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Ukrainian forces can "surrender or die" in key industrial city, pro-Russian separatists say

Ukraine said Monday its forces had been pushed back from the center of the key industrial city of Severodonetsk, where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described a fight for "literally every meter." The cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which are separated by a river, have been targeted for weeks as the last areas still under Ukrainian control in the eastern Luhansk region.

Regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said Monday Russian forces were "gathering more and more equipment" to "encircle" Severodonetsk.

Moscow's troops had "pushed our units from the center and continue to destroy our city," he said.

The local Azot chemical plant, where hundreds of civilians have reportedly taken refuge, was being "heavily shelled," Gaiday added.

Severodonetsk has been "de facto" blocked off after Russian forces blew up the "last" bridge connecting it to Lysychansk on Sunday, Eduard Basurin, a representative for pro-Russian separatists, said Monday.

Ukrainian forces in the area have two choices, he said, "to surrender or die."

Moscow-backed forces were also carrying out an offensive on the key city of Slovyansk, from "west, north and east," Basurin sa