Ukraine orders forces to withdraw from key eastern city

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Ukrainian forces have been ordered to withdraw from Severodonetsk, according to the top regional official.

The eastern city has endured weeks of bombardment, as Russian forces try to take complete control of the region.

A Ukrainian retreat would be significant because it would leave all of Luhansk under Russian control, except for the city of Lysychansk.

Luhansk, a mainly Russian-speaking region in east Ukraine, is a key priority for President Vladimir Putin.

Together with the Donetsk region it makes up what is collectively known as the Donbas – a large, industrial area which has been the focus of a Russian-backed separatist movement since 2014.

Vladimir Putin falsely claims that Russian speakers in the Donbas have been victims of genocide – a key justification for his invasion of Ukraine.

In turn, Ukraine accuses Moscow of committing genocide against the Ukrainian people with the indiscriminate bombing and shelling.

Russian forces have nearly encircled Severodonetsk in recent days, and are also targeting its twin city Lysychansk.

“Remaining in positions that have been relentlessly shelled for months just doesn’t make sense,” Luhansk regional head Serhiy Haidai told Ukrainian television.

 

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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