Ukrainian forces were ordered to withdraw from Severodonetsk, in the east of the country, the scene of fighting with the Russian army, the regional governor announced this Friday.
The seizure of Severodonetsk is a crucial step in Russia’s plan to conquer the Donbass industrial basin, part of which has been in the hands of pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
“Ukrainian armed forces will have to withdraw from Severodonetsk. They have received the order,” Lugansk governor Sergei Gaidai said on the Telegram messaging platform.
“It no longer makes sense to maintain positions that have been constantly bombed in recent months,” he added.
The city is “almost reduced to ashes” and “all essential infrastructure has been destroyed”, he said.
The Ukrainian official considered that “90% of the city is damaged and 80% of the houses will have to be demolished”.
The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine has already killed 4,662 civilians, according to UN data, which stresses that the real numbers could be much higher.
The conflict also led to the flight of more than 15 million people from their homes, 7.7 million of them to neighboring countries.
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