Pro-Russian separatists say resistance in key Ukrainian cities ‘futile’

The resistance of Ukrainian forces defending the twin cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk — the site of fierce weeks-long fighting — is “futile”, a representative of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine told AFP on Thursday. 

“Their resistance is pointless and futile. I think that at the rate our soldiers are going, very soon the whole territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic will be liberated,” said Andrei Marochko, a spokesman for the army of Lugansk, a pro-Russian breakaway region in eastern Ukraine.

According to Marochko, Lysychansk is practically surrounded as Russian forces and their separatist allies are now controlling the main supply route to the city.

“We have full logistical control,” he said, a day after separatists claimed to have encircled the neighbouring village of Zolote and Hirske. 

Marochko said Ukrainian soldiers in Lysychansk must retreat, or risk being killed or captured. The same is true for the defenders of Severodonetsk, where the embattled city’s defenders are holed up inside the Azot chemical plant, he added. 

“If we close in on Lysychansk, the (Ukrainian) group in Severodonetsk will also be surrounded,” he said. 

Intense fighting for the strategic city of Severodonetsk has raged as Russia advances in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Capturing Severodonetsk — the largest city in Lugansk still under Ukrainian control — would allow Moscow’s forces to advance further west.