President Volodymyr Zelenskiy promised to retake the lost land when Ukraine’s military withdrew from the bombed-out city of Lysychansk. This prompted Russia to declare complete control over the eastern Luhansk region, a major Kremlin war objective.
On Sunday, Ukraine said that the tactical withdrawal would save the lives of its forces, who would regroup and use long-range Western weapons to mount a counteroffensive.
Moscow asserted that it had “liberated” Luhansk with the capture of Lysychansk less than a week after seizing neighbouring Sievierdonetsk. It declared that it would hand over Luhansk to the self-declared, supported by Russia, Luhansk People’s Republic, whose independence it had acknowledged on the eve of the conflict.
The battlefront now concentrates on the neighbouring Donetsk area, where Kyiv still retains significant territorial control.
Zelenskiy added in his nightly video on Sunday, “If the leaders of our army evacuate people from particular locations at the front, where the enemy has the greatest advantage in firepower, and this also applies to Lysychansk, it implies only one thing.”
That we will return because of our strategies and the increased availability of sophisticated weapons.
Zelenskiy claimed that while Russia was focusing its firepower on the Donbas front, Ukraine will retaliate with long-range weapons like the HIMARS rocket launchers provided by the US.
“It is equally critical that we safeguard the lives of our troops and citizens. People must be safeguarded above everything else, added Zelenskiy, and we will rebuild the walls and retake the territory.
Russia has focused its military effort on the industrial Donbas heartland, which includes the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where Moscow-backed separatist proxies have been battling Ukraine since 2014. Since abandoning an attack on the capital Kyiv, Russia has focused its military operation.
According to the Russian defence ministry, Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin that the city of Luhansk had been “liberated” after Russia had earlier claimed that its forces had taken villages near Lysychansk and encircled the city.
According to Ukraine’s military command, its men were compelled to leave the city.
“The prolongation of the city’s defence would have devastating repercussions. A decision was reached to withdraw in order to protect the lives of Ukrainian defenders, it claimed in a statement on social media.
Residents in residential areas have reported strong artillery barrages, according to Ukrainian officials who claim that allusions to “liberating” Ukrainian land are Russian propaganda.
At least six people were murdered when the Ukrainian city of Sloviansk was pounded by heavy fire from many rocket launchers on Sunday, according to local officials in the Lysychansk region of the Donetsk oblast.
Since Russia’s invasion on February 24, thousands of civilians have died and cities have been destroyed, and Kiev accuses Moscow of deliberately focusing on doing so. Putin disputes this.
In Ukraine, Russia claims to be conducting a “special military operation” with the goal of defending Russian speakers against nationalists.
This, according to Ukraine and its backers in the West, is merely an excuse for blatant territorial invasion.
Although Russia attempted to portray their advance in Luhansk as a pivotal milestone in the conflict, Neil Melvin of the London-based think tank RUSI noted that it came at a tremendous cost to Russia’s military.
“Ukraine never claimed to be able to defend all of this. In order to delay the Russian assault and inflict the most damage possible, they have been preparing for a counteroffensive, he explained.
According to Zelenskiy, Russia launched missile attacks on Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, and Sloviansk, leaving six people dead and 20 more injured in Sloviansk alone.
The second-largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv, is in the northeast. A Reuters reporter reported that Ukrainian forces had been constructing fortifications there as a result of nightly shelling. The Russian defence ministry also claimed on Sunday that it had attacked the military infrastructure of Kharkiv.
Some Kharkiv locals helped fix damaged homes while others dumped rubbish into a sizable hole left by an early morning rocket strike.
According to a local, Oleksii Mihulin, “The wife was fortunate that she woke up early in the morning because the roof dropped exactly where she had been lying.”
On the Russian side of the border, around 70 kilometres (44 miles) from Kharkiv, Russia also reported explosions on Sunday that it claimed killed at least three people and wrecked residences.
A resident in Belgorod told Reuters, “The sound was so strong that I leapt up, I woke up, felt quite afraid, and started screaming.” The resident added that the explosions happened at 3 a.m. (0000 GMT).
Moscow has charged Kiev with a slew of assaults on Belgorod and other Ukraine-bordering regions. Kiev has never accepted blame for any of these occurrences.
Military base hit
According to Ukraine, its air force carried out 15 flights “in nearly all directions of hostilities,” destroying two ammo depots and various pieces of equipment.
Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of Melitopol, a city in southern Ukraine that is seized by Russia, claimed that Ukrainian forces attacked a military supply base with over 30 strikes on Sunday. The presence of strikes in the city was confirmed by a Russian-installed authority.
The battlefield accounts could not be independently verified by Reuters.
Ukraine has frequently pleaded with the West to speed up the supply of weaponry, claiming that its forces are vastly outgunned.