Russian shelling caused a fire on June 11 at a chemical plant sheltering hundreds of civilians in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk where fighting has been intense in recent days.
In an interview on Ukrainian television on June 11, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said that the fire started after Russian forces damaged radiators at the Azot plant, causing a leak of tens of tons of oil.
“The Azot chemical plant has been under heavy shelling for hours,” Haidai said, without saying if there were any casualties and if the fire was later extinguished.
Ukrainian officials estimated that up to 800 civilians are hiding in underground bomb shelters at the Azot plant, the largest in Sievierodonetsk.
Rodion Miroshnik, the ambassador to Russia from the self-proclaimed “Luhansk People’s Republic,” claimed that 300 to 400 Ukrainian troops, along with hundreds of civilians, were trapped in the plant under a “blockade”.
Haidai dismissed the claims as “lies,” and reiterated on June 12 that the chemical plant remains under Ukrainian control after he admitted that most of the city was in Russian hands.
Haidai added that fighting was ongoing on the “outskirts of the city, in the streets directly near the plant.”
“Our soldiers are winning in street fights, but, unfortunately, the enemy’s artillery is simply dismantling — floor-by-floor — the houses used by our troops as shelters,” Haidai said.
“So, when we push the enemy out of one street, they start using their tanks and artillery to destroy the area house-by-house,” Haidai further said.
Russian forces have focused their efforts on capturing Sievierodonetsk and its twin city Lysychansk to gain full control over the Luhansk oblast in the larger Donbas region.
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