Ukrainian servicemen go to a position in the city of Severodonetsk of Luhansk area, Ukraine, on Sunday. Ukraine is now withdrawing troops from the area. Photo by Oleksandr Ratushniak/EPA-EFE
June 24 (UPI) -- After months of relentless shelling of Severodonetsk by Russian troops, Ukrainian officials said they will withdraw troops from the key eastern hub city on Friday.
It marks a significant Russian victory in its effort to capture the eastern Donbas region from Ukraine in the Kremlin's invasion of the country that started in late February. Outgunned and outnumbered, Kyiv managed to delay Russia's efforts to capture the city for weeks, forcing them to bring in resources from other areas.
"We can easily win back Severodonetsk, we can win it back in a week -- but at what price?" regional governor Serhiy Haidai said Friday, according to The Washington Post, adding that the city had been attacked "almost every day for four months."
Officials said, according to The Guardian, the fighting in Severodonetsk and another key eastern city Lysychansk had turned into a "bloody war of attrition" with Ukrainian and Russian troops facing mounting casualties, but with Moscow making incremental advances.
Russian officials said Friday its military has trapped about 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the Donbas region
"In total, in the Hirske area, we have cut off up to 2,000 people: about [Ukrainian] 1,800 servicemen, 120 Nazis from Right Sector, up to 80 foreign mercenaries, as well as over 40 armored combat vehicles and about 80 guns and mortars," Moscow defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, according to CNN.
The Kremlin said its forces had also targeted five ammunition depots in the Luhansk region.
"To replenish the losses in manpower, Ukrainian command is forced to form separate rifle battalions formed by untrained, mobilized citizens in each region toward Donetsk and Luhansk," Konashenkov said.
The Kremlin said a car bomb that killed a Russian-installed administrator in the occupied southern Ukraine city of Kherson was an "act of terrorism."
Dmitry Savluchenko died as a result of the explosion, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
"I can only say: Our military is there, and, of course, this terrorist activity requires special attention," Peskov said, according to The Guardian. "These are nothing but acts of terrorism. And, accordingly, they can only be treated that way."