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Ukraine forces to retreat from Severodonetsk

Ukraine forces to retreat from Severodonetsk
KYIV: Ukrainian forces will retreat from Severodonetsk after weeks of fierce fighting over the key city, a senior Ukrainian official said on Friday. This is a major boost to Russia’s goal of seizing a swathe of eastern Ukraine.
The announcement came shortly after the European Union granted Ukraine candidate status in a show of support for the former Soviet republic, although there is still a long path ahead to membership.
Russia has focused its offensive on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine after being repelled from the capital Kyiv and other areas following the February invasion. Its forces have gradually made progress despite encountering fierce resistance and sustaining heavy losses.
The strategically important industrial hub of Severodonetsk has been the scene of weeks of street battles as the outgunned Ukrainians put up a stubborn defence.
But Sergiy Gaiday, the governor of the Lugansk region which includes Severodonetsk, said that Ukrainian military forces in the city had received an order to withdraw.
“Remaining in positions that have been relentlessly shelled for months just doesn’t make sense,” he said on Telegram, adding that 90 per cent of the city had been damaged.
The Ukrainians had already been pushed back from much of the city, leaving them in control of only industrial areas.
Capturing Severodonetsk and its twin city of Lysychansk would give the Russians control of Lugansk, and allow them to push further into the wider Donbas.
Gaiday said the Russians were now advancing on Lysychansk, which has been facing increasingly heavy Russian bombardment.
The situation for those that remain in the city is bleak.
Liliya Nesterenko said her house had no gas, water or electricity and she and her mother were cooking on a campfire. She was cycling along the…
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