Russia says its forces now have full control over eastern Ukraine


© Reuters. A view shows a destroyed tank during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the city of Sievierodonetsk in the Luhansk Region, Ukraine July 1, 2022. REUTERS / Alexander Ermochenko


By Tom Balmforth, Max Hunder and Simon Lewis

KYIV/KONSTYANTYNIVKA, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russia said on Sunday that its forces and their allies had taken control of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, after capturing the country’s last Lysychansk stronghold. Ukraine, although Ukraine has yet to comment after reports of heavy fighting there.

After fierce resistance by Ukraine to prevent Russia from taking the capital Kyiv following the February 24 invasion, Moscow shifted its focus to gaining full control of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting in the region since Russia’s first military intervention in Ukraine in 2014.

Russian Defense Ministry Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin that Luhansk had been “liberated”, the ministry said, after Russia earlier said its forces had captured villages around Lysychansk and besieged it. city.

The minister said Russian forces and their allies in the region have “gained full control of the city of Lysychansk”.

The Ukrainian military did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Ukrainian officials, who say references to “liberating” Ukrainian territory are Russian war propaganda, have reported intense shelling of residential areas.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think-tank, wrote in a brief report: “Ukrainian forces may have deliberately withdrawn from Lysychansk, leading to the Russian occupation of Lysychansk. hold this city on 2/7.

They based their assessment on footage showing Russian forces walking idly in the northern and eastern regions of Lysychansk, saying it showed little or no Ukrainian forces remaining. It said the footage included images posted on social media and geolocated to confirm where it was filmed.

“The Russians are reinforcing their positions in the Lysychansk region, the city is on fire,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai wrote on the Telegram app before Russia announced the offensive. “They attacked the city with inexplicably brutal tactics.”

Thousands of civilians have been killed and cities razed since the Russian invasion, with Kyiv accusing Moscow of deliberately targeting civilians. Moscow denies this.

Russia says what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine aimed at protecting Russian-speaking people from nationalists. Ukraine and its Western allies consider this to be an unfounded pretext for their blatant aggression to seize territory.


Russia also reported Sunday explosions in the city of Belgorod, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the border with Ukraine, killing at least three people, damaging and destroying homes.

Senior Russian lawmaker Andrei Klishas accused Ukraine of shelling Belgorod and called for a stern response.

Russian regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram that five houses were destroyed in the city and at least 11 apartment buildings and more than 30 houses were damaged.

One Belgorod resident told Reuters: “The sound was so strong that I jumped up, woke up, was very scared and started screaming.”

Moscow has accused Kyiv of numerous attacks on Belgorod and other areas bordering Ukraine. Kyiv does not accept responsibility but says such incidents are just payback, after Russia turned Ukraine’s urban areas into rubble.

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine on the latest Belgorod incident. Reuters was unable to independently verify the Russian accounts.

In the Russian-occupied southern city of Melitopol, Ukrainian forces attacked a military base with more than 30 attacks on Sunday, the city’s exile mayor Ivan Fedorov said in a statement. show on Telegram.

He said the base had been “decommissioned”.

A Moscow official said several private residential houses near the airport were damaged, but there were no casualties.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said its air force carried out about 15 times “in almost all directions of hostilities”, destroying equipment and two ammunition depots.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

On Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry said it had attacked the military infrastructure of Kharkiv, a city in northeastern Ukraine where Ukrainian forces are digging and building concrete fortifications after raids. nightly shelling, a Reuters reporter said.

Dozens of civilians have been injured or killed in the area in recent weeks.

Without fighting to the east and close to another front to the south, Russia said it attacked army command posts in Mykolaiv near the important Black Sea port of Odesa, where the mayor reported several strong explosion on Saturday.

“The Russian occupation forces are conducting systematic missile attacks in the direction of Mykolaiv,” the General Staff of Ukraine said on Sunday.

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