Russia demanded the surrender of Ukrainian soldiers in Severodonetsk after destroying the only bridge leading into the city, trapping those left behind in one of the bloodiest battlegrounds of the war.
Mikhail Mizintsev, the chief of Russia's National Defence Management Centre, instructed Kyiv's military to "cease their senseless resistance and lay down their arms."
Fighting has raged door-to-door in the industrial city that would give Russia complete control of Luhansk, one-half of the Donbas area, with footage from the front lines showing soldiers furiously firing at each other from close range.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky stated that the cost of the conflict was "terrifyingly high," ranking it as one of the bloodiest in European history.
Due to the destruction of two bridges connecting Severodonetsk to the neighboring city of Lysychansk, Ukraine relied on the remaining crossing to transport supplies and evacuate inhabitants.
According to Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk area, relief convoys were shelled at around half of the crossings. The asphalt of the bridge was filled with craters, and burned-out vehicles partially blocked the route.
In one video captured within the city, Ukrainian troops can be seen attempting to evacuate an older woman with a shattered and bloodied arm. Under severe bombardment, a woman continuously makes the sign of the cross in another.
Tuesday, Haidai stated in his daily video broadcast that Russia had not "completely captured" the strategically significant city and that "part of the city" was still under Ukrainian control.
According to a local official, Moscow has utilized its "significant artillery advantage" to launch ground assaults on the city center, and Russian troops have used the shelling to drive away Ukrainian defenders.
"The Russians are destroying quarter after quarter," Haidai added, adding that the Russian forces had achieved "partial nighttime success."
An estimated 15,000 residents are believed to be trapped in Severodonetsk with no way to reach the nearby city of Lysychansk, which is also being shelled but remains under Ukrainian control.
The surviving residents must endure "extremely difficult conditions," according to Haidai.
In a subsequent post on the Telegram messaging application, Haidai said that civilians were forced to leave a "real hell" due to persistent Russian shelling.
He claimed that escape routes were treacherous, with residents "running under fire to the car" and unable to go until nightfall.
He stated, "The shelling is so intense that people can no longer stand in the shelters." However, as long as it is feasible to preserve at least one life, we will not lose.
There is growing concern that Severodonetsk could become another Mariupol, the southern Ukrainian port virtually destroyed by months of Russian bombing.
Russian soldiers have practically attacked the massive Azot chemical complex, where 500 civilians, including 40 children, are taking refuge in bunkers.
As circumstances on the ground deteriorate, the attacks have released clouds of poisonous chemicals needed to create nitrogen fertilizers into the skies.
According to Haidai, Ukrainian officials have failed to remove citizens from the chemical complex in talks with Moscow.
"We are attempting to organize a corridor with the assistance of Irina Vereshchuk [Ukraine's deputy prime minister]," he stated. It has been unsuccessful thus far.
He continued, "Azot's shelters are weaker than Mariupol's Azovstal, so we must evacuate people with security guarantees."
In addition, Russia volunteered to organize a humanitarian convoy to rescue the population taking refuge in the Azot chemical factory.
On Tuesday (local time), many evacuees from the ammonia plant, which has deep bunkers and running water, informed The Telegraph that severe Russian bombardment has resulted in deadly ammonia gas leaks.
The width of the Siversky Donets river between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk is around 50 meters.
The mayor of Severodonetsk, Oleksandr Stryuk, stated that civilian evacuations would continue despite the loss of the bridge. He said they were completed "one by one, and every opportunity is taken."
On the opposite bank of the river from Severodonetsk, Ukrainian soldiers hold the higher ground, posing a challenge to Russian troops if they wish to continue their attack.
The West has offered more arms to bolster Ukraine's fight in the Donbas, but as of Tuesday, Ukraine had received only 10 percent of the requested munitions.
Anna Malyar, the deputy defense minister, stated, "We received about 10 percent of what we requested," adding that the West should accelerate its delivery timeline.
The lives of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians hang in the balance with each passing day of delay.
She alluded to the Russian assault in Donbas, "We cannot wait too long because the situation is extremely complicated."
This Thursday, the British Ministry of Defense stated that river crossings would be vital to the next phase of the conflict.
It was said in a daily briefing that Russia would have to accomplish either bold flanking efforts or assault river crossings.
"Ukrainian forces have frequently been able to demolish bridges before withdrawing, whereas Russia has struggled to implement the complex coordination required to conduct large-scale river crossings under fire."