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HomeEconomyBlow in Severodnetsk? Ukraine's army will retreat if Russia advances MPNRC
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Blow in Severodnetsk? Ukraine’s army will retreat if Russia advances MPNRC

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A senior Ukrainian official said Friday that Ukraine’s military will withdraw from Severodnetsk to face a brutal Russian attack that is turning the battlefield into rubble.

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The news came soon after the EU made a strong show of support for Ukraine, granted candidate status to the former Soviet republic, although membership is still a long way off.

Capturing Severodonetsk in the Donbass region has become a major target for the Russians as they focus their offensive on eastern Ukraine after being driven out of Kyiv following their February offensive.

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The strategically important industrial center has been the scene of weeks of street fighting as outgoing Ukrainians put up a fierce defence.

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But Sergei Gede, the governor of Lugansk, which includes the city – said the Ukrainian army would have to retreat.

“They’ve got orders to do so,” he said on Telegram.

“It doesn’t make any sense to stay in positions that have been going on for months.”

He said the city was “almost turned to rubble” by the incessant bombings.

“All critical infrastructure has been destroyed. Ninety per cent of the city has been damaged, 80 per cent (houses) will have to be demolished,” he said.

Ukrainians had already been pushed back from much of the city, leaving them only control of the industrial areas.

The capture of Severodonetsk and its twin city Lisichansk would give the Russians control of Lugansk, and would allow them to advance into the wider Donbass.

Lysychansk under fire

Gede said the Russians were now advancing on Lisichansk, which is increasingly facing heavy Russian bombardment.

AFP journalists who went out of town twice on Thursday had to jump out of cars and lay on the ground as Russian forces shelled the city’s main supply road.

He saw black smoke rising on the road ahead, and heard the sound of artillery fire and saw flashes of light, while the trees were downed on the road.

The condition of the people living in the city is getting worse.

Lilia Nesterenko said that there is no gas, water or electricity in their house and that she and her mother were cooking at the campfire. She was cycling on the road, and went out to feed a friend’s pet.

But the 39-year-old was upbeat about the city’s security: “I believe in our Ukrainian military, should they (should be able to) cope).

“He’s already prepared.”

A representative of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine had earlier told AFP that resistance from Ukrainian forces trying to defend Lisichansk and Severodonetsk was “futile and futile”.

“At the rate at which our troops are leaving, very soon the entire area of ​​the Lugansk People’s Republic will be liberated,” said Andrei Marochko, a spokesman for Lugansk’s Moscow-backed army. Requesting an accelerated weapons delivery with Ukraine, the United States announced that it was sending another $450 million in new weapons, including the Hymer rocket system.

The systems can simultaneously launch multiple precision missiles over an extended range.

‘Historic’ EU decision

At the Brussels summit on Thursday, EU leaders gave candidate status to Ukraine, as well as Moldova.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky described the news as “a unique and historic moment”, adding: “The future of Ukraine lies within the European Union.” French President Emmanuel Macron said the decision by EU leaders sent a “very strong signal” to Russia that Europeans support Ukraine’s pro-Western aspirations.

President Vladimir Putin declared Ukraine part of Moscow’s territory and insisted he was acting because of efforts to bring the country into NATO, the Western coalition that comes with security guarantees.

European powers had distanced themselves from US support for Ukraine’s NATO aspirations prior to the invasion, and EU membership is at least years away.

Ukraine and Moldova will have to go through lengthy talks and the European Union has taken steps that Kyiv will have to take before that, including strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption.

Western officials have also accused Russia of weaponizing its major exports of grain as well as gas from Ukraine, contributing to global inflation and rising world hunger.

A US official warned of fresh retaliation against Russia at the Group of Seven summit in Germany to be attended by President Joe Biden starting Sunday.

Germany raised an emergency gas plan to its second alert level, just one short of the maximum required for rationing in Europe’s biggest economy, after Russia cut supplies.

“Gas is now a rarity,” German Economy Minister Robert Hebeck told reporters, urging households to cut use.

There is less demand for gas in summer, but shortages can cause heating problems in winter.

A Kremlin spokesman reiterated his claim that the supply cuts were due to maintenance and that essential equipment had not arrived from overseas.

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