Ukraine orders its troops to withdraw from Severodonetsk
Russia could be a little closer to gaining control of the coveted Donbas, the industrial region of eastern Ukraine where its war offensive is concentrated.
After several months of incessant shelling and weeks of hand-to-hand fighting in the streets of Severodonetsk, the penultimate Ukrainian-held city in Lugansk province, Kiev seems to consider it lost. Ukrainian authorities have ordered their troops to withdraw from the city in the face of the Russian military advance in the area.
“The Armed Forces will leave Severodonetsk. Our defenders have already received the order,” said Lugansk governor Serhiy Haidai, who noted that Russian forces “have almost destroyed” the town, Ukrinform Ukrainian news agency reported. Haidai stressed that the defense of this enclave along the Siversky Donetsk river, where about 100,000 Ukrainians lived before the beginning of the war, has become meaningless. The town is now severely battered. Ninety percent of the town has been damaged and about “80% of the residential buildings will have to be demolished,” the governor stressed, a picture that puts Severodonetsk almost on a par with Mariupol, the symbol par excellence of the indiscriminate brutality of the Kremlin’s offensive.
The fall of Severodonetsk could allow Russia to concentrate its forces on seizing neighboring Lysychansk, the last town in the province under Ukrainian control, increasingly susceptible to being strangled in a pincer maneuver. Adjacent towns are also progressively changing hands. The Russian Defense Ministry said Friday that its troops have captured a dozen villages and towns in the province in the past five days, while cornering some 2,000 Ukrainian troops.