Severodonetsk, rain of fire: “almost total Russian control”

from Lorenzo Cremonesi, sent to Sloviansk

The sister city Lysychansk, the last obstacle for the conquest of the Donbass, was also hit. In Moscow, soldiers of the Ukrainian Azov battalion exchanged 50 bodies

At best they say that the situation is complicated, but almost everyone does not hide that they have morale under their shoes. It’s bad, there are too many dead, the Russians are bombing hard and we don’t have the weapons to respond. We are much better on the pitch, they shoot harder and harder for them, they say discouraged. We spent several hours yesterday with the Ukrainian soldiers engaged on the Donbass front and precisely in the hot sector that goes from Izyum to Severodonetsk. In all, perhaps not even two hundred kilometers, nothing to do with the extent of the invasion wanted by Putin in the first phase of the war, yet precisely for this reason the Russians are now advancing and inflicting heavy losses on the Ukrainians. Battles always happen more or less the same way. The Russians begin with very intense barrage bombardments. They use everything they have available concentrated in a few tens of square kilometers: from artillery, to mortars, to aviation and armed drones.

The rain of fire typically lasts 40 minutes to 4 hours and destroys everything in it. Then 10 to 20 tanks advance and fire wildly at everything that still remains standing. Our soldiers find themselves in the open in a carpet of smoking rubble and then their armored columns arrive flanked by the infantry. But at that point we are no longer even able to adopt the kill box, which is the classic tactic of letting them advance and then attacking them from three sides, says Dima, a 29-year-old officer of the 95th Infantry Brigade who yesterday had just arrived in the gardens of the Sloviansk hospital to seek respite from the chaos of the battle. But it didn’t last long. Just as we speak, some large guns explode perhaps three kilometers from us and he reiterates, shaking his head that the front holds between attacks and counterattacks, for in the long run the Russian advance continues, very slow, does not stop.

The hospital

In the hospital a doctor shows pictures of some emergency interventions he had to carry out: men with disfigured faces, severed limbs, lives devastated forever. They are the graphic representation of this extremely difficult time for the Ukrainian forces. We had to withdraw from the center of Severodonetsk, we still resist in the suburbs, but it is not excluded that we must abandon the whole city in order not to be surrounded, even Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Lugansk province, declared yesterday. Known for his optimistic attitude, it was he who said only six days ago that the Ukrainians had resumed the initiative in Severodonetsk and they had settled over more than 50 percent of the city center, driving the Russians back. Now he points out instead that the enemies are bombing too Lysychanskthe sister city, but located on the western bank of the Seversky Donets River, the last natural obstacle on the way to Kramatorsk. The news released by the Kremlin spokespersons that a thousand of the approximately 2,000 Ukrainian fighters, who surrendered on May 20 after the heroic resistance in the basement of the Azovstal steel mills in Mariupol, have been transferred to Moscow does not help to raise the mood. . The Zelensky government appeals to international conventions and demands their immediate release. But in the Russian capital there are those who would like to try them on charges of terrorism, especially against the volunteers of the nationalist organization Azov, who risk capital punishment. On the sidelines, Kiev and Moscow exchanged the remains of 50 bodies respectively, among the Ukrainian corpses 37 come from Mariupol.

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