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Ukrainian forces must withdraw from Sievierodonetsk to avoid encirclement

Ukrainian forces will withdraw from a besieged town in the east of the country to avoid encirclement, a regional governor said on Friday, after weeks of fierce fighting for control of the town.

Sievierodonetsk, the administrative center of the Luhansk region, has faced relentless Russian bombardment in recent weeks. At one point, Ukrainian troops fought the Russians in house-to-house battles, before retreating to a huge chemical plant on the outskirts of town.

In recent days, Russian forces have made gains around Sievierodonetsk and the nearby town of Lysychansk across the river in an effort to encircle Ukrainian forces.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said Ukrainian troops had been ordered out of Sievierodonetsk to prevent this.

“We’ll have to pull our guys out,” he said. “It makes no sense to stay on destroyed positions, because the number of casualties in poorly fortified areas will increase every day.”

New orders

Haidai said Ukrainian forces had “been ordered to retreat to new positions and continue fighting there”, but he did not give further details.

Meanwhile, he said the Russians were advancing towards Lysychansk from Zolote and Toshkivka, adding that Russian reconnaissance units had made incursions on the outskirts of the town but were driven off by its defenders.

After initial attempts to capture Kyiv at the start of the invasion, Russian forces focused on the Donbass region, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.

The Russian military now controls around 95% of Luhansk province and around half of neighboring Donetsk, the two regions that make up Donbass.

US sends more weapons

At the same time, the United States should send an additional $450 million (427 million euros) in military aid to Ukraine, officials said Thursday, including additional medium-range rocket systems.

The latest package includes four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, which will double the number the Ukrainian military currently has.

All four are in Europe, and training on these systems has already begun with Ukrainian troops who will use them, said Anton Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesman.

The first four HIMARS the United States previously sent have already been on the battlefield in Ukraine and are in the hands of troops there.

According to the Pentagon, the aid also includes 18 tactical vehicles used to tow howitzers, allowing weapons to be moved around the battlefield, as well as 18 coastal and river patrol boats, as well as thousands of machine guns, grenade launchers and cartridges. ammunition and some other equipment and spare parts.

The new aid comes just a week after the United States announced it was sending $1 billion (950 million euros) in military aid to Ukraine.

euronews Gt

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