaining city in the eastern region of Luhansk.
“Due to the real threat to life and health, we are calling for immediate evacuation. The situation in the city is very difficult,” Serhiy Hayday, the head of Luhansk’s regional military administration, told Telegram.
He promised citizens that they would be taken care of in other Ukrainian cities.
Videos from Lysychansk suggest that some citizens are reluctant to leave their homes, regardless of who runs the city.
There are still about 10,000 to 15,000 people in Lysychansk, with only about 50 people leaving every day, according to Shybiko Valerii, the head of Ukraine’s Lysychansk Military Administration.
Armed forces of the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), which is fighting alongside the Russian army, said Monday that they are “developing a successful offensive in the Lysychansk area with the Russian army’s fire support”.
“The enemy suffered heavy losses in manpower and armored vehicles,” it said on its Telegram channel.
“The people’s militia continues to liberate the Kiev-occupied area,” the LPR added, claiming that the village of Borivske, within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of Lysychansk, is now under control.
Officers of the LPR militia claimed they had cut off two evacuation routes for Ukrainian troops from Lysychansk, according to a reporter from state news agency Ria Novosti.
There has been heavy fighting southwest of Lysychansk around Vovchoyarivka, close to the main road to the west, as Russian forces strive to complete the encirclement of the city.