Russia today took the city of Lisichansk and with it the entire eastern region of Lugansk. In addition, the Ukrainian army has announced that its soldiers have withdrawn from this key town in eastern Ukraine, which had been under assault by Russian troops for weeks.

“To preserve the lives of the Ukrainian defenders, the decision was made to withdraw” from the city, said the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces, noting the “multiple superiority” of the Russian army in the material plane.

After 130 days of war, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Russian President Vladimir Putin “of the liberation of the Lugansk People’s Republic”, recognized as independent by the Kremlin three days before launching his military campaign in Ukraine, on February 24, said that department.

Shoigu made this announcement after assuring that Lisichansk had fallen after Russian troops entered the city and closed the siege around the city.

The defense minister told Putin that “as a result of successful military operations, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, together with units of the People’s Militia of the Luhansk People’s Republic, have established full control over the city of Lisichansk and a number of nearby towns (…)”.

Lisichansk is the twin city of Severodonetsk, from which Ukrainian forces withdrew a week ago and which took more than a month for Russian troops to capture.

The head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, Leonid Paséchnik, wrote on Telegram that this day will be marked in red on the calendar “of our homeland” after having “fought for this for eight years” – since the conflict between the Army Ukrainian and separatist forces in Donbas.

“This party, as in the distant 1945 (with the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany), also makes us cry with happiness (…),” he said.

Shoigu’s announcement came an hour after his spokesman assured in his war report that Russian troops and pro-Russian units were “fighting inside Lisichansk and finishing off the defeat of the surrounded enemy.”

On Saturday, the forces of the pro-Russian Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, other Russian and separatist military units from Lugansk entered the city, from which they recorded and broadcast several videos, one of which with the flags waving in front of the Lisichansk administrative building.

The US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said today that geolocated images showed Russian forces “walking through the northern and southeastern neighborhoods of Lisichansk in a manner that suggests there are few or no Ukrainian forces left.” in the city since yesterday.

Only early this Sunday, the governor of Lugansk, Serhiy Gaidai, admitted that the Russians had established positions in the Lisichansk district and were “gaining ground in the city.”

However, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, maintained in a press conference with the Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, that it cannot be said definitively that Lisichansk is under Russian control or that the entire region has been taken.

“There are battles on the outskirts of Lisichansk and our task is to gain fire advantage. Accelerating the supply of weapons would give us such an opportunity…,” he said. He affirmed that “there is a risk” that the entire province will fall, but stressed that “the situation can change every day.”

Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Yuriy Sak also denied that Russia had achieved “full control” of Lisichansk, although he hinted that soldiers may have withdrawn from the town to other positions.

“For Ukrainians, the value of human life is a top priority, so sometimes we can withdraw from certain areas in order to retake them in the future,” he told the BBC.

And the battle for the entire Donbas region, also made up of the neighboring Donetsk region, “is not over yet,” he said.

As the governor of the province, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said at the end of June, kyiv still controls 45% of the territory.

Large Ukrainian-controlled cities have been “the target of several missile attacks and artillery shelling in recent days,” Sak said.

This same Sunday in a Russian attack in Sloviansk -along with Kramatorsk the main Ukrainian stronghold in the Donetsk region-, at least six people died and another 15 were injured, according to Tetyana Ignatchenko, spokesman for the regional administration.

The city’s mayor, Vadym Lyakh, wrote on his Facebook account that it was the “biggest mass bombing in recent times” against Sloviansk.

In Kramatorsk, kyiv’s military center in the province, Kyrylenko today denounced three Smerch missile attacks on the city.

As indicated on his Telegram channel, one of the missiles destroyed a hotel and a residential complex and the other two fell on the street in a residential area.

According to data provided by the governor today, since the Russian invasion began, shelling in the Donetsk region has killed 554 civilians and injured 1,442 others, although the number of casualties in Mariupol is unknown. where the mayor has calculated the number of deaths at about 20,000.

Russia would now be on the administrative border with Donetsk after allegedly taking control of towns in neighboring Lugansk close to the border, such as Verkhniokamyanka, Zolotarivka and Bilhorivka.

The General Staff of Ukraine acknowledged today in its evening report only the loss of Zolotarivka.

Russia’s goal now is to push into Donetsk province from the west.

The ISW believes that Russian forces will now push towards Siversk, across the border and some 44 kilometers from Sloviansk.

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