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How does Russia’s capture of Severodonetsk affect Ukraine?

Military analysts have told Al Jazeera that the loss of Severodonetsk is more significant and symbolic for Russia than it is for Ukraine.

After weeks of fighting, Ukrainian forces abandoned the town in the Luhansk region on Friday.

It makes no sense to keep positions smashed over many months for the sake of staying there, Serhiy Haidai said in televised remarks.

According to a top military expert, the fall of the nearly-destroyed town is insignificant despite heavy Russian bombardment in the area.

“It’s a minor loss since Lysychansk [the nearby town controlled by Ukraine] has largely served its purpose,” Ihor Romanenko, former deputy chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, told Al Jazeera.

Severodonetsk is one of the few Ukrainian-controlled towns in Luhansk, one of Ukraine’s smallest and poorest regions, which was partially invaded by pro-Russian separatists in 2014.

‚ÄúThere are geopolitical implications for Russians, it is the district center in the unoccupied part of Luhansk. We will survive it, we are more interested in the military aspect,” Romanenko said.

As a result of the claimed Russian victory in Luhansk, Moscow ordered the redeployment of its forces from the occupied Kherson region, as well as partially occupied Zaporizhzhia, where Ukrainian forces are regaining ground.

Analysts in the West and in Russia agree with him.

Severodonetsk was a loss for Ukraine, as any territory captured by Russian forces is a loss – but the battle will not be a decisive Russian victory, according to the think tank Institute for War, which has closely followed the war since it began exactly four months

In Severodonetsk, where a prewar population of about 100,000 lived, two months of intense fighting significantly decimated Russian forces.

A number of observers believe Moscow’s long-term prospects in this war are not favorable due to heavy losses and demoralised manpower, coupled with Western sanctions that prevent the production of high-precision weaponry.

“The time works against Russia due to its largely irreplaceable military potential,” he explained.

As Severodonetsk lies on the Siversky Donets river, which the Russians have attempted to cross several times without success – with heavy losses of manpower and armored vehicles.

Severodonetsk fell because Russian artillery was superior.

To pound Ukrainian positions and residential areas, the Russians have used multiple rocket launchers, bombers, and even outdated Tochka U cruise missiles.

 

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