As fighting intensifies for Lysychansk, Zelensky’s aid admits key eastern Ukraine city could fall

Kyiv Edited By: C KrishnasaiUpdated: Jul 03, 2022, 09:28 AM IST


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Competing claims are emerging with both Russian and Ukrainian forces saying they are in control of  Lysychansk,

Lysychansk, Ukraine's last big bastion in the strategic eastern province of Luhansk, is in the midst of an intense battle as both the Ukraine and Russian forces are locked in a stand-off to lay claim to the strategic eastern city.

Russian forces have already captured Lysychansk's sister city Severodonetsk on the opposite side of the Siverskiy Donets river last week, after some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

Andrei Marochko, an officer of the pro-Russian Luhansk People’s Militia, was quoted by Russia’s TASS news agency on Saturday as saying that the militia’s red hammer-and-sickle flag was now flying over the administrative building in Lysychansk.

However, Ukraine’s military rejected claims that the city was encircled. But an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky admitted that the city could fall.

Lysychansk’s capture can be a major shot in the arm for the Russian forces as it tries to push deeper into the Donbas region, which has become the focus of their offensive since failing to capture Kyiv.

Rodion Miroshnik, ambassador to Russia of the pro-Moscow self-styled Luhansk People's Republic, told a Russian television, “Lysychansk has been brought under control," but added, "Unfortunately, it is not yet liberated."

Russian media showed video of Luhansk militia parading in Lysychansk streets waving flags and cheering, but Ukraine National Guard spokesman Ruslan Muzychuk told Ukrainian television the city remained in Ukrainian hands, reports AFP.

In another development, railway tracks and electricity lines in the northern city of Kharkiv were damaged in a series of attacks. No casualties were reported, reports BBC.

The southern city of Mykolaiv - on a key route to the port city of Odesa - was shaken by several explosions.

The Russian defence ministry said its air force had destroyed five Ukrainian command posts and several ammunition dumps, but that claim has not been independently verified.

(With inputs from agencies)