Ukraine withdraws from Severodonetsk as Russia advances in the east

Placeholder while article actions load

As the war in Ukraine rages on for more than 120 days, Russia has been concentrating its firepower in the east of the country for weeks, specifically on the strategic city of Severodonetsk.

Now the Ukrainian troops will withdraw from there, says Lugansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai, an effective surrender of the besieged city.

“Unfortunately, we will have to withdraw our troops from Severodonetsk, because there is no point in being in broken positions, the death toll is growing,” he said. said in a video posted on Telegram on Friday.

“No one is abandoning our guys, no one is going to let them surround them,” he said. “It makes no sense to just be there, because every day the proportional number of dead in unfortified territories could increase.”

Ukrainian troops “already received the order to withdraw to new positions, to new fortified areas,” he added.

The eastern city, on the Donets River and normally home to some 100,000 people, has become a focal point of Russia’s war in Ukraine. It is one of the last cities to stand in Russia’s way of controlling the Lugansk region and, according to analysts, is one of three cities Russia needs to claim victory in the wider Donbas region after focusing its attention in eastern Ukraine in April.

The city, which has seen heavy fighting, has been largely under Russian control for weeks.

Russian forces have hit Severodonetsk with artillery and engaged in street fighting, inflicting heavy damage as part of a scorched-earth assault in the east, causing significant casualties among Ukrainian forces.

“The Russians have been shelling Severodonetsk almost every day for four months, the city’s infrastructure is completely destroyed,” Haidai said, adding that nearly 90 percent of houses have been damaged or destroyed.

What to know about Severodonetsk, the Ukrainian city that Russia wants to capture

Across the river from Severodonetsk, its sister city Lysychansk is also seeing advancing Russian troops, Haidai said on Friday, as Kremlin forces move to encircle the city west of Severodonetsk. So far, it remains under Ukrainian control, but the terrain makes it “difficult” to defend, Haidai said.

He added that some humanitarian supplies were delivered and some evacuations were carried out, but he chided residents for waiting too long to leave.

However, Ukraine’s loss of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk “will not represent a major turning point in the war,” the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said in its latest analysis on Tuesday. Thursday.

“Ukrainian forces have fundamentally achieved their objective in the battle by slowing down and degrading Russian forces,” he said. “Russian offensive operations are likely to come to a halt in the coming weeks…probably giving Ukrainian forces an opportunity to launch prudent counteroffensives.”

Why Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine is key to Russia’s war

Russia has declared that its main war objective is the conquest of Donbas, the industrial heartland of Ukraine, which encompasses the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Moscow has made consistent and incremental progress there in recent weeks.

President Vladimir Putin recognized the breakaway areas of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent before invading Ukraine in February, and the United States said last month that Moscow was preparing to annex the regions, along with the southern city of Kherson.

Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told Agence France-Presse on Thursday that few “safe” places remain in the region, and urged civilians to evacuate. He added that the Ukrainian forces were mainly focused on holding the main cities of Donetsk, Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

Ukrainians continue to carry out “resistance” operations in Russian-controlled regions of the country, Ukraine’s military said in an update on Friday. Its outgunned troops have held back Russian advances largely with Western-supplied weapons. This week, Washington announced a new $450 million security assistance package, including heavy artillery seen as key to Ukraine’s defense.

Andrew Jeong and Claire Parker contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.