President Volodymyr Zelensky said this in a nightly video address, Ukrinform reports.
"Capturing Sievierodonetsk is a fundamental task for the occupying contingent. And they don't care how many lives they will have to pay for this attempt to raise the Russian flag at 32 Druzhby Narodiv [Peoples' Friendship] Boulevard - no matter how bitter the name sounds now - where the Sievierodonetsk administration is located," he said.
He added that Sievierodonetsk was supposed to celebrate its city day on Sunday in the same way as Kyiv, but Russia came too close to it.
"It [Russia] gathered too many forces in our Donbas. It was too prepared for the offensive there. I consider it very symbolic that the Russian military began the attempt to capture Sievierodonetsk by entering a hotel called 'Myr' [Peace]. Peace is indeed Russia's first target," Zelensky said.
He stressed that the invaders, having taken peace from Ukraine in 2014, want to take everything else, literally everything. According to him, the Russians want to leave Ukrainians neither freedom, nor houses, nor life.
He also stressed that as a result of Russian strikes at Sievierodonetsk, the entire critical infrastructure of the city has already been destroyed. According to him, 90% of houses are damaged, more than two-thirds of the city's housing stock has been completely destroyed, there is no mobile connection and constant shelling is ongoing.
"We are doing everything to repel this offensive. There was not a day that we did not try to find more weapons, more modern weapons to defend our land, to defend our people. And I am grateful to everyone who defends Sievierodonetsk and demonstrates to the occupiers that peace will still be ours. In all our state, in all Donbas and of course - in Sievierodonetsk," Zelensky stressed.