Russia has taken control of multiple Ukrainian settlements near Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, the head of the Severodonetsk district military administration, Roman Vlasenko, has said.

Severodonetsk, a city in Luhansk Region, lies northeast on the left bank of the Siverskiy Donets river and approximately 110 kilometers northwest of the region’s capital of Luhansk. It faces Lysychansk across the river.

“According to our information, as of today, Toshkivka is controlled entirely by the Russians,” Vlasenko told Ukrainian television on Tuesday, June 21, adding that the battle for Donbas is “now in full swing.”

Toshkivka, about 25 kilometers south of Severodonetsk, had a population of around 5,000 before the onset of the war, with its loss marking the Russians’ deeper push into the Donbas. The Kyiv Post has not been able to verify an updated population figure for Toshkivka as of this article’s posting.

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The Russians have also reportedly captured Mala Dolyna and Pidisne, both southwest of Severodonetsk, along with further settlements near Hirske, Luhansk Region.

The current situation for Ukrainian troops in the eastern Donbas is “extremely difficult”, Luhansk Region governor, Serhiy Haidai, said, amid intensifying attacks across the east that saw numerous civilians killed, including at least 15 civilians who died in the Kharkiv Region as a result of Russian shelling.

“The Russians are approaching Lysychansk, [and] entrenching in nearby towns,” Haidai said.

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“Lysychansk is under heavy fire now,” he added. “The city is being shelled from artillery, tanks and aircraft. There are at least three wounded civilians there, several policemen were injured.”

According to Haidai, street fights were continuing in Severodonetsk.

In Donetsk Region, the General Staff said Russian forces were using multiple launch rocket systems “to create conditions for the resumption of the offensive on the city of Sloviansk,” adding that Ukrainian units had prevented the Russians from advancing toward Bakhmut from the south.

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Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials have also reported Russian shelling of settlements in the Donetsk and Zaporizhia regions.

The head of the Donetsk regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said one person had been killed and six children wounded in shelling of the city of Chasiv Yar.

But Russian forces appear to be concentrating their main firepower on Severodonetsk, with 568 civilians still holed up in the Azot chemical plant there.

Governor Haidai said efforts to evacuate the civilians, who are hiding in a number of shelters, were ongoing.

“This shouldn’t be compared to Azovstal. This is not an underground bunker, but several separate shelters unconnected to one another. There is a different number of people in each of these shelters,” Haidai said.

“We are constantly communicating with them,” he added. “We have offered to evacuate them on many occasions, but they don’t want to do it.”

Almost two months have passed since Russian forces began their assault on Severodonetsk. But their attack has been met with fierce resistance by Ukrainian soldiers, who have inflicted heavy losses on the invading army, according to media reports.

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“Russian troops are likely facing mounting losses and troop and equipment degradation that will complicate attempts to renew offensive operations on other critical locations as the slow battle for Severodonetsk continues,” the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based think tank, said in a June 21 report.

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