Ukrainian troops may have to retreat from flashpoint city: Governor

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KYIV: Ukrainian forces may have to retreat from the eastern city of Severodonetsk which is being shelled by Russian troops “24 hours a day,” an official said Wednesday, following days of raging street battles.
The strategic city has become the focus of Russia’s offensive as they seek to seize an eastern swathe of Ukraine, after being repelled from other parts of the country.
Moscow claimed Tuesday they had full control of residential areas while Kyiv was still holding the industrial zone and surrounding settlements, but Ukrainian officials insisted the Russians were not in control of the city.
On Wednesday Sergiy Gaiday — governor of the Lugansk region, which includes the city — said Ukraine’s forces might have to pull back.
“It is possible that we will have to retreat” to better fortified positions, he said in an interview on the TV channel 1+1.
In his daily address late Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had struck a defiant tone: “The absolutely heroic defense of Donbas continues.”
Russia’s offensive is now targeting the Donbas region, which includes Lugansk and Donetsk, after its forces were pushed back from Kyiv and other areas following the February invasion.
The cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which are separated by a river, are the last areas still under Ukrainian control in Lugansk.
The war’s impact continued to reverberate, with the World Bank cutting its global growth estimate to 2.9 percent — 1.2 percentage points below the January forecast — due largely to the invasion of Ukraine.
The toxic combination of weak growth and rising prices could trigger widespread suffering in dozens of poorer countries still struggling to recover from the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank said.
Severodonetsk appeared close to being captured just days ago but Ukrainian forces launched counterattacks and managed to hold out, despite warnings they are outnumbered by superior forces.
Ukraine’s forces have claimed to have killed several of Russia’s top brass but their exact number is not known as Moscow is tight-lipped on losses.


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