Ukraine troops retreat from Lysychansk, major breakthrough for Russia
Lysychansk had been the last major city in the Lugansk area of the eastern Donbas region still in Ukrainian hands and frees up Moscow's forces to advance on Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in neighbouring Donetsk
Ukrainian army on Sunday (July 3), retreated from strategically important city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region. The retreat followed weeks of fierce fighting. Capture of Lysychansk represents a major breakthrough for Russia in its stated aim of asserting control over Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. After their February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces were repelled from the capital Kyiv. Russia has then focussed on capturing eastern Ukrainian regions. Pro-Russian groups were already active in Donetsk and Luhansk region.
"The continuation of the defence of the city would lead to fatal consequences" in the face of Russia's superiority in numbers and equipment, the army said in a statement.
"In order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw.
"Unfortunately, steel will and patriotism are not enough for success -- material and technical resources are needed."
Watch | Russia claims 'full control' over Luhansk region
Russian forces seized Lysychansk's twin city of Severodonetsk last week following weeks of intense fighting.
Russian Defence Minister Segey Shoigu had, earlier in the day, had declared that Russia controlled Lysychansk. The claim was refuted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Army statement of Ukrainian retreat came in later hours.
Lysychansk had been the last major city in the Lugansk area of the eastern Donbas region still in Ukrainian hands and frees up Moscow's forces to advance on Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in neighbouring Donetsk.
The latest blow to Ukrainian resistance came after Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Sunday pledged further military support including armoured vehicles and drones during a meeting with Zelensky in Kyiv.
(With inputs from agencies)
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