Russia-Ukraine war: Attack on Severodonetsk kills at least 6

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May 21 (UPI) — Russian attacks in and around the city of Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s Luhansk region have killed at least six civilians, a Ukrainian official confirmed Saturday.

“The Russians are destroying Severodonetsk, like Mariupol,” Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Saturday, according to The Washington Post.

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Bombardments in and around the easternmost city under Ukraine’s control killed at least six civilians, Haidai said.

The victims included two people sheltering in a school basement, two women killed by Russian shelling in nearby towns of Lysychansk and Privillia, and a man and woman who died near their house in Severodonetsk, according to Haidai.

Three people were also injured when the school was targeted.

On Thursday, 12 people died in the Russian army’s bombing and shelling of Severodonestsk, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement.

The Russians “have thrown all their forces and efforts into the assault on Severodonetsk and cutting off the Lysychansk-Bakhmut route, so that we can’t evacuate people, deliver the humanitarian aid or deliver any supplies or ammunition to our defenders,” Haidai told CNN.

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“Fighting is currently taking place on the outskirts of Severodonetsk,” he added, saying that Ukraine defenders have fended off 11 enemy attacks.

Russian tanks, artillery systems and combat vehicles have been destroyed in the fighting, and two Russian drones have been shot down, according to Haidai.

A cooling tower at the Azot nitrogen ammonia plant in Severodonetsk caught fire, and the fire was put out before it could spread, he added.

About 1,000 people were in the plant’s bomb shelters, according to Haidai, who said that authorities were trying to provide them humanitarian aid.

The plant “was not working to its full capacity, as it used to during Soviet times,” Haidai also said. “But anyway there are the remnants of chemicals, which are hazardous and highly explosive.”

The Luhansk region, along with Donetsk collectively known as the Donbas region, has been partially controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

Russian forces have attempted to take full control of both regions as part of an attempt to control the eastern Donbas region in the latest phase of the invasion of Ukraine, which began Feb. 24.

The Russian Defense Ministry said at a briefing Saturday that sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles around the Malyn train station in the Zhytomyr region west of Kyiv destroyed a “large” batch of weapons delivered to the region from the United States and Europe.

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Meanwhile, on Friday, Russia claimed full control of the Azovstal steel plant, the last Ukrainian holdout in the besieged city of Mariupol, but Ukraine has not confirmed Moscow’s claims.

Ukrainian troops have forced Russian forces to retreat from encircling the city of Kharkiv, which is Ukraine’s second largest city.

Still, at least seven people were injured Friday, including an 11-year-old, in a Russian missile strike on a cultural center in the eastern city of Lozova in the Kharkiv region.

Zelensky referred to the attack in Lozova as “absolute evil.”

Meanwhile, Kherson in southern Ukraine has been under control since early in the invasion.

Russian forces let a convoy of about 1,000 vehicles move in batches to evacuate last week after holding it one place for most of the day.

With the Russia-Ukraine war approaching three months, there have been at least 3,838 civilians killed and 4,351 injured, according to a United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner update. The update notes that actual civilian casualties may be even higher due to delayed reports and many reports still pending corroboration.

Priest Andrii Gavalin presides over the funeral of Eugene Bogdanov, 35, in Bucha, Ukraine, on May 10. Bogdanov went missing two months ago. His wife, Natalia Bogdanova, was searching for him throughout the Kyiv and Bucha regions when his body was found at a morgue in Belaya Tserkov on May 9. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo