Moscow mounted up new successes in its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, with British officials saying Russia now controls most of the key hub city of Severodonetsk and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying Russia now controls 20% of his country.
Capturing Severodonetsk is crucial in Russia’s plan to capture Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. While Russia now occupies the bulk of the city, Ukraine still controls the main road into the city, a British military report said.
“The main road into the Severodonetsk pocket likely remains under Ukrainian control but Russia continues to make steady local gains, enabled by a heavy concentration of artillery,” the British report said.
“Potential crossing sites include between Severodonetsk and the neighboring town of Lysychansk and near recently captured Lyman. In both locations, the river line likely still remains controlled by Ukrainian forces, who have destroyed existing bridges.”
Despite the losses, Oleksii Hromov, deputy head of the Operations Directorate of Ukraine’s general staff, said there are no plans to withdraw.
“Regarding the withdrawal of our troops. At the moment, our troops, which are engaged in the defense of Severodonetsk, do not face such a task,” Hromov said, according to CNN. “The units will carry out tasks with all the available forces and means, with the available resources.”
The news concerning Severodonetsk comes as Ukrainian President Zelensky said in a video address Thursday to the Luxembourg parliament that Russia now occupies 20% of the country.
Zelensky said the current fighting front lines now stretch some 620 miles and about 100 Ukrainians are dying per day in the east.
“We have to defend ourselves against almost the entire Russian army,” Zelensky said, according to The Guardian. “All combat ready Russian military formations are involved in this aggression.”
In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, its forces have been able to push Kremlin forces nearly out of artillery range, marking one of Ukraine’s biggest successes. Russia, though, still occupies one-third of the larger Kharkiv region.