Kyiv: Russian attacks laid down a curtain of fire Tuesday across areas of eastern Ukraine where pockets of resistance are denying Moscow full military control of the region, almost four months after the Kremlin unleashed an invasion.
Today everything that can burn is on fire, Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region, told The Associated Press.
Russia's war has caused alarm over food supplies from Ukraine to the rest of the world and gas supplies from Russia, as well as raising questions about security in Western Europe.
The Russian military currently controls about 95% of the Luhansk region. But Moscow has struggled for weeks to overrun it completely, despite deploying additional troops and possessing a massive advantage in military assets.
In the city of Sievierodonetsk, the hot spot of the fighting, Ukrainian defenders held on to the Azot chemical plant in the industrial outskirts. About 500 civilians are sheltering at the plant, and Haidai said the Russian forces are turning the area into ruins.
It is a sheer catastrophe, Haidai told the AP in written comments about the plant. Our positions are being fired at from howitzers, multiple rocket launchers, large-caliber artillery, missile strikes.
The defence of the chemical plant recalled the besieged Azovstal steel mill in the brutalised city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian troops were pinned down for weeks.
The neighbouring Lysychansk, the only city in the Luhansk region that is still fully under Ukrainian control, is also the target of multiple airstrikes.
The Ukraine president's office said Tuesday that at least six civilians had been killed over the previous 24 hours, and 16 others were wounded.
According to its daily update, Russian forces over the day shelled the northern Chernihiv region, and intensified their shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city. Explosions also occurred on Tuesday morning in the southern city of Mykolaiv.
Airstrikes on Sievierodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk have ruined more than 10 residential buildings and a police station. In the city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, a school burned down as the result of the shelling, the president's office said.
International support for Ukraine's plight was demonstrated once more when a Nobel Peace Prize medal auctioned off by Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov sold Monday night for $103.5 million, shattering the old record for a Nobel. The auction aimed to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees.
Meanwhile, Russian authorities blocked the website of British newspaper The Telegraph over an article it published, the internet rights group Roskomsvoboda reported Tuesday.
The group said in an online statement that Russia's media and internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, blocked Russian access to a story Moscow described as fake news. The move made the entire Telegraph website inaccessible for some Russians.
The Telegraph story alleged that Russian forces had prepared a mobile crematorium for use in its war with Ukraine, possibly to hide its military casualties.