Ukrainian forces retreat from the eastern city of Svyarodonetsk to avoid being surrounded by the Russians

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Ukrainian forces withdraw after weeks from the besieged eastern city of Svyarodonetsk A fierce, bloody battle, Luhansk government Serhi Haidai said on Friday.

Russian forces continue to bomb the city, which is the administrative center of the Luhansk region, and Ukrainians are retreating to escape the encirclement.

Russian control About 95% of Luhansk province and about 50% of neighboring Donetsk province. Both are in the disputed Donbass region.

Mykhailo Strebiz, commander of an artillery unit of the Ukrainian Army, walks into a house destroyed by shelling in a village near the border line in Donetsk Oblast region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, June 2, 2022.
(AP Photo/Bernaut Amangue, FILE)

Haidai said the defenders would continue to fight from the new positions after the retreat.

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Ukrainians fought Russians on the streets of the city before hiding in a chemical factory.

In Mariupol, the last remaining Ukrainian fighters before Russia’s capture of the city were holed up inside a steel plant and taken as prisoners of war in May.

Russian soldiers guard an area at a captured Ukrainian checkpoint with well-fortified trenches near the city of Shastia, on the area that the government of the Luhansk People's Republic controls, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, June 11, 2022 is subjected to.  This photo was taken during a visit organized by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Russian soldiers guard an area at a captured Ukrainian checkpoint with well-fortified trenches near the city of Shastia, on the area that the government of the Luhansk People’s Republic controls, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, June 11, 2022 is subjected to. This photo was taken during a visit organized by the Russian Defense Ministry.
(AP)

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Russian troops have made gains in the city and neighboring Lisichansk as it undermines resistance from Ukraine.

“We have to pull our people back,” Haidai said. “There is no point in staying in the destroyed places, because the casualties in poorly fortified areas will increase every day.”

Russia’s defense ministry claimed on Friday it had “completely blocked” four Ukrainian battalions and a foreign mercenary unit – about 2,000 soldiers – south of Lisichansk.

A woman gestures near an apartment building damaged during shelling in Donetsk in the area under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

A woman gestures near an apartment building damaged during shelling in Donetsk in the area under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alexey Alexandrov)

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Haidai stated that the Russians were also moving from Zolot and Toshkivka towards Lisichansk, adding that Russian reconnaissance units invaded the city’s flanks but were driven out by its defenders.

Russia invaded Ukraine four months ago on February 24 in what it called a “special military operation” and has recently turned its attention to the disputed eastern Donbass region after its failure to capture the country’s capital, Kyiv. .

US and allied leaders visit Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a show of support Leaders of France, Italy, Germany and Poland visited last week – and the US and its allies continue to support the country with military aid.

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The US recently sent medium-range American rocket launchers to Ukraine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.