Russian soldiers have infiltrated the outskirts of the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, a regional governor reported on Monday, describing the fighting in the town as "very fierce" Sievierodonetsk as a crucial aim for Moscow's advance in the Donbas.
Governor of the Luhansk region Serhiy Gaidai reported that shelling killed two civilians and wounded five others as Russian soldiers advanced into the city's southeast and northeastern outskirts.
Ukrainian forces are defending ruins in Sievierodonetsk due to constant bombardment, but their reluctance to retreat has stalled a significant Russian advance across the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
"About ninety percent of structures are damaged. Over two-thirds of the housing stock in the city has been entirely destroyed. In a televised address, there is no communication available, "President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky stated.
"Sievierodonetsk's capture is essential for the occupiers... We make every effort to maintain this advance."
Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that the "liberation" of the Donbas, an industrial region that includes Luhansk and Donetsk, was Moscow's "unconditional priority."
Sunday, Ukrainian forces in the Donbas reportedly spent the whole day on the defensive. At least three civilians were killed, and two more were injured as Russian forces opened fire on 46 localities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, demolishing or damaging 62 civilian houses.
Sunday saw the continuation of Russian shelling in various districts, including Novy Buh, Mykolaiv, and Sumy.
A Ukrainian soldier on patrol in trenches in the village of Bakhmut, southwest of Sievierodonetsk, expressed concern that his government could be enticed into negotiating an end to the battle that would result in the loss of Ukrainian territory.
"You know now what I'm most afraid of, now that the fighting is so intense, so tough?" Former English language instructor Dmytro told Reuters television. We would be informed, 'That's it, halt, the ceasefire is in effect.'
"A negotiated settlement can only happen on Ukrainian terms and at present if it happened it would be a horror," he added, adding that Zelenskiy's career would be over if this occurred.
On Monday and Tuesday, European Union leaders will meet to debate a new package of penalties against Russia, including an oil embargo.
EU states have not agreed on the sixth package of sanctions against Moscow because the planned oil embargo is unacceptable to Hungary and a significant concern for Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Ahead of the summit, German Economic Minister Robert Habeck expressed concern that EU unity was "starting to crumble," A copy of the meeting's conclusions seen by Reuters showed that few new decisions would be made.
However, EU foreign policy leader Josep Borrell stated that "there will be an agreement in the end," agreeing on the second sanctions package expected by Monday afternoon.
Separately, French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna will meet with Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Monday evening to provide additional help for the country, according to the French ministry of foreign affairs.
Having failed to capture Kyiv in the early stages of the conflict, Russia is now attempting to solidify its dominance over the Donbas, a substantial portion of which is already under the hands of Moscow-backed rebels.
The Ukrainian administration wants the West to provide more long-range missiles to help alter the tide of the four-month-old conflict. Zelensky anticipated "good news" within the next few days.
According to U.S. authorities, such weapon systems are being intensively considered. Canada has requested that South Korea provide it with artillery ammunition, Seoul announced on Monday, ostensibly to "backfill" munitions that Ottawa had supplied to Ukraine.
According to analysts at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, the Russians could not encircle Sievierodonetsk. They suffered "fearful casualties" at the hands of the Ukrainian defenders.
According to a briefing document, the Ukrainians suffered heavy losses, both civilians and combatants.
Analysts stated that Russia's attention on Sievierodonetsk diverted resources from other battlefronts, resulting in little advances elsewhere.