Residents of Sievierodonetsk are hiding in the basements of city buildings, like this woman, photographed last July 1.
As the Russian army continues to shell the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, a humanitarian crisis is looming in Sievierodonetsk, which has been the scene of intense fighting for the month last.
Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaidai warned Friday of deteriorating living conditions in the city, captured by Russian forces two weeks ago.
He claims that Sievierodonetsk is without water, electricity and a working sewage system, while bodies are decomposing in apartment buildings where he is oppressive heat.
[Sievierodonetsk] is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster, the governor wrote on social media. The Russians have completely destroyed all important infrastructure, and they are unable to repair anything.
The advance of the Russian army in the Luhansk region is at the expense of the Ukrainians, like this resident of Sievierodonetsk.
Russia continues its operational pause started since the capture of the neighboring town of Lysytchansk on July 3, which gives it control of Luhansk, one of the two regions of the Donbass, says the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Yet Russian troops are still carrying out limited ground offensives and air, artillery and missile strikes on all axes, according to the ISW, which sees them continuing to be limited to small-scale actions, time to rebuild their forces and create the conditions for a more significant offensive in the coming weeks or months.
Governor Sergey Gaidai has accused the Russians of launching indiscriminate artillery barrages as they try to secure their gains in Luhansk province. This week, Moscow claimed full control of the region, but the governor and other Ukrainian officials countered that their troops retained a small part of the province.
“Luhansk was not completely captured, even though the Russians committed their full arsenal to achieve this goal,” Gaidai told The Associated Press. Fierce battles are taking place in several villages on the border of the region. The Russians rely on tanks and artillery to advance.
—Sergiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region
Russian forces are hitting any buildings they believe could be a fortified position, he said added. They are not stopped by the fact that civilians are there and they are dying in their homes and yards. They keep shooting.
The Russian army conducts ground offensives and air, artillery and missile strikes in the Donbass, in eastern Ukraine.
Russian shelling in the Donetsk region left six dead and 21 injured in 24 hours, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko announced.
Also, Russian forces launched a limited and unsuccessful assault north of the city of Kharkiv, according to the ISW. Russian shelling killed four civilians and injured nine in 24 hours, Governor Oleg Sinegoubov said.
A man cries over the body of his wife, killed in a Russian bombardment in Kharkiv on July 7.
Russia is likely concentrating equipment towards Siversk, about 8 km from its current front line, west of Sievierodonetsk, according to UK MoD Ben Wallace.
There is a realistic possibility that Siversk is the immediate tactical objective for Russia, whose forces are trying to advance towards their most likely operational goal, the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk urban area, he says.
The Ukrainian army claimed to have repelled an attempted Russian advance, but recognized an enemy advance south of Siversk.
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There is no comprehensive toll of civilian casualties from the conflict. The UN has tallied nearly 5,000 confirmed dead, including more than 300 children, but acknowledges that the true number is likely much higher.
For the city of Mariupol alone, in the south-east of the country, which fell in May after a terrible siege, the Ukrainian authorities evoked some 20,000 deaths, without providing any proof.
On the military level, some Western sources now mention 15,000 to 20,000 Russian soldiers killed. Ukrainian forces are losing around 100 soldiers every day, according to kyiv.
No independent statistics are available.
More than 6 million Ukrainians are internally displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ).
They join the approximately 5.5 million Ukrainians registered as refugees in other European states since the start of the invasion, February 24.
With information from Agence France-Presse, and Associated Press