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Zelenskiy vows to regain Lysychansk after Ukrainian withdrawal

World Jul 03, 2022 05:47PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. A view shows a destroyed tank during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the city of Sievierodonetsk in the Luhansk Region, Ukraine July 1, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko 2/2

By Tom Balmforth and Max Hunder

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday acknowledged Kyiv's forces had withdrawn from Lysychansk in the eastern Donbas region after a grinding Russian assault, but vowed to regain control over the area with the help of long-range Western weapons.

Russia said its capture of the city of Lysychansk less than a week after taking neighbouring Sievierdonetsk gave it full control of the eastern Luhansk region - a political win that meets a key Kremlin war goal. The battlefield focus now shifts to the neighbouring Donetsk region, where Kyiv still controls swathes of territory.

"If the commanders of our army withdraw people from certain points at the front, where the enemy has the greatest advantage in firepower, and this also applies to Lysychansk, it means only one thing," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

"That we will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons."

Zelenskiy said Russia was concentrating its firepower on the Donbas front, but Ukraine would hit back with long-range weapons such as the U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers.

"The fact that we protect the lives of our soldiers, our people, plays an equally important role. We will rebuild the walls, we will win back the land, and people must be protected above all else," Zelenskiy said.

Since abandoning an assault on the capital Kyiv, Russia has concentrated its military operation on the industrial Donbas heartland that comprises the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where Moscow-backed separatist proxies have been fighting Ukraine since 2014.

Russia says it is capturing Luhansk region in order to give it to the self-proclaimed Russian-backed Luhansk People's Republic whose independence it recognised on the eve of the war.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin that Luhansk had been "liberated", the defence ministry said, after Russia earlier said its forces had captured villages around Lysychansk and encircled the city.

Ukraine's military command said its forces had been forced to retreat from the city.

"The continuation of the defence of the city would lead to fatal consequences. In order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw," it said in a statement on social media.

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

West of Lysychansk in Donetsk region, at least six people were killed when the Ukrainian city of Sloviansk was hit by powerful shelling from multiple rocket launchers on Sunday, local officials said.

COSTLY CAMPAIGN

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

Russia says what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine aims to protect Russian speakers from nationalists. Ukraine and its Western allies say this is a baseless pretext for flagrant aggression that aims to seize territory.

While Russia would try to frame its advance in Luhansk as a significant moment in the war, it came at a high cost to Russia's military, said Neil Melvin of the London-based think tank RUSI.

"Ukraine's position was never that they could defend all of this. What they've been trying to do is to slow down the Russian assault and cause maximum damage, while they build up for a counteroffensive," he said.

KHARKIV STRIKES

Zelenskiy said Russia had "brutally" struck Kharkiv, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk with rocket attacks, leaving six dead and 20 wounded in Sloviansk alone.

Russia's defence ministry also said on Sunday it had struck the military infrastructure of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city in the northeast, where a Reuters reporter said Ukrainian forces had been building fortifications after nightly shelling.

Outside a school in Kharkiv, some residents threw debris into a large crater created by an early morning rocket strike while others got help repairing damaged houses.

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

About 70 km (44 miles) from Kharkiv on the Russian side of the border, Russia also reported explosions on Sunday in Belgorod, which it said killed at least three people and destroyed homes.

"The sound was so strong that I jumped up, I woke up, got very scared and started screaming," a Belgorod resident told Reuters, adding the blasts occurred around 3 a.m. (0000 GMT).

Moscow has accused Kyiv of numerous attacks on Belgorod and other areas bordering Ukraine. Kyiv has never claimed responsibility for any of these incidents.

MILITARY BASE HIT

Ukraine said its air force had flown some 15 sorties "in virtually all directions of hostilities", destroying equipment and two ammunition depots.

In the Russian-occupied southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, Ukrainian forces hit a military logistics base with more than 30 strikes on Sunday, the city's exiled mayor Ivan Fedorov said. A Russian-installed official confirmed that strikes had hit the city.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

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

Speaking on a visit to Kyiv, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government would provide Ukraine with additional armoured vehicles, as well as tightening sanctions against Russia.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told broadcaster ARD that Germany was discussing with its allies security guarantees for Ukraine after the war, though it was clear these would "not be the same as if someone were a member of NATO".

Zelenskiy vows to regain Lysychansk after Ukrainian withdrawal
 

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Comments (5)
Abc Xyz
Abc Xyz Jul 03, 2022 5:05PM ET
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Hahaha... Good! Let the pests wipe out each other.
Alpha Omega
Alpha Omega Jul 03, 2022 11:47AM ET
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I wonder if Russian families incriminate themselves by hanging MIA signs above or near the main door of their home, for the thousands Missing InAction.
Alpha Omega
Alpha Omega Jul 03, 2022 11:33AM ET
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It could mean 2 things; a) The Enemy Wants To Start War Ending Negotiations. 2) The Enemy Is Lying And it's Pure Propaganda....Most likely, b)
Lionel Laurent
Lionel Laurent Jul 03, 2022 9:40AM ET
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Vietnam Irak yousgolsavie,Salvador etccc c’est quoi pour vous
Benjamin USA
Benjamin USA Jul 03, 2022 12:33AM ET
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Terrorist russia
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Brad Albright
Brad Albright Jul 03, 2022 12:33AM ET
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Targeting civilians with ho mic idal violence.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Jul 03, 2022 12:33AM ET
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From the American perspective, the US special operation in Afghanistan was justified because we had been attacked on September 11, 2001 and the Taliban would not relinquish the person responsible. Many more Americans objected to the US invasion of Iraq, and we said so in public discourse, street demonstrations and at the ballot box. We wish moral Russians would now do the same. In any event, the US did not intentionally target civilian infrastructure, like hospitals, schools and shopping malls the way Russia is now.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Jul 03, 2022 12:33AM ET
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Is there an underlying principle to your observations? It seems to be either that bombing civilians is bad and should not happen, or that it is okay because it has been done before. Which is it?
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Jul 03, 2022 12:33AM ET
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140 countries have formally condemned Russia's invasion. Either 1) The world has turned upsidedown and suddenly the majority of civilized nations favor na zis or 2) You have been brainwashed.
Stanislav Ivanovskiy
Stanislav Ivanovskiy Jul 03, 2022 12:33AM ET
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Brad Albright our problem is that we basically bombing themselves, cuz we are closely relatedAt least u ****poor arabs and funding terrorists in other parts of the world :/
 
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