The Ukrainian army withdraws from the embattled city of Lysychansk – “to protect the lives of the defenders”. Russia is already reporting the complete conquest of the Luhansk region.

The Ukrainian army has announced its withdrawal from the embattled city of Lysychansk in the east of the country. “In order to protect the lives of the Ukrainian defenders, the decision was made to withdraw,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement Sunday evening. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had previously rejected Russia’s statements about the complete capture of the city.

In its statement, the General Staff referred to the numerical and material superiority of the Russian army. The Russian Defense Ministry had previously stated that the capture of the strategically important city had “liberated” the entire Donbass region of Luhansk. The Ukrainian army initially denied this.

Zelenskyy said at a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Kyiv on Sunday: “We cannot say today that Lysychansk is under (Russian) control.” Fighting is still going on in the outskirts. At the same time, the President warned of the “risks” that the Luhansk region would be “completely occupied” by Russia.

Ukraine War: Luhansk falls into Russian hands

In the past few days, Lysychansk was the last major place held by Ukrainian troops in the Luhansk region. Its conquest is one of the war goals named by Russia. In the last week of June, the Ukrainian military had to give up the city of Sievjerodonetsk, which is only separated from Lysychank by a river. Before the war that Russia started at the end of February, around 380,000 people lived in the metropolitan area.

A statement from the Russian defense minister said: “Successful combat operations of the Russian armed forces together with units of the Luhansk People’s Republic have established complete control over the city of Lysychansk and a number of nearby towns.”

A spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense called this untrue on the BBC. However, Russian troops attacked constantly. “For Ukrainians, the value of human life is the top priority,” said the spokesman. “As a result, we might sometimes withdraw from certain areas in order to reclaim them in the future.”