.
.
.
.
Russia Ukraine conflict

Ukraine says Russian advances could force retreat in part of east

Published: Updated:

Ukrainian forces may have to retreat from their last pocket in the Luhansk region to avoid being captured, a Ukrainian official said, as Russian troops press an advance in the east that has shifted the momentum of the three-month-old war.

A withdrawal could bring Russian President Vladimir Putin closer to his goal of capturing eastern Ukraine's Luhansk and Donetsk regions in full. His troops have gained ground in the two areas collectively known as the Donbas while blasting some towns to wastelands.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Luhansk's governor, Serhiy Gaidai, said Russian troops had entered Sievierodonetsk, the largest Donbas city still held by Ukraine, after trying to trap Ukrainian forces there for days, though adding that Russian forces would not be able to capture the Luhansk region “as analysts have predicted”.

“We will have enough strength and resources to defend ourselves. However, it is possible that in order not to be surrounded we will have to retreat,” Gaidai said on Telegram.

Gaidai said 90 percent of buildings in Sievierodonetsk were damaged with 14 high-rises destroyed in the latest shelling.

Russia's separatist proxies said they controlled Lyman, a railway hub west of Sievierodonetsk. Ukraine said Russia had captured most of Lyman but that its forces were blocking an advance to Sloviansk, to the southwest.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine was protecting its land “as much as our current defence resources allow”. Ukraine's military said it had repelled eight attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk on Friday, destroying tanks and armoured vehicles.

“If the occupiers think that Lyman and Sievierodonetsk will be theirs, they are wrong. Donbas will be Ukrainian,” Zelenskyy said in an address.

Read more:

Ukraine’s Moscow-backed Orthodox church says cuts ties with Russia

Putin says he is ready to deliver gas, discuss prisoner swap: Austria

Russian lawmakers in hot water for urging Putin to end Ukraine conflict