Pro-Russia official claims 16,000 Ukrainian troops encircled in Donbas


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As many as 16,000 Ukrainian soldiers have allegedly been surrounded in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, a top official from a pro-Russian separatist group known as the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) claimed Tuesday.

Assistant Minister of the Interior of the LPR, Vitaly Kiselev, said the troops had been encircled near the towns of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in the eastern Luhansk region, reported Russian media outlets. 

Ukrainian servicemen climb on a fighting vehicle outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 2, 2022.

Ukrainian servicemen climb on a fighting vehicle outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 2, 2022.
(AP)

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Kiselev said these Ukrainian troops were likely ordered not to withdraw and claimed similar orders were reportedly given to Ukrainian troops captured near the eastern city of Rubizhnoye.

“They said that they repeatedly appealed to the command,” the LPR official told Russian media, but added they were “forbidden” from leaving their posts. 

Kiselev alleged that Ukrainian troops were told “to stand to the death” and claimed that “high ranking commanders” had left the area a month ago.

Fox News could not independently verify these allegations. 

TOPSHOT - Servicemen of the Ukrainian Military Forces wait out the shelling in a shelter on a position in the Luhansk region on March 5, 2022. 

TOPSHOT – Servicemen of the Ukrainian Military Forces wait out the shelling in a shelter on a position in the Luhansk region on March 5, 2022. 

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Ukrainian defense officials have not commented on the claims by the pro-Russian separatist group.

Instead, in an operational update Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said that Russia had “suffered losses” and “withdrew” amid fighting in an area known as Sirotyne near Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. 

A Ukrainian news outlet reported Sunday that Russia was advancing troops in Luhansk in a greater effort to secure supply routes in eastern Ukraine as it looks to take “full control” over the Donbas region. 

The majority of heavy fighting remains in the eastern Luhansk and Dontesk regions, but a senior U.S. defense official said Monday that Ukrainian forces have made advances outside the north-eastern city of Kharkiv.

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“The Ukrainians have been able to push Russian forces back. They are regaining ground in territory that the Russians had occupied north of the city,” the official said.

Kharkiv is a strategically important city for Russian forces and was used as a major thoroughfare for Moscow last month as it funneled troops out of Russia’s southern border into northern Ukraine in the direction of the Donbas. 

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