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Russia Claims Capture of Pivotal City in Eastern Ukraine

Russia Claims Capture of Pivotal City in Eastern Ukraine

Sunday, 3 July, 2022 - 10:30
A local resident looks at an apartment building damaged during heavy fighting in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 16, 2022. (Alexei Alexandrov/AP)

Russia's defense minister said Russian forces took control Sunday of the last major Ukrainian-held city in Ukraine's Luhansk province, bringing Moscow closer to its stated goal of seizing all of Ukraine’s Donbas region.


Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that Russia's troops together with members of a local separatist militia "have established full control over the city of Lysychansk,” Russian news agencies reported.


Ukrainian fighters spent weeks trying to defend Lysychansk and to keep it from falling to Russia, as neighboring Sievierodonetsk did a week ago. A presidential adviser predicted late Saturday that the city's fate could be determined within days.


Ukrainian officials did not immediately provide an update on its status, The Associated Press reported.


Earlier Sunday, Luhansk's governor said Russian forces were strengthening their positions in a grueling fight to capture the last stronghold of resistance in the province.


“The occupiers threw all their forces on Lysychansk. They attacked the city with incomprehensibly cruel tactics,” Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said on the Telegram messaging app. “They suffer significant losses, but stubbornly advance. They are gaining a foothold in the city.”


A river separates Lysychansk from Sievierodonetsk. Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, said during an online interview late Saturday that Russian forces had managed for the first time to cross the river from the north, creating a “threatening” situation.


Arestovych said they had not reached the center of the city but that the course of the fighting indicated the battle for Lysychansk would be decided by Monday.


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


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