He said a Ukrainian operation to retake the hotel was underway on Friday, but added: "We are not yet in control of the hotel. But we are working to drive out the ruscists."

Read here Donbas: the situation is "very difficult"

Hayday also described heavy shelling around Severodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk as Russian forces pushed from the direction of the towns of Purdivka and Shchedryshchevo, saying it had set the police station in Lysychansk on fire and damaged about 50 buildings in the area.

"Residents of Severodonetsk have already forgotten what it is like when the city is silent for at least half an hour," Hayday said.

"Russians are harassing residential neighborhoods continuously. On May 26, four residents of Severodonetsk were killed by enemy shells in the old districts of the city. Two of them died at the same time near one high-rise building. There is damage to the housing stock; 11 apartment buildings and one private house damaged."