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Black smoke and dirt rise above the city of Severodonetsk during the battle between Russian and Ukrainian troops in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine on June 9. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Intense fighting continues for control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, with no major changes reported over the past day, according to Ukrainian officials.

“The situation in Severodonetsk is very tense,” Roman Vlasenko, head of the Severodonetsk district military administration, told Ukrainian state television.

“The fighting continues, the street fighting continues. The dynamic is very great. The Russians make massive use of artillery. They have a certain advantage in terms of artillery, in terms of personnel. But they are not really successful. They can’t beat the guys from Severodonetsk.

Vlasenko said the Ukrainian military in Severodonetsk was “confident” in its defence.

On Wednesday, Luhansk regional military administration chief Serhiy Hayday said most of the city was now controlled by Russian forces, although the Ukrainians retained control of the Severodonetsk industrial zone.

Hayday told Ukrainian television on Friday that those fighting for Severodonetsk were facing difficulties, “but they clearly understand that they are not threatened with encirclement.

“They stand their ground clearly and understand how things are going,” he said.

In an address Thursday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that “Severodonetsk, Lysychansk and other cities in Donbass, which the occupiers now see as key targets, are holding their own.”

Christi C. Elwood