Ukraine withdraws its troops from the strategic enclave of Severodonetsk

Ukrainian troops were ordered by the head of the Lugansk Military Administration to withdraw from Severodonetsk. This strategic city was the last of great importance in the region that was still partially under Ukrainian control. With this withdrawal, the Russian forces gain even more ground to fully control the Donbass area.

After four months of intense fighting, Ukraine ordered this Friday, June 24, the withdrawal of its troops from the strategic enclave of Severodonetsk, the administrative center of the Lugansk region, due to “incessant shelling” by Russian troops.

This city is considered a key point for the control of the entire region which, together with the neighboring province of Donetsk, make up the Donbass area, where pro-Russian guerrillas operate. The Russian Army controls about 95% of Lugansk and about half of Donetsk.

The head of the Military Administration of the eastern Lugansk region, Serhiy Haidai, announced this Friday, the day that marks the four months of the war, that “unfortunately” the Ukrainian armed forces will have to withdraw and that they have received the order to do so. .

“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,” Haidai said through his Telegram account.

The regional official reported that in the besieged city “the infrastructure was completely destroyed, 90% of the houses were damaged or destroyed.” He also specified that the Russian forces are advancing from the towns of Zolotyi and Toshkivka towards Lysychansk, very close to Severodonetsk, which seems to be the new objective for the Russian Army.

Therefore, according to Haidai, it was decided that “the defenders of Severodonetsk should withdraw to new positions, to new fortified areas, from there to fight normally and fully and inflict damage on the enemy.”

Severodonetsk is the last major city in the Luhansk region that was still under the control of Ukrainian troops, but with the Kremlin-ordered offensive in recent weeks, control over all of Donbass in eastern Ukraine is about to come to an end. under Russian control.

This situation will allow Russia to establish a corridor with the southern regions that it already controls and, in particular, with the Crimean peninsula, which it has occupied since 2014.

After a failed attempt to capture kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, in the initial stage of the invasion that began on February 24, Russian forces have shifted their focus to the Donbass region, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting separatists. backed by Moscow.

Russia responds and advances in Lugansk

For its part, the Kremlin assured this Friday that in the last five days it has taken control of ten towns in the Lugansk region and only Lysychansk, the sister city of Severodonetsk, resists.

“As a result of the successful offensive operations of a group of Russian troops in the direction of Lugansk, the settlements of Loskutovka, Pidlisne, Myrna Dolyna, Shchebkarier, Vrubivka, Nyrkove, Mykolayivka, Novoivanovka, Ustynivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka were liberated within five days” , said the military spokesman, Igor Konashénkov.

Konsahénkov also indicated that “a group of Ukrainian troops has been completely blocked in the area of ​​the Hirske and Zolote settlements.” The spokesman said that four Ukrainian battalions are surrounded in Hirske’s siege, so that in total “up to 2,000 people have been blocked, including 80 mercenaries.”

Russian forces face ‘leadership problems’

Experts from the American think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) explain that although Russian forces are making substantial progress in the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area, they have fundamentally achieved their objective in the battle by slowing down and wear down the Russian forces.

Analysts say Russian forces are taking heavy casualties and are facing leadership, supply and morale problems.

“The Ukrainian authorities are establishing the conditions to prepare for the final loss of both Severodonetsk and Lysychansk,” the ISW said, for which this circumstance “will not represent a major turning point in the war.”

Ukrainian soldiers on a tank in the eastern Luhansk region on June 23, 2022, amid Russia's launched military invasion of Ukraine.  On the road between the cities of Siversk and Bakhmut, the main route used to reach the city of Lysychansk.
Ukrainian soldiers on a tank in the eastern Luhansk region on June 23, 2022, amid Russia’s launched military invasion of Ukraine. On the road between the cities of Siversk and Bakhmut, the main route used to reach the city of Lysychansk. © Anatolii Stepanov / AFP

According to the think tank, “Ukrainian troops have for weeks managed to attract substantial amounts of Russian personnel, weapons and equipment to the area and have likely degraded the overall capabilities of Russian forces, while preventing them from concentrating on wider axes of advance.” advantageous”.

This Friday, June 24, marks four months since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent tens of thousands of troops across the border, unleashing a conflict that has left thousands of combatants and civilians dead, and caused a migration of millions of people. , in addition to cities destroyed by Russian artillery and air strikes. The war has also fueled a global food and energy crisis.

With Reuters, AP and EFE

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