Ukrainian forces have been ordered to withdraw from the eastern city of Severodonetsk, the scene of bitter fighting with the Russian army, the regional governor announced on Friday. The conquest of Severodonetsk is a crucial step in the Russian plan to conquer the industrial basin of Donbass, already partly held by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
A city “almost reduced to ruins”
“The Ukrainian armed forces will have to withdraw from Severodonetsk. They have received the order”, declared on Telegram Serguiï Gaïdaï, the governor of Lugansk, where this strategic locality is located. “It no longer makes any sense to stay on positions which have been constantly bombarded for months”, he added.
The city was “almost reduced to rubble” by the continuous bombardments, he said. “All essential infrastructure has been destroyed. 90% of the city is damaged, 80% of the houses will have to be destroyed,” he said.
Serguiï Gaïdaï also indicated that the town of Mykolaivka, 25 km south-west of Lyssytchansk, was “lost” and now in the hands of the Russian army. “The occupiers are (also) trying to conquer Guirské”, a small neighboring town of 10,000 inhabitants before the war, he added on Telegram.
A strategic step for Putin
This step therefore allows Vladimir Putin to advance in his plan for the total conquest of Donbass, the main stated objective of the Russian offensive. The balance of power was very unbalanced in Severodnetsk since on several occasions, the city almost fell into the hands of the Russians. kyiv is therefore seeking to preserve its workforce.
Severodonetsk will remain a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, says General Pellistrandi, editor of the journal National Defense. “The loss of Severodonetsk, even if it may constitute a defeat on the military level, does not call into question the Ukrainian defensive strategy. The Ukrainian forces will fall back, it is a tactical withdrawal”, specifies t -he.
“Certainly, the city is abandoned in the hands of the Russians, but for all that, it took them more than a month to advance five kilometers. It is therefore ultimately one of the objectives that the Ukrainians were looking for: to wear down the Russian army in the conquest of the city of Severodonetsk”, he said at the microphone of Europe 1.
There remains the question of the civilians trapped in this city which is 90% destroyed. 568 people are still taking refuge in a large chemical plant in the industrial zone, according to the governor of Luhansk.