Russians rush assault on eastern Ukrainian town

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces are pounding the town of Lysychansk and surrounding areas in an all-out attempt to seize the last stronghold of resistance in eastern Ukraine’s Lugansk province, Ukraine said on Saturday. the governor.

Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend the city and prevent it from falling to Russia, as neighboring Sievierodonetsk did a week ago. Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces had taken control of an oil refinery on the outskirts of Lysychansk in recent days, but Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai reported on Friday that fighting for the facility is escalating. were continuing.

« Over the past day, the occupiers have opened fire with every type of weapon available, » Haidai said on the Telegram messaging app on Saturday.

Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk are the two provinces that make up the Donbass region, where Russia has focused its offensive since pulling out of northern Ukraine and the capital, Kyiv, in the spring.

Pro-Russian separatists have held parts of both provinces since 2014, and Moscow recognizes all of Luhansk and Donetsk as sovereign republics. The Syrian government said on Wednesday it would also recognize the « independence and sovereignty » of the two regions and strive to establish diplomatic relations with the separatists.

In Sloviansk, a major city in Donetsk still under Ukrainian control, four people died when Russian forces fired cluster munitions on Friday night, Mayor Vadym Lyakh said on Facebook. He said the affected neighborhoods did not contain any potential military targets.

Elsewhere, investigators searched for wreckage from a Russian airstrike early Friday on residential areas near the Ukrainian port of Odessa that killed 21 people.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said three anti-ship missiles hit a building in the small town of Serhiivka. Victims of Friday’s attack also included four family members at a coastal campsite which was also hit, he said.

« I insist that this is deliberate direct Russian terror, not a mistake or an accidental missile strike, » Zelenskyy said.

The Kremlin has repeatedly claimed that the Russian military is targeting fuel storage sites and military installations, not residential areas.

Ukrainian authorities interpreted the missile attack as a reward for the withdrawal of Russian troops from a neighboring Black Sea island with both symbolic and strategic significance in the war that began with the invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine by Russia on February 24.

Moscow described their departure from Snake Island as a « goodwill gesture » to help unblock grain exports.


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Maria Grazia Murru, Associated Press


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