Russian forces have fully taken over the Ukrainian Luhansk region after conquering the city of Severodonetsk.
Severodonetsk mayor, Oleksandr Stryuk told Ukrainian TV on Saturday following weeks of heavy Russian shelling that has reduced the city mostly to ruins.
The mayor said that the only way out of the city was through Russian-held territory as many civilians have been sheltering at the vast Azot chemical plant.
“The Russians have fully occupied Severodonetsk, our military has retreated to more prepared positions,” Oleksandr Stryuk told Ukrainian TV.
Pro-Russian rebels allied with the Russian army say they have moved into parts of Lysychansk.
Severodonetsk, which had a population of 100,000 people, has seen bitter street fighting and most of its residents have fled.
Russian troops have also taken more than a half of neighbouring Donetsk – the two regions that form the industrial Donbas.