Ukrainian troops defending Severodonetsk will be withdrawn, while forces in nearby Lysychansk face possible encirclement by Russia, according to the regional governor. Western military analysts previously said that Kyiv appeared to be weighing the loss of the two strategically important cities.
Here are more updates from across the country:
Severodonetsk: Defenders that have endured four months of constant Russian bombardment in this eastern city will have topull out, Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said early Friday. It makes no sense to keep fighters in positions that have been “smashed to pieces,” he said, adding that fatalities are growing.
Haidai said Thursday that Russian forces had destroyed many Ukrainian defensive structures in the industrial area of Severodonetsk, leaving Ukrainian troops holed up there to consider retreating to new positions. Russian forces were also reinforcing their lots around Severodonetsk to completely capture the city, according to the Institute for the Study of War think tank. The mayor of Severodonetsk said up to 8,000 people were remaining in his city.
Lysychansk: Ukrainian forces are facing encirclement from Russian soldiers in the city of Lysychansk, according to Haidai, Reuters reported. “All of Lysychansk is within reach of their fire. It is very dangerous in the city,” he said on national TV, according to Reuters. Russian forces are also upping their grouping in Lysychansk to boost its chances of completely taking it over, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
The Black Sea: Russia is rebutting claims that it planted mines at the ports of Odessa and Ochakiv after newly declassified U.S. intelligence released information saying otherwise, the Guardian reported. A U.S. official told the news outlet that there is also indication that Russia previously mined the Dnieper River, the fourth longest river in Europe.