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Ukraine’s military said Sunday it has withdrawn from the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk after Russian forces claimed to take control of the city, which was the last major population center in the Luhansk region still under Ukrainian control, in a major victory for Russia four months into its invasion.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a statement troops were forced to withdraw from Lysychansk—a city with nearly 100,000 residents—“in order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders,” but warned soldiers would come back and would “definitely win.”
The withdrawal comes hours after Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin forces had taken total control of Lysychansk and several surrounding towns, according to a statement from Russia’s Ministry of Defense.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry spokesperson Yuriy Sak denied the claim earlier Sunday morning in an interview with the BBC, saying the city was not under full control of Russian troops, but Ukrainian troops could withdraw “from certain areas so that we can retake them in the future.”
The Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment Saturday that Ukrainian troops likely conducted a deliberate withdrawal out of Lysychansk, and Ukraine’s counterclaims were probably “outdated or erroneous.”
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February, but its military has focused in recent months on capturing eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions—known collectively as the Donbas—scaling back its goals after meeting stiff Ukrainian resistance and failing to capture major cities like Kyiv. Russia has made gains in the Donbas region in recent weeks, including the capture of the city of Lyman in May and the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Severodonetsk last month. Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk region military administration, said earlier Sunday in a Facebook post that Russian troops had used more brutal tactics than in Severodonetsk to overcome resistance, according to a Washington Post translation. Russian troops will likely establish control of the entire Luhansk region within days, and then will focus on Ukrainian positions west of Lysychansk, including cities like Siversk, Slovyansk and Bakhmut, according to the Institute for the Study of War’s assessment Saturday.
$6.92 billion. That’s how much security assistance the U.S. has sent to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February, including a $820 million package authorized on Friday, according to the State Department.
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