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Erased from the earth: Severodonetsk under Russian occupation

Erased from the earth: Severodonetsk under Russian occupation

Severodonetsk became one of the bloodiest spots in hostilities in the Luhansk region at the beginning of this summer. Russian forces almost ruined the city and after that occupied it, making thousands of civilians look for a new home. Before the Russian full-scale aggression Severodonetsk was a prosperous city with everything you need for normal life, now it is deprived of life. Here are some facts about Severodonetsk before and after Russian forces invaded Ukraine:

Severodonetsk is a more than 60-years-old industrial city in Luhansk region. Located opposite one of the oldest cities of Donbas — Lysychansk — Severodonetsk was at first a small settlement where workers who built the Azot chemical plant were living. 

Later it grew up into a city, which is considered now the center of the chemical industry in Ukraine. Its name is derived from the Siverskyi Donets River that separates two cities — Lysychansk and Severodonetsk. 

During its existence, Severodonetsk was always a calm and peaceful city until 2014, when Russia and Russian-backed militants started the war in Donbas. From the beginning of May till July 22, 2014, Severodonetsk was temporarily occupied by Russia-backed forces. After liberation, it became the central city of the region instead of Luhansk.

Over the past 8 years, Severodonetsk has been developing: cultural institutions and businesses from Luhansk have moved to the city, and more and more people from the temporarily occupied territories have come to Severodonetsk to start their life from scratch. 

In 2022, when Russia started a full-scale war, Severodonetsk became a hot spot again. In June, Russia captured the city and almost ruined it. The Azot chemical plant, which served as a bomb shelter for hundreds of civilians, repeated the fate of Mariupol’s Azovstal and was destroyed by the Russians.

Severodonetsk  and Lysychansk were key cities for Russian invaders, as they connected this part of Donbas with other regions of Ukraine. More than 90% of houses in Severodonetsk are now damaged or destroyed by Russia. Not more than 8,000 people remain in the city out of the 100,000 before the war, according to the Luhansk Region Military Administration.

Today in Severodonetsk the streets are empty, corpses still lie on roads, houses are damaged, and people have no water and electricity, and can take a shower only according to the schedule in the communal shower cabins on the streets. Local lakes are drying up. The undamaged apartments have been looted, and there is no one to restore the ruined ones.

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