LONDON — A military official in the Russian-backed separatist region of Donetsk issued a stark warning to the remaining Ukrainian fighters in the besieged city of Severodonetsk: “Surrender or die.”
Eduard Basurin, the deputy leader of the Donetsk People's Republic, or the People’s Militia, told reporters on Monday that the remaining soldiers were now trapped after the last bridge entering the city was destroyed.
“Severodonetsk is actually blocked after they blew up the last bridge that connected it with Lysychansk yesterday,” Basurin said, according to the Associated Press. “Therefore, the Ukrainian military units that are stationed there remain there forever.” He added, “They have two options: either follow the example of their colleagues and surrender, or die. They have no other option.”
On Tuesday, Kyiv said that its forces were still holding out in Severodonetsk and that soldiers were trying to evacuate civilians holed up in the city. Officials have said that more than 500 people are trapped inside Azot, a chemical plant in the city.
The head of Russia’s National Defense Management Center gave soldiers seeking shelter in the chemical plant a chance to surrender until Wednesday morning. According to Interfax, an independent Russian media outlet, Col.-Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said that Ukrainian soldiers should “stop their senseless resistance and lay down their arms.” Any civilians would be allowed leave through a “humanitarian corridor,” he added.
According to Reuters, Oleksandr Stryuk, the mayor of Severodonetsk, said that there still remains “communication with the city,” even though bridges to the city have been destroyed. "Russian troops are trying to storm the city, but the military is holding firm,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with Western countries to send more long-range weapons so that Ukraine's military can help defend Severodonetsk. Speaking to Danish journalists, Zelensky said: “We have enough weapons. What we don't have enough of are the weapons that really hits the range that we need to reduce the advantage of the Russian Federation's equipment.” Ukraine has requested 1,000 drones, 500 tanks and 1,000 long-range howitzers, among other heavy weaponry.