KYIV, Ukraine ( Associated Press) — After weeks of fierce fightingA regional official said on Friday that Ukrainian forces had begun to withdraw from the besieged city in the country’s east to get into a stronger position.
The planned withdrawal from Svyarodonetsk, the administrative center of the Luhansk region, comes after relentless Russian bombings that have reduced most of the industrial city to rubble and reduced its population to less than 100,000. up to 10,000. Ukrainian troops fought the Russians in house-to-house battles before retreating to the huge Azot chemical factory on the edge of the city, where they were hiding in its massive underground structure that also sheltered some 500 civilians.
In recent times, the Russian army has made profits In an attempt to encircle the Ukrainian army, around Svyarodonetsk and the neighboring city of Lisichansk, on a steep bank of a river.
Svierodonetsk and Lisichansk – the most capable and battle-hardened sections of the country’s armed forces – have all been the focus of Russian offensives aimed at capturing the Donbass and destroying Ukrainian forces. The two cities and the surrounding area are the last major areas of Ukrainian resistance in the Luhansk region – 95% of which is under the control of Russian and local separatist forces. Russia and separatists control about half of the Donetsk region, which is the second province of the Donbass.
Russia used its numerical advantages in troops and weapons to crush Svyarodonetsk, which had turned into a war of war, while Ukraine struggled for better and more weapons than its Western allies. Bridges in the city were destroyed, slowing the Ukrainian army’s ability to resupply, reinforce and evacuate the wounded and others. Much of the city’s electricity, water and communication infrastructure has been destroyed.
Luhansk Governor Serhi Haidai said Ukrainian troops had been ordered to leave Svyarodonetsk to prevent major losses and move to better fortified positions. The head of the regional administration, Roman Vlasenko, said the withdrawal had begun and would take several days.
“As of now, the Ukrainian army still remains in Svyarodonetsk,” Vlasenko told Nation World News. “They are being taken back from the city at the moment. It started yesterday.”
Ukraine’s military spokesman declined to confirm the order to withdraw, saying the government’s policy prohibits comments on Ukrainian military activities.
“Sadly, we have to pull our troops out of Svierodonetsk,” Haidai told the Associated Press. “There is no point in staying in the destroyed positions, and the number of people killed in action is increasing.”
A senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, in Washington on Friday called the Ukrainian move “strategic regressive” to strengthen forces in situations where they can better defend themselves. The official said this would add to Ukraine’s effort to keep Russian forces in a smaller area longer.
Haidai noted that while the retreat continues, some Ukrainian soldiers remain in Svyarodonetsk, facing Russian bombardment, which destroyed 80% of the buildings.
“To this day, resistance continues in Svyarodonetsk,” Haidai told the Associated Press. “The Russians are constantly shelling Ukrainian positions, burning everything.”
Haidai said that the Russians were also moving from Zolot and Toshkivka towards Lisichansk – adding that Russian reconnaissance units invaded the city’s edges but were driven out by its defenders. The governor said a bridge leading to Lisichansk was badly damaged in Russian air raids and is unusable for trucks. Ukraine’s military analyst Oleg Zhdanov told the Associated Press that some soldiers moving away from Svyarodonetsk are heading towards fighting in Lisichansk.
In other battlefield reports, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Friday that four Ukrainian battalions and a unit of “foreign mercenaries”, a total of about 2,000 troops, were “completely blocked off” near Hirske and Zolot, south of Lisichensk. has given. The claim could not be independently verified.
After an unsuccessful attempt to capture Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, in the early stages of the invasion Beginning on February 24, the Russian military has shifted its focus to the Donbass, where Ukrainian forces have fought Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.
After repeated requests to its Western allies for heavy weapons to counter Russia’s firepower, four medium-range American rocket launchers Have come with four more on the way. More Ukrainian forces outside Ukraine are training to use the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMAR, and are expected to return to their homeland with weapons by mid-July, a senior US defense official said Friday. .
Rockets can travel about 45 miles (70 kilometers). Also 18 US coastal and river patrol boats are to be sent. The official said there was no evidence that Russia was successful in stopping the continued flow of military aid from the US and other countries to Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly threatened to strike, or indeed claim to have hit such shipments.
In other developments:
On the day Ukraine was approved as a candidate to join the European Union, Zelensky urged Ukrainians not to focus on all that they still did before the country was accepted into the European Union. But to quietly celebrate this moment and take pride in how far Ukraine is already moving away from its Soviet past.
“Don’t be glad it’s a slap to Moscow, but be proud it’s an applause for Ukraine,” he said in his video address of the night. “Let it inspire you. We deserve it. Please smile and God bless us all with a quiet night. Then tomorrow, again in battle. With new strength, with new wings.”
Zelensky urged music lovers to “spread the truth about Russia’s war” at the Glastonbury Festival. Speaking to the crowd at the British music festival by video on Friday before a set of The Libertines, Zelensky said, “We would also love to live life in Ukraine as we used to and enjoy the freedom and this wonderful summer, But we can’t do that because the most terrible thing has happened – Russia stole our peace.”
An official of the pro-Moscow administration in the southern city of Kherson, who was captured by Russian troops early in the offensive, was killed in an explosion on Friday. The pro-Russian regional administration in Kherson said Dmitry Savelyuchenko died when his vehicle exploded in what they described as a “terrorist attack”. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Yuras Karmanau reported from Lviv.
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