Russia wants the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk. to take

  • Russia claims to have taken the Ukrainian city of Lysycansk.
  • A Ukrainian mayor, meanwhile, said six people were killed by Russian shelling during attacks in western parts of the country.
  • Russia began its invasion in February.

Russia on Sunday claimed to have taken the strategic Ukrainian city of Lysychansk and the entire frontline of Lugansk, as a mayor said six people had been killed by Russian shelling in the west.

The gains claimed by Russia would mark a decisive breakthrough for Moscow’s forces seeking control of eastern Ukraine more than four months after their invasion and after shifting their focus from the capital Kiev.

The mayor of Sloviansk, 75 kilometers west of Lysychansk, reported the heaviest Russian shelling “in a long time”, saying that among the six killed was a child, 15 wounded and 15 burned.

On Sunday, Russia accused Ukraine of firing three cluster missiles at the city of Belgorod, near the Ukrainian border, and late Saturday, Belarus said it had intercepted Ukrainian missiles.

Lysychansk was the last major city in the Lugansk area of ​​the Donbas still in Ukrainian hands, and its capture would signal a deeper thrust in the eastern region.

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“Sergei Shoigu has informed the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces, Vladimir Putin, of the liberation of the People’s Republic of Lugansk,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

Minutes before the announcement, which AFP has not verified, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry had said that fighting was ongoing in Lysychansk and that Ukrainian forces were “completely” surrounded.

Ukraine has not yet commented on Russia’s claim that Lysychansk has fallen.

‘Shoot from all sides’

On Saturday, there were conflicting reports about Lysychansk’s status, with Ukraine denying Moscow’s claim to have surrounded the entire city, which lies just across the river from neighboring Severodonetsk, which was taken by Russian forces last week.

The town of Siversk, 30 kilometers west of Lysychansk, saw shelling at night, residents and an official told AFP.

“It was intense and it shot from all sides,” said a woman hiding in a basement.

“Fierce fighting continues all along the frontline, in Donbas,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech late Saturday, accusing “enemy activity” of “stepping up” in the wider region around Ukraine’s second city, Kharkov. .

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A strike in the town of Dobropillya has killed two people and injured three, including two children, local authorities in Donetsk said.

On Monday, leaders of dozens of countries and international organizations gathered in the Swiss city of Lugano for a conference on Ukraine’s reconstruction, aiming to provide a roadmap for the recovery of the war-ravaged country.

Zelensky said that “colossal investment” would be needed and that 10 regions of Ukraine had been affected by the war, with many towns and villages having to be “rebuilt from scratch”.

To fight

Ukraine will also face demands for wide-ranging reforms, especially in the crackdown on corruption after Brussels recently granted Kiev candidate status in its bid to join the 27-member bloc.

On Sunday, Moscow said its anti-aircraft fire shot down three Tochka-U cluster missiles launched by “Ukrainian nationalists” against Belgorod, close to the Ukrainian border.

Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said 11 residential buildings and 39 houses were damaged.

Russia has previously accused Kiev of carrying out attacks on Russian soil, particularly in the Belgorod region.

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko accused Kiev of provocation on Saturday, saying his army intercepted missiles fired at his country by Ukrainian troops “about three days ago”.

Belarus, a Russian ally, supported the February 24 invasion and is accused by Kiev of carrying out its own attacks on Ukrainian territory.

Lukashenko denied any involvement in a recent cross-border incident that would escalate the conflict.

Action

“We do not intend to fight in Ukraine,” he told state news agency Belta on Saturday.

A Ukrainian official said on Sunday that his country’s armed forces “deactivated” a Russian military base in Melitopol, while the Ukrainian army said the air force had taken out about 20 Russian units and two ammunition depots.

“The city of Melitopol is covered in smoke,” exiled mayor Ivan Fedorov said.

In peacetime, Ukraine is a major agricultural exporter, but the Russian invasion has damaged farmland and seized, razed or blocked Ukraine’s ports – raising concerns about food shortages, especially in poor countries.

Farmer Sergiy Lyubarsky, whose fields are close to the front lines, warned that time is running out to harvest this year’s crop.

“We can wait until August 10 at the latest, but after that the grains will dry out and fall to the ground,” he said.

Western powers have accused Putin of using the captured harvest as a weapon to increase pressure on the international community, and Russia has been accused of stealing grain.

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