Serhiy Haiday, head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said 80% of the territory of his region is under Russian control. If Ukraine does not resist, the official said, “Russia will certainly not stop here and will continue to move forward.”
Speaking to CNN’s Becky Anderson from an undisclosed location, Heidi agreed with the Russian characterization that the second phase of the war had begun, but cautioned that it was not yet a “complete and total conquest.”
“They (the Russians) are certainly spread out a lot. We have set up our defenses in a lot of towns. They are trying to encircle our forces, a lot of bad business is going on there…But they haven’t had any successes so far. We are doing well to destroy their equipment,” he said.
Heyday added: “We have a very dangerous situation here. The entire Luhansk region is being bombed. No city is safe… We understand that the Russian government will go ahead and destroy everything in its path. So what we are doing is trying to evacuate everyone as much as possible.”
The official appealed to the remaining civilians to leave the eastern region of Ukraine as the fighting intensified. He said that of the 350 thousand people who lived in the Ukrainian Luhansk Territory before the war, about 70 thousand remain today.
“Most people left in their own transport or using our national buses or our volunteers. We have no idea when the humanitarian corridors will be established, but we evacuate every day. The point is that Russia is always violating the agreements. The bombing continues despite the quiet hours,” he added. .
Heidi went on to say that the bombing is taking place “non-stop” in the area, destroying the electricity network and all water supplies. For the remaining 70,000 people, most live in bunkers, basements and shelters.
He said, “This is basically the second month that all of these people are living underground. We try to provide them with some kind of help, we try to provide them with sanitation and water and make sure they don’t do that. They starve to death … There is hardly any stable gas supply, So the situation is very desperate.”
When asked to compare the situation in Luhansk to the besieged city of Mariupol – which has been facing a similar fate for weeks – Hedayi said, “For us, at least we can get help and we can still actually evacuate people. But the bombing continues every day until nightfall and so it’s very similar. Mariupol in this regard.
The military ruler appealed to the West to provide more military equipment to help them defend the skies and land of Ukraine.
“We need planes, air defense equipment, a lot of UAVs from the United States, long-range artillery and heavy precision fire,” he said. “I think recent events have shown that the Russian military, which has received so much praise, is not really ready to scratch.” It’s not what we thought, so I think it’s possible for the Ukrainian armed forces, provided they get that kind of equipment, to actually defeat them.”
When asked how he sees the war ending, Heidi told CNN there would likely be a cessation of hostilities through a political agreement, but added that he felt it was difficult to trust the Russians.
He said: “They lie all the time. Everyone knows it. Nobody believes them. Everyone knows that the agreement with Russia is not worth the paper it is printed on. Russia is the enemy of the whole world today and not just Ukraine. Their ambitions extended far beyond Ukraine.
“Amateur organizer. Wannabe beer evangelist. General web fan. Certified internet ninja. Avid reader.”