April 19 (UPI) — Ukrainian military forces have lost control of the city of Kreminna as Russia moves forward with its offensive in the country’s eastern Donbas region, Ukrainian officials confirmed Tuesday.
“Kreminna is under the control of the ‘Orcs’ [Russians]. They have entered the city,” Luhansk region governor Serhiy Gaidai said during a press briefing on Tuesday.
“Our defenders had to withdraw. They have entrenched themselves in new positions and continue to fight the Russian army.”
Gaidai said evacuating people from Kreminna is impossible, but that officials were continuing to help people from other settlements to escape, the Kyiv Independent reported.
The outlet reported that 70,000 civilians remain in Luhansk Oblast.
The capture of Kreminna brings Russian forces a step closer to the much larger city of Kramatorsk.
“We are doing everything to ensure defense. We are in constant contact with partners. We are grateful to those who really help with everything they can, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said during his nightly address, which was posted on his official Telegraph account.
“But those who have the weapons and ammunition we need and delay their provision must know that the fate of this battle also depends on them. The fate of people who can be saved,” he said.
The Donbas region, which consists of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, is in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border.
Earlier Tuesday, Russian forces called on Ukrainian troops to give up their remaining positions in the City of Mariupol in southern Ukraine, where a steel plant was under attack.
Zelensky said Monday that Russia’s highly anticipated attack on the region had begun.
“Now we can say that Russian troops have started the battle for Donbas they have long been preparing for,” Zelensky said in a video address.
The Ukrainian military said new troop build-ups continue in occupied Crimea and elsewhere, as Russia makes a new push in the Donbas region.