After weeks of fierce fighting, the Ukrainian army says it has been pushed back from the center of the strategically important city of Sievjerodonetsk in the Donbass region. The Russian army, with the support of its artillery, “partially” managed to push back the Ukrainian soldiers in the city center, the Ukrainian general staff announced on the online service Facebook on Monday.

The governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Hajdaj, also reported a “partial” success of the Russian troops on Monday night. Russian forces continued to “destroy” Sieverodonetsk, Hajday said on Facebook.

Moscow is providing its troops in the Luhansk region with “more and more equipment” to “encircle” Sieverodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk, the Ukrainian regional governor said. According to him, three civilians have been killed by Russian bombardments in Lysychansk in the past 24 hours, including a six-year-old boy.

Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk have been the scene of heavy fighting for weeks. They are the last two cities in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region that Russia has not yet captured.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of intense fighting in Sieverodonetsk late Sunday evening. The Ukrainian troops and the Russian army were fighting there “for every meter,” he said. Army chief Valeriy Zalushny said “every meter of Ukrainian land” in the region was “soaked in blood”. But not only the Ukrainian, but also the Russian army suffered heavy losses.

According to Ukrainian sources, hundreds of civilians sought refuge in the Azot chemical plant in the embattled industrial city of Sieverodonetsk. “There are about 500 civilians on the premises of the Azot plant, 40 of them are children,” says the governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Hajday. Occasionally, the military succeed in evacuating individuals. The industrial area is under heavy fire, explains Serhij Hajdaj on Facebook.

According to its own statements, the Ukrainian army now has a front of around 2450 kilometers to defend against ongoing Russian attacks. “Active combat operations are being conducted along 1,105 kilometers of this,” Commander-in-Chief Valery Saluschny wrote on Facebook on Monday night after a conversation with US General Mark Milley.

The situation around the city of Sievjerodonetsk in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine is particularly difficult. The enemy deployed seven battalion groups there and had a tenfold superiority in fire. “Every meter of Ukrainian soil there is soaked with blood – not only with ours, but also with that of the occupiers,” said Zalushnyj.

On some sections of the front, Ukrainian units have also counterattacked. Recently there have been reports of Ukrainian land gains on the border of the southern Ukrainian regions of Mykolaiv and Cherson. Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

According to British intelligence services, river crossings are likely to play a crucial role in the coming phase of the Ukraine war. A central part of Russia’s front line in the Donbass region lies west of the Seversky Donets River, the UK Defense Ministry said in an update on Monday.

Therefore, in order to make further progress in the Donbass, Russia must either carry out complicated flank attacks or undertake river crossings. So far, the Russians have often not been able to successfully master large-scale river crossings under fire. The Ukrainians, on the other hand, had repeatedly managed to destroy bridges before retreating.

Since the start of Russia’s war of aggression more than three months ago, the British government has regularly released intelligence information about its progress. Moscow accuses London of a targeted disinformation campaign.