Sources: Ukrainian army evacuates Severodonetsk 

Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF) units have received orders to evacuate the battleground city of Severodonetsk, a Ukrainian official said on Friday, June 24.

Serhiy Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional defense command, said Ukrainian forces in the city fell back in good order, and will take up defenses in a new line of fortifications in the adjacent town, Lysychansk.

The retreat was necessary to save the lives of UAF troops fighting in Severdonetsk for almost a month, and whose defensive positions there have been badly weakened by almost constant Russian Federation (RF) artillery bombardment, Hadai said, speaking in a News24 television interview. At least 90% of civilian structures in the city are destroyed, he said.

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Yuriy Butusov, a high-profile Ukrainian journalist, filed a June 23 report from Severodonetsk confirming UAF troops were leaving the city deliberately.

Butusov wrote on the censor.net platform: “We left Severodonetsk. Tonight, Ukrainian units deliberately and without panic left part of the industrial zone of Severodonetsk. On the sector of the front where I was, the retreat came under fire, but without losses.”

“It is bitter to depart, but this decision is long overdue. Ukrainian soldiers fought with dignity for the city and did more than possible in such extremely difficult conditions,” Butusov said.

Ukrainian conventional and social media outlets showed images of UAF troops fighting from buildings and rubble in Severodonetsk’s factory district. Ukrainian units most recently defending the city, reportedly, included regular army infantry and artillery, foreign fighters from the International Legion group, and volunteers from the Aidar nationalist group.

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One unconfirmed video made showed images of UAF troops in a Severodonetsk suburb moving by raft across the Siviersky Donets River. RF artillery fire destroyed the last road bridge connecting Lysychansk and Severodonetsk last week, forcing UAF units wanting to cross the river to wade or use small boats, according to news reports.

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Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a Ukraine Defense Ministry spokesman, in a June 24 press briefing said Russian Federation forces have total control of the center of Severodonetsk, and a dominating advantage in artillery. He claimed street fighting was nonetheless still in progress and that Russian Federation (RF) forces were taking heavy casualties as they advanced.

Ukraine’s Army General Staff in a Friday morning situation report confirmed heavy RF pressure in Severodonetsk, but claimed UAF units were holding their positions and that RF forces “have had no success.”

The pro-Russia Readovka news platform claimed that as many as 7,000 UAF troops are trapped in the vicinity of Severodonetsk, and that some members of the Aidar battalion had surrendered to Kremlin forces.

The leadership of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), a statelet in occupied territory, financed and run by the Kremlin in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, claimed in a Friday, June 24 statement that RF forces had scored additional successes south of Severodonetsk, capturing the villages of Hirske and Zolote.

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RF control of the villages has placed UAF forces holding Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in jeopardy, by putting RF artillery within range of roads used by the UAF to move ammunition and fuel, the statement claimed, citing Andrei Marochko, a People’s Militia of the LPR spokesman.

The Kremlin’s Donbas offensive kicked off in mid-April and named Severodonetsk as a key objective. RF ground assaults first hit the city on May 27.

 

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