Ukrainian soldiers may have to evacuate from their last pocket in the Luhansk region to prevent being seized, according to a Ukrainian official, as Russian troops pursue an eastward assault that has shifted the war’s momentum.

A retreat might bring Russian President Vladimir Putin closer to completing his aim of conquering the whole Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine. His forces have gained ground in the two areas that make up the Donbas, while razing some towns to the ground.

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk, said Russian troops had penetrated Sievierodonetsk, the largest Donbas city still held by Ukraine, after days of attempting to trap Ukrainian forces there. According to Gaidai, 90 percent of the town’s structures were damaged.

“The Russians will not be able to seize the Luhansk region in the coming days, as analysts have expected,” Gaidai stated on Telegram, referring to the area across the Siverskiy Donets River that includes Sievierodonetsk and its twin city Lysychansk.

“We shall be able to defend ourselves with sufficient strength and resources.” However, it’s probable that we’ll have to retreat if we don’t want to be surrounded.”
Lyman, a railway hub west of Sievierodonetsk, was claimed to be under the control of Russia’s separatist proxies. Russia had taken most of Lyman, Ukraine reported, but its forces were preventing a push to Sloviansk, to the southwest.

Ukraine’s land is being protected “as much as our current defense resources allow,” according to President Volodymyr Zelensky. On Friday, the Ukrainian military said it withstood eight attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk, destroying tanks and armored vehicles.

“The occupants are mistaken if they believe Lyman and Sievierodonetsk will be theirs. In a speech, Zelensky stated, “Donbas will be Ukrainian.”
While Russian forces have began frontal attacks on built-up sections of Sievierodonetsk, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington say they will struggle to gain territory in the city itself.

“Throughout the war, Russian soldiers have done poorly in operations in built-up urban terrain,” they stated.
After piercing Ukrainian defenses last week in Popasna, south of Sievierodonetsk, Russian troops advanced. According to the British defense ministry, Russian ground forces have taken control of numerous settlements northwest of Popasna.

For the first time in days, Russian forces shelled portions of Kharkiv on Thursday. Nine people were slain, according to authorities. In what it refers to as its “special military operation” in Ukraine, the Kremlin denies targeting people.

Russian authorities said they want to impose permanent authority in the south, where Moscow has captured a swath of territory since the Feb. 24 invasion, including the port of Mariupol.

Russian forces were reinforcing defenses and shelling Ukraine-controlled areas in the Kherson region in the south, according to the territory’s Ukrainian governor, Hennadiy Laguta.

He claimed that the humanitarian situation in some locations was serious, and that people were finding it difficult to flee.
On Friday, police claimed 31 individuals, including 13 children, were evacuated from the Luhansk region.

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