Russian army says it has full control over Sievierodonetsk

Russian forces have established full control over the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk and the nearby town of Borivske, a senior Defense Ministry official said in a statement on Saturday.

Ukrainian officials said earlier in the day that their troops had withdrawn from Sievierodonetsk after a protracted battle with regular Russian troops and fighters from the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR).

“As a result of successful offensive operations, units of the People’s Militia of the LPR, with the support of Russian troops … have completely liberated the towns of Severodonetsk and Borivske”, the spokesman of the Ministry of Defense, Igor Konashenkov.

He said the attack thwarted what he called a Ukrainian attempt to turn the city’s Azot chemical plant into a tenacious center of resistance.

Konashenkov said LPR fighters now controlled the factory, where several hundred citizens had taken refuge. He made no mention of their fate.

Russian bombardments reduced most of Sievierodonetsk to rubble and reduced its population from 100,000 to 10,000.

A senior US defense official, speaking in Washington on condition of anonymity, on Friday called the Ukrainians’ departure from Sievierodonetsk a “tactical retrograde” to shore up forces in positions where they can better defend themselves. This will add to Ukraine’s efforts to keep Russian forces pinned down in a small area for longer, the official said.