With the city effectively cut off, Serahi Haidai says it is now impossible to deliver supplies and evacuate civilians. Fierce fighting is taking place in the eastern city where Ukrainian officials said Russian artillery had driven their forces out of the centre.
The capture of Severodnetsk has been a top military goal for Russia for weeks. Taking Severodonetsk and the nearby city of Lysychansk would give Moscow control of the entire Luhansk region, much of which is already controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
All three bridges in Severodnetsk were destroyed, Haidai posted on Telegram. He said residents living in the city were being forced to survive in “extremely difficult conditions”.
Former British soldier Jordan Gatley is among those killed fighting to defend the city, his family confirmed on Sunday.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky described the humanitarian cost of fighting for the city as “terrible”. He said Ukrainian soldiers were fighting Russian forces “literally for every metre”.
Reports suggest that about 70% of the city is now under Russian control.
Speaking to media in Donetsk, Eduard Basurin said, “Ukrainian divisions that are there [in Severodonetsk] are there forever.”
A top Russian official said Moscow’s objective was to protect the self-declared people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
“In general, the protection of the republics is the main goal of the special military operation,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.
When President Vladimir Putin launched the offensive on 24 February, he said that Russia’s goal was to “demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine”. Later another objective was added: ensuring the neutral status of Ukraine.
Also on Monday, Ukrainian officials said the weapons supplied by the West were not arriving as fast as they should.
A senior presidential adviser to President Zelensky said Ukraine’s military needed “heavy weapons parity” to end the war, posting a list of military hardware he said Kyiv needed.