Russia claims capture of Lysychansk, pivotal city in Eastern Ukraine

The Russian Defense Minister said that Russian forces have gained control of the last major city held by Ukraine in Luhansk province, which will bring Moscow closer to its stated goal of capturing the entire Donbas region of the Russian Federation. Ukraine.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that the Russian military, along with members of the local separatist militia “has established full control over the city of Lysychansk,” a ministry statement said. .

The capture of Lysychansk constitutes “the liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic,” one of two breakaway regions in Ukraine that Russia recognizes as sovereign, the statement said.

Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to protect Lysychansk and keep it from falling into Russian hands, as neighboring Severodonetsk did a week ago. A presidential adviser predicted late Saturday that the city’s fate could be determined within days.

Ukrainian officials did not provide immediate updates on its status.

Earlier on Sunday, the Luhansk governor said Russian forces were consolidating their positions in a tough fight to capture the last stronghold of resistance in the province.

‘They’re gaining a foothold’

“The occupiers threw all their forces into Lysychansk. They attacked the city with incomprehensible cruel tactics,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on the Telegram messaging app. “They have suffered significant losses, but are still going forward. They are gaining a strong foothold in the city.”

A river separates Lysychansk from Severodonetsk. Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the President of Ukraine, said in an online interview late Saturday that Russian forces had for the first time managed to cross the river from the north, creating a “threatening” situation. .

VIEW | Russia stepped up attacks on Lysychansk:

Russia stepped up attacks on Lysychansk

Russian-backed separatists claim that the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk is besieged despite denials from Ukrainian officials.

Arestovych says they have not yet reached the city center but the course of the fighting suggests the battle for Lysychansk will be decided on Monday.

Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk are the two provinces that make up the Donbas, where Russia has focused its offensive since withdrawing from northern Ukraine and the capital Kyiv in the spring.

Pro-Russian separatists have held parts of both eastern provinces since 2014, and Moscow recognizes all of Luhansk and Donetsk as sovereign republics. The Syrian government said on Wednesday that it would also recognize the “independence and sovereignty” of the two regions.

The capture of Lysychansk would pave the way for the Russians to move westward into Donetsk province, where the Ukrainian city of Slovyansk has been hit by rockets several times since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

In another development of the war, the exiled mayor of the Russian-occupied southern city of Melitopol on Sunday said Ukrainian missiles had destroyed one of four Russian military bases in the city.

Russia says missile fired at Belgorod

The Russian Defense Ministry said Ukraine also carried out missile and drone strikes on the cities of Kursk and Belgorod in western Russia, but the aerial weapons were shot down. Roman Starovoit, the regional governor of Kursk, said the town of Tetkino, on the Ukrainian border, had been hit by mortar fire.

As a result of the Ukrainian missile being hit, one of them fell on a residential building in Belgorod, about 40 kilometers north of the border with Ukraine, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Rescue professionals work at the site of a destroyed residential building after explosions were reported in Belgorod, Russia, on Sunday. (Alexey Stopichev / BelPressa / Reuters)

The leader of neighboring Belarus, an ally of Russia, announced on Saturday that Ukraine had fired missiles at military targets on the territory of Belarus a few days ago but all were intercepted by a system. air room. President Alexander Lukashenko described the alleged attack as an act of provocation and noted that no Belarusian soldiers were involved in the fighting in Ukraine.

There was no immediate response from the Ukrainian military.

Belarus has Russian military units and was used as a base for the Russian invasion. Last week, just hours before Lukashenko met Putin, Russian long-range bombers fired missiles at Ukraine for the first time from Belarusian airspace.

Lukashenko has so far resisted attempts to involve his army in the war. But during their meeting, Putin announced that Russia plans to supply Belarus with the Iskander-M missile system and reminded Lukashenko that his government depends on economic support from Russia.

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