KYIV, Ukraine: After weeks of the brutal battle for control of the crucial city, Ukrainian soldiers will withdraw, a top Ukrainian official announced on Friday, giving Russia’s attempt to annex much of eastern Ukraine a huge boost.
While there is still a long road to membership, the declaration came soon after the European Union gave Ukraine candidate status as a statement of support for the former Soviet country.
After being driven from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and other places during the February invasion, Russia has concentrated its effort on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Despite facing strong opposition and suffering significant losses, its soldiers have progressively advanced.
Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a spokesman for the Ukrainian defense ministry, told reporters on Friday that “despite the mounting loss of soldiers and equipment, Russians remain to exceed the (Ukrainian) defensive forces in artillery” in some locations.
This enables them to achieve some tactical success, continued Motuzyanyk. Weeks of street fighting have taken place in Severodonetsk, a strategically significant industrial hub, while the outgunned Ukrainians maintain a resolute defense.
However, Sergiy Gameday, the head of the Lugansk region, which contains Severodonetsk, said that the city’s Ukrainian military personnel had been given the go-ahead to leave.
Adding that 90% of the city had been devastated, he added on Telegram, “Remaining in places that have been continuously bombarded for months just doesn’t make sense.”
The Ukrainians now only controlled the city’s industrial sections after being forced out of much of the city.
Roman Vlasenko, commander of Severodonetsk’s military administration, said on Radio Svoboda, the Russian-language branch of US-funded Radio Free Europe located in Prague, “The Ukrainian army is still in Severodonetsk, it will take them some time to depart.”
The Russians might capture Lugansk and expand their influence into the larger Donbas by seizing Severodonetsk and its twin city, Lysychansk. In the meantime, the Kremlin said on Friday that it was an “internal” affair for the European Union to admit Moldova and Ukraine, where Russia is waging military war.
“These are European domestic issues. It is crucial for us that none of these procedures add to our difficulties or worsen the relations between these nations and us “Reporters were informed by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. It would be “extremely difficult to ruin them more,” he remarked in reference to Moscow’s relations with the EU.