According to Ukrainian information, Russian troops in the Luhansk region have meanwhile taken half of the embattled region’s capital, Sievjerodonetsk. The front line runs down the middle, said the head of the local military administration, Olexandr Strjuk, on Tuesday. The fighting is still going on.

The city is the last bastion in the Luhansk region under Ukrainian control. If it falls, the military leadership in Moscow and the pro-Russian separatists will have achieved what they regard as an important stage in the war of aggression in Ukraine: full control of the Luhansk region.

Stryuk had previously said that Sieverodonetsk was two-thirds surrounded by Russian troops. In addition, 90 percent of the buildings were damaged or destroyed. Today only 12,000 of the 100,000 inhabitants are still in the city. About 1,500 people have been killed there since the Russian shelling began.

Because Luhansk has been controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, the administrative center of the Ukrainian region is now in Sievjerodonetsk. At the moment, an average of 100 Russian “occupiers” are killed in the fighting every day, Strjuk said. The Ukrainian news agency Unian published pictures of some citizens remaining in the city having their picture taken as “collaborators” with Russians.

In a video speech on Tuesday, regional governor Serhiy Gajdaj also warned of the effects of a Russian attack that hit a nitric acid tank at a chemical plant.