Ukraine withdraws from battered Lysychansk city; Russia claims major victory

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KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s forces have withdrawn from the bombed-out metropolis of Lysychansk, prompting Russia to say full management of the japanese Luhansk area, a key Kremlin warfare aim, however President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed to regain the misplaced territory.

Ukraine on Sunday mentioned the tactical withdrawal would save the lives of its troopers who would regroup, to launch a counter offensive with the assistance of long-range Western weapons.

But Moscow mentioned the seize of Lysychansk lower than every week after taking neighbouring Sievierdonetsk meant it had “liberated” Luhansk. It mentioned it’ll give Luhansk to the self-proclaimed Russian-backed Luhansk People’s Republic whose independence it recognised on the eve of the warfare.

The battlefield focus now shifts to the neighbouring Donetsk area, the place Kyiv nonetheless controls swathes of territory.

“If the commanders of our military withdraw folks from sure factors on the entrance, the place the enemy has the best benefit in firepower, and this additionally applies to Lysychansk, it means just one factor,” Zelenskiy mentioned in his nightly video on Sunday.

“That we are going to return because of our ways, because of the rise within the provide of contemporary weapons.”

Zelenskiy mentioned Russia was concentrating its firepower on the Donbas entrance, however Ukraine would hit again with long-range weapons such because the U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers.

“The indisputable fact that we defend the lives of our troopers, our folks, performs an equally essential function. We will rebuild the partitions, we are going to win again the land, and other people have to be protected above all else,” Zelenskiy mentioned.

Since abandoning an assault on the capital Kyiv, Russia has concentrated its army operation on the economic Donbas heartland that includes the Luhansk and Donetsk areas, the place Moscow-backed separatist proxies have been combating Ukraine since 2014.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu knowledgeable President Vladimir Putin that Luhansk had been “liberated”, the defence ministry mentioned, after Russia earlier mentioned its forces had captured villages round Lysychansk and encircled town.

Ukraine’s army command mentioned its forces had been compelled to retreat from town.

“The continuation of the defence of town would result in deadly penalties. In order to protect the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a call was made to withdraw,” it mentioned in a press release on social media.

Ukrainian officers, who say references to “liberating” Ukrainian territory are Russian propaganda, had reported intense artillery barrages on residential areas.

West of Lysychansk in Donetsk area, no less than six folks have been killed when the Ukrainian metropolis of Sloviansk was hit by highly effective shelling from a number of rocket launchers on Sunday, native officers mentioned.

COSTLY CAMPAIGN

Thousands of civilians have been killed and cities levelled since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, with Kyiv accusing Moscow of intentionally focusing on civilians. Moscow denies this.

Russia says what it calls a “particular army operation” in Ukraine goals to guard Russian audio system from nationalists. Ukraine and its Western allies say this can be a baseless pretext for flagrant aggression that goals to grab territory.

While Russia would attempt to body its advance in Luhansk as a major second within the warfare, it got here at a excessive price to Russia’s army, mentioned Neil Melvin of the London-based assume tank RUSI.

“Ukraine’s place was by no means that they might defend all of this. What they have been attempting to do is to decelerate the Russian assault and trigger most injury, whereas they construct up for a counteroffensive,” he mentioned.

KHARKIV STRIKES

Zelenskiy mentioned Russia had “brutally” struck Kharkiv, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk with rocket assaults, leaving six lifeless and 20 wounded in Sloviansk alone.

Russia’s defence ministry additionally mentioned on Sunday it had struck the army infrastructure of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis within the northeast, the place a Reuters reporter mentioned Ukrainian forces had been constructing fortifications after nightly shelling.

Outside a college in Kharkiv, some residents threw particles into a big crater created by an early morning rocket strike whereas others bought assist repairing broken homes.

“The spouse was fortunate that she awoke early within the morning as a result of the roof fell precisely the place she had been sleeping,” one resident, Oleksii Mihulin, instructed Reuters.

About 70 km (44 miles) from Kharkiv on the Russian facet of the border, Russia additionally reported explosions on Sunday in Belgorod, which it mentioned killed no less than three folks and destroyed properties.

“The sound was so sturdy that I jumped up, I awoke, bought very scared and began screaming,” a Belgorod resident instructed Reuters, including the blasts occurred round 3 a.m. (0000 GMT).

Moscow has accused Kyiv of quite a few assaults on Belgorod and different areas bordering Ukraine. Kyiv has by no means claimed accountability for any of those incidents.

MILITARY BASE HIT

Ukraine mentioned its air power had flown some 15 sorties “in nearly all instructions of hostilities”, destroying tools and two ammunition depots.

In the Russian-occupied southern Ukrainian metropolis of Melitopol, Ukrainian forces hit a army logistics base with greater than 30 strikes on Sunday, town’s exiled mayor Ivan Fedorov mentioned. A Russian-installed official confirmed that strikes had hit town.

Reuters couldn’t independently confirm the battlefield stories.

Ukraine has repeatedly appealed for an acceleration in weapons provides from the West, saying its forces are closely outgunned.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Writing by Michael Perry; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)



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