Ukrainian forces battling Russian troops in a key eastern city appeared on the cusp of retreat Wednesday, though the regional governor insisted they are still fighting “for every centimeter” of the city.
The urban battle for Sievierodonetsk testified to the painstaking, inch-by-inch advance by Russian forces as they close in on control of the entire Luhansk region, one of two that make up the industrial heartland known as the Donbas.
After a bungled attempt to overrun Kyiv in the early days of the war, Russia shifted its focus to the region of coal mines and factories. The Donbas has been partly controlled by Russia-backed separatists since 2014, making supply lines shorter and allowing Moscow to tap those separatist forces in its offensive there.
But Russia also faces Ukraine’s most battle-hardened troops, who have been fighting the separatists for eight years there.