Ukrainian troops have been ordered to withdraw from Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk Oblast Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Wednesday.

The city has witnessed fierce fighting for the past several months, with Ukrainian forces losing the control of most of it.

The official said Thursday that troops had pulled out of some areas around the twin city of Lysychansk, which sits just the other side of the Siverskyi Donets river to the battleground city of Sievierodonetsk.

“Remaining in positions that have been relentlessly shelled for months just doesn't make sense. They have received orders to retreat to new positions... and from there continue their operations. There is no point in staying in positions which have been destroyed over several months just for the sake of staying,” Haidai said.

“Do not spread rumors of betrayal. Nobody abandons our guys, nobody allows the encirclement of our forces,” he added.

The street fighting has turned Sievierodonetsk, once a quiet industrial city of 160,000 people, into a largely abandoned ruin.

Russian troops have damaged about 90 percent of the buildings and destroyed all three key bridges leading to the city, further complicating logistics and civilian evacuation efforts.

According to local officials, more than 2,000 civilians have been killed since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24. (ILKHA)

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