The Russian military says Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from the eastern Ukrainian city of Severdonetsk, where heavy fighting is raging between Kiev and Moscow forces.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that “Ukrainian military units have retreated to the nearby city of Lviv, as Chevrodonetsk (up to 90% of the divisions) suffered heavy casualties in the fighting.”
According to the AFP, no indication was given of the number of Ukrainian soldiers who had been withdrawn, and these reports could not be confirmed with an independent source.
“The Ukrainian authorities, realizing that it is not possible to resist further and maintain the Severodonetsk industrial zone, ordered a mixed tactical team to mine reservoirs containing nitrate and nitric acid at the Azote factory,” the Russian military said.
The group, which was on the ground, was made up of “survivors” of the 79th Airstrike Brigade and members of the Ukrainian regional security forces, he added.
According to Moscow, Ukrainian forces want to explode the chemical deposits and pollute the area and “delay” the attack by Russian troops.
Russia needs to capture Severodonestsk in order to capture the entire Donbass area, partly occupied by pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow since 2014.