By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
The news confirmed Kyiv’s most significant battlefield setback for more than a month, following weeks of some of the war’s bloodiest fighting that killed many.
Ukraine called its retreat from the city a “tactical withdrawal” to fight from higher ground in Lysychansk on the opposite bank of the Siverskyi Donets river.
Pro-Russian separatists said Moscow’s forces were now attacking Lysychansk.
The fall of Sievierodonetsk — once home to more than 100,000 people but now a wasteland — was Russia’s biggest victory since capturing the port of Mariupol last month. It transformed the battlefield in the east after weeks in which Moscow’s massive advantage in firepower had yielded only slow gains.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed in a video address that Ukraine would win back the cities it lost, including Severodonetsk. But acknowledging the war’s emotional toll, he said: “We don’t have a sense of how long it will last, how many more blows, losses, and efforts will be needed before we see victory is on the horizon.”
“The city is now under the full occupation of Russia,” Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk explained on national television. “They are trying to establish their own order; as far as I know, they have appointed some kind of commandant.”
The struggles added to the suffering of residents in Severodonetsk, including hundreds of civilians taking shelter at the Azot chemical plant who reportedly rejected pleas to leave. Serhiy Hayday, a top Ukrainian military commander in east Ukraine, said Russian forces were still shelling the plant.
Severodonetsk was one of the last major Ukrainian strongholds in the area. Hayday said the military decided to evacuate “because the number of dead in unfortified territories may grow every day.”
Several other towns had already surrendered in the area as Russia attempts to conquer the entire eastern Donbas region, Ukraine’s industrial heartland.
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