Amid escalating Russian advances, Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk have been asked to retreat from the key city in the eastern Luhansk region where fierce battles are currently raging, a top leader said on Friday.
For several weeks now, Russian forces have nearly encircled Severodonetsk and its twin city Lysychansk.Capturing the two cities would give Moscow control of the entire Luhansk region, much of which is already controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
They are the last remaining Ukrainian positions in Luhansk.Speaking to local media on Friday, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said: "Remaining in positions that have been relentlessly shelled for months just doesn't make sense.
"They have received orders to retreat to new positions... and from there continue their operations.""There is no point in staying in positions which have been destroyed over several months just for the sake of staying," the BBC quoted the Governor as further saying.
According to Haidai, Severodonetsk's entire infrastructure has been completely destroyed, with over 90 per cent of houses shelled and 80 per cent of them critically damaged.The Governor's remarks came as President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of trying to "destroy" the Donbas region, which comprises Luhansk and Donetsk.
"There were massive air and artillery strikes in Donbas. The occupier's goal here is unchanged, they want to destroy the entire Donbas step-by-step," Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Wednesday.He also repeated his calls for Western leaders to speed up the delivery of heavy artillery to his troops, reports the BBC.
"We again and again emphasise the acceleration of arms deliveries to Ukraine. What is quickly needed is parity on the battlefield in order to halt this diabolical armada and push it beyond Ukraine's borders."