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Ukraine withdraws from the damaged city of Lysychansk; Russia declares huge success

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Ukraine's soldiers have withdrawn from the bombed-out city of Lysychansk, prompting Russia to declare...


Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Ukraine's soldiers have withdrawn from the bombed-out city of Lysychansk, prompting Russia to declare complete control of the eastern Luhansk area, a key Kremlin war goal, but President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has vowed to reclaim the lost territory.

Ukraine claimed on Sunday that the tactical withdrawal would save the lives of its forces, who would regroup in order to launch a counteroffensive using long-range Western weapons.

However, Moscow claimed that the liberation of Lysychansk, less than a week after the capture of nearby Sievierdonetsk, indicated it had "liberated" Luhansk. It declared that it will hand over the conquered region to the self-proclaimed Russian-backed Luhansk People's Republic, whose independence it acknowledged on the eve of the battle.

The battlefield focus has shifted to the neighbouring Donetsk area, where Kyiv still has swaths of territory under its control.

"If our army commanders evacuate troops from particular locations at the front where the enemy has the greatest advantage in firepower, and this also applies to Lysychansk," Zelenskiy stated in his nightly video on Sunday.

"That we will return due to our strategies and the increased availability of modern weapons."

According to Zelenskiy, Russia is concentrating its firepower on the Donbas front, but Ukraine will respond with long-range weapons such as US-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers.

"The fact that we protect the lives of our soldiers and citizens is equally vital. We will rebuild the walls, reclaim the territory, and above all, people must be safeguarded "According to Zelenskiy.

Russia has focussed its military operation on the industrial Donbas heartland, which includes the Luhansk and Donetsk areas, where Moscow-backed separatist proxies have been fighting Ukraine since 2014.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin that Luhansk had been "liberated," according to the defence ministry, after Russia had stated that its forces had conquered towns surrounding Lysychansk and encircled the city.

Mayor Vadym Lyakh of Sloviansk, west of Lysychansk in Donetsk area, reported on Facebook on Sunday that severe shelling had killed at least six people, including a 10-year-old girl.

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Since Russia's invasion on February 24, thousands of civilians have been killed and cities have been destroyed, with Kiev blaming Moscow of purposely targeting civilians. Moscow disputes this.

Russia claims that a "special military operation" in Ukraine is aimed at protecting Russian speakers against nationalists. Ukraine and its Western partners argue that this is a sham justification for brazen aggression aimed at seizing territory.

The Ukraine war has produced a global energy and food crisis, while Western-led sanctions against Moscow have triggered Russia's worst economic catastrophe since the Soviet Union's demise in 1991.

Germany has warned of gas shortages owing to declining Russian supply. According to an interview in the WirtschaftsWoche magazine on Monday, the head of its energy regulator stated the government credit of 15 billion euros ($15.64 billion) to buy gas for storage may not be enough.

While Russia would attempt to portray their breakthrough in Luhansk as a watershed event in the war, it came at a tremendous cost to Russia's military, according to Neil Melvin of the London-based think tank RUSI.

"Ukraine's position was never that it could defend everything. They've been attempting to slow down the Russian attack and do maximum damage while preparing for a counteroffensive "He stated.

Ukraine has frequently requested an increase in military supplies from the West, claiming that its forces are vastly outgunned.

KHARKIV STRIKES

According to Zelenskiy's administration, Russian artillery attacks targeted residential and farm buildings in Kharkiv.

Russia's defence ministry also announced on Sunday that it had hit the military infrastructure of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city in the northeast, where a Reuters correspondent said that Ukrainian forces were erecting fortifications after nightly shelling.

Some people dumped rubbish into a massive crater created by an early morning rocket strike outside a school in Kharkiv, while others received assistance restoring damaged dwellings.

"The wife was lucky that she woke up early in the morning because the roof fell exactly where she had been lying," Oleksii Mihulin, a resident, told Reuters.

On the Russian side of the border, about 70 kilometres (44 miles) from Kharkiv, Russia reported explosions on Sunday that killed at least three people and destroyed homes.

"The boom was so loud that I leapt up, woke up, was startled, and started shouting," a Belgorod resident told Reuters, adding that the explosions happened at 3 a.m. (0000 GMT).

Moscow has accused Kiev of carrying out multiple attacks on Belgorod and other Ukrainian border towns. Kyiv has never acknowledged blame for any of these occurrences.

HIT ON A MILITARY BASE

Ukraine's air force said it had flown 15 flights "in nearly all directions of hostilities," damaging equipment and two ammunition stores.

Ukrainian forces targeted a military supply station in the Russian-occupied southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol with more than 30 strikes on Sunday, according to the city's exiled mayor Ivan Fedorov. A Russian-installed official revealed that the city had been damaged by attacks.

The battlefield accounts could not be independently verified by Reuters.


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