Russia-Ukraine war: Ukrainian troops withdraw from Sievierodonetsk; major shake-up in Russian high command, says UK – live

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Ukraine troops withdraw from Sievierodonetsk

The Ukrainian military said on Saturday that Ukrainian troops had withdrawn from the strategic frontline city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine.
“After the withdrawal of our military units, the enemy is consolidating its positions in ... Sievierodonetsk,” it said in an update.

It comes after Russian forces are now in control of the city of in eastern Ukraine, its mayor Oleksandr Stryuk told Ukrainian TV.

Russian shelling damaged a nuclear research facility in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate said.
The strike damaged some of the site’s buildings and infrastructure but did not affect the area housing nuclear fuel and radiation levels there are within a normal range, it said in an online post. “The probability of new damage ... which can directly affect the state of nuclear and radiation safety, remains high due to shelling by Russian troops,” it said. Reuters could not independently verify the inspectorate’s account on the incident.

Ukraine troops withdraw from Sievierodonetsk

The Ukrainian military said on Saturday that Ukrainian troops had withdrawn from the strategic frontline city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine.
“After the withdrawal of our military units, the enemy is consolidating its positions in ... Sievierodonetsk,” it said in an update.

It comes after Russian forces are now in control of the city of in eastern Ukraine, its mayor Oleksandr Stryuk told Ukrainian TV.

Budanov added Russia is using its reserve forces in a covert mobilisation to replenish its ranks in eastern Ukraine and there is no point in waiting for its offensive potential to diminish.

He told Reuters he believed Ukraine could only achieve a victory against Russia through military force.

“We shouldn’t wait for a miracle that they will tire and stop wanting to fight and so on. We will win back our territory as a result of our counteroffensive,” said Budanov, head of the defence intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

Budanov said Ukraine should see “visible results” of its counteroffensive in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson in Ukraine’s south from August.

Ukraine is regrouping its forces from the rubble of the city of Sievierodonetsk to higher ground in neighbouring Lysychansk to gain a tactical advantage over Russia, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said.

In an interview in Kyiv, Kyrylo Budanov told Reuters that Ukrainian forces would continue their defence of that front from Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine and that it was no longer possible to hold the line in Sievierodonetsk.

“The activities happening in the area of Sievierodonetsk are a tactical regrouping of our troops. This is a withdrawal to advantageous positions to obtain a tactical advantage,” said, Budanov, head of the defence intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

Russia is using the tactic ... it used in Mariupol: wiping the city from the face of the earth. Given the conditions, holding the defence in the ruins and open fields is no longer possible. So the Ukrainian forces are leaving for higher ground to continue the defence operations,” he said.

Asked if he meant Lysychansk, he said: “Yes, this is the only higher ground.”

The mayors of several European capitals have been duped into holding video calls with a deepfake of their counterpart in Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko.

The mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey, took part in a scheduled call on the Webex video conferencing platform on Friday with a person she said looked and sounded like Klitschko.

“There were no signs that the video conference call wasn’t being held with a real person,” her office said in a statement.

Ukraine said it came under “massive bombardment” from neighbouring Belarus as clashes were reported in the streets of the eastern city of Lysychansk, AFP reports.

Twenty rockets “fired from the territory of Belarus and from the air” targeted the village of Desna in the northern Chernigiv region, Ukraine’s northern military command said.

It said infrastructure was hit, but no casualties had yet been reported.

Belarus has provided logistic support to Moscow since the 24 February invasion, particularly in the first few weeks, and like Russia has been targeted by western sanctions but is officially not involved in the conflict.

“Today’s strike is directly linked to Kremlin efforts to pull Belarus as a co-belligerent into the war in Ukraine,” the Ukrainian intelligence service said.

Russian helicopters have launched missiles at a border village in the northeastern Ukrainian province of Sumy province.

Two Russian helicopters “carried out six launches of unguided missiles” on the Krasnopillia village in Sumy, near the Ukrainian border with Russia, Kyiv Independent reports, citing Ukraine’s border guard service.

No casualties have been reported yet.

The mayors of several European capitals were tricked into holding video calls with a deepfake of the Kyiv mayor, Vitali Klitschko, last week.

There were “no signs that the video conference call wasn’t being held with a real person”, said the office of the mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey, who was among those who were duped.

Ukrainian troops pulling out of Sievierodonetsk

Russian forces are attempting to blockade the eastern city of Lysychansk, the region’s governor said on Saturday, after Ukrainian troops were forced to begin pulling out of neighbouring city Sievierodonetsk.

Here is an update on the situation in the cities, which are in the eastern Luhansk province (one of two provinces making up the Donbas region).

Russian and separatist fights are trying to block the city of Lysychansk from the south, Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk province, said on Facebook.
A spokesman for the separatist forces, Andrei Marochko, said the fighters had entered Lysychansk and that there was fighting in the city centre, Russia’s Interfax news agency reports.
The two cities and surrounding areas are the last major pockets of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk, 95% of which is under Russian and local separatist control. Some Ukrainian troops remain in the Azot chemical factory on the city’s edge, along with about 500 civilians. A separatist representative, Ivan Filiponenko, said 800 civilians were evacuated from the plant overnight, Interfax reported. Ukraine’s troops have ‘almost left’ Sievierodonetsk, the local mayor has said
A tank of the Ukrainian Armed Forces its seen in the industrial area of the city of Sievierodonetsk
A tank of the Ukrainian Armed Forces its seen in the industrial area of the city of Sievierodonetsk. Photograph: Reuters
Gennady Goncharov, 67, surveys the damage of his apartment following previous night’s shelling in Donetsk
Gennady Goncharov, 67, surveys damage to his apartment following previous night’s shelling in Donetsk. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters
People clean up debris next to an office building near the centre of Kharkiv
People clean up debris next to an office building near the centre of Kharkiv. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters
A woman carries her belongings and a cat while leaving a damaged house following recent shelling in the Petrovsky district of Donetsk
A woman carries her belongings and a cat while leaving a damaged house following recent shelling in the Petrovsky district of Donetsk. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Almost all of Ukraine’s troops have now withdrawn from the strategic frontline city Sievierodonetsk, the local mayor has said.

Fierce fighting over the city has been ongoing for weeks against advancing Russian forces.

Reuters reports that mayor Oleksandr Stryuk did not confirm whether a full withdrawal was under way, but told national television:

Unfortunately, they have almost left the city.

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