Severodonetsk could fall to Russia as Ukraine mulls troop withdrawal
- Ukrainian forces could withdraw from Severodonetsk to avoid getting encircled
- The city has been nearly levelled after a month of shelling
- Severodonetsk is one of the last Ukrainian bastions in Luhansk
According to Reuters, Severodonetsk has since become a major battleground, and has seen some of the heaviest fighting take place on its streets since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.
Although Ukrainian forces had held out for weeks against incessant Russian shelling, the city has lost its strategic value, having been almost levelled to the ground.
"Remaining in positions smashed to pieces over many months just for the sake of staying there does not make sense," Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said in televised comments on Friday, referring to the situation in Severodonetsk.
However, Haidai did not provide any details about whether Ukrainian troops would be withdrawn from the city immediately, or whether a timed, gradual withdrawal would take place.
Haidai's update on the fighting in eastern Ukraine comes a day after Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk region military administration, told media that Russia had captured 55% of cities in that region, establishing a foothold for the rest of their Donbas campaign.
Since invading Ukraine in February, Russia had made quick advances and encircled several major cities, including the capital Kyiv, but were subsequently repelled, courtesy of stiff Ukrainian resistance.
Russia then switched its focus to the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, where two Moscow-backed republics have declared independence, but has been unable to capture the eastern territory despite its superior military might on paper.