DRUZHKIVKA, Ukraine — After weeks of bloody street fighting and months of withering artillery fire, Ukrainian forces will withdraw from Sievierodonetsk, a city that President Volodymyr Zelensky once said would determine the “fate” of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
The retreat from the devastated industrial city on the east bank of the Siversky Donets River was confirmed Friday by Serhiy Haidai, the head of the military administration in Luhansk. It represents the most significant loss for the Ukrainian military since Russian forces a month ago after a similarly brutal campaign of heavy shelling and street fighting left that southern port in ruins.
It means the Russian military can now concentrate fully on taking control of Lysychansk, Sievierodonetsk’s twin city on the west bank of the river and the last city in the Luhansk region still under Ukrainian control. Analysts expect that the Russians will then set their sights on seizing the remnant of the Donetsk region still held by Ukrainian forces, which would complete their conquest of Donbas.