The Ukrainian army on Sunday confirmed its withdrawal from Lysychansk, a key city in eastern Ukraine whose conquest had been announced shortly before by Moscow, which claims to control the entire Lugansk province.
"In order to preserve the lives of the Ukrainian defenders, the decision was made to withdraw" of the city, said the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces in a statement.
given "the conditions of multiple superiority of the Russian troops in artillery, air force, missile launchers, ammunition and personnel, continuing the defense of the city would have had fatal consequences"add the document.
In the morning, the Russian Ministry of Defense, quoted by Russian news agencies, announced that the army and its separatist allies had taken "full control of Lysychansk and other nearby towns, including Belogorovka, Novodroujesk, Maloriazantsevo and Belaya Gora".
Russian Defense Minister "Sergei Shoigu informed the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces, Vladimir Putin, of the liberation of the Lugansk People’s Republic"after the capture of Lysychansk, indicated a statement.
After weeks of fighting, the conquest of Lysychansk, which before the war had 95,000 inhabitants, allowed Russian troops to advance towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, further west, practically assuring control of the Donbas region, partially in the hands of pro-Russian separatists. since 2014.
The mayor of Sloviansk already reported the heaviest bombing on Sunday "in a while".
In his speech on Sunday night, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky said that a nine-year-old boy was among the six fatalities in Sloviansk, where the wounded amount to 20. "The Russian army brutally bombs again" the city, as well as Kramatorsk and Kharkov, he said.
Zelensky pointed out that the Ukrainian troops could return to the town in the future.
"If the command of our army withdraws troops from certain points on the front where the enemy has fire advantage — and this applies in particular to Lysychansk — it only means one thing: that we will return"said.
"The city is on fire"
The Ukrainian president acknowledged the advance of Russian troops in Donbas, but stressed that kyiv was "progressively advancing, both in the Kharkov (northeast) and Kherson (south) regions, as well as in the sea (…)".
"A day will come when we will say the same about Donbas"assured.
On Sunday morning, the governor of the Lugansk region, Sergei Gaidai, had indicated, referring to Lysychansk, that "The city is on fire". According to him, the Russian assault was much more violent than the one carried out against the city of Severodonetsk, separated from Lysychansk by the Donets River and which the Russians have controlled since the end of June.
The Russian army also claimed to have shot down, at dawn, three Ukrainian missiles launched against the city of Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine, where a local official had announced the death of at least three people after explosions.
Since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine on February 24, the Russian government has repeatedly accused Ukrainian forces of carrying out attacks on Russian soil, especially in the Belgorod region.
The Ukrainian forces seem to want to have a defense line between this city and Bakhmut to protect Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, which have a high symbolic value.
"shots from everywhere"
Siversk, about 20 kilometers west of Lysychansk, was shelled overnight, residents and a local official told AFP on Sunday. "It was intense and shot from all sides"A woman sheltering in a basement told AFP.
"For a week, the bombardments against the city have intensified, especially in recent days, with heavy artillery"Ruslan Bondarevskiy, deputy mayor, told AFP as Red Cross humanitarian aid boxes were distributed to residents at City Hall.
In Kramatorsk, the administrative center of Ukraine-controlled Donbas, a Smertch rocket hit a residential area without causing injuries, according to the mayor, Oleksandr Goncharenko.
In Kharkov, the second largest city in Ukraine, in the northeast, the inhabitants woke up again at 4 in the morning "by Russian rocket attacks"according to the governor of the region, Oleg Sinegubov.
On the southern front, the Ukrainian regional operational command said that within 24 hours the Russian army had carried out "nine air strikes with K-52 helicopter gunships and two bombardments on Serpent Island"recaptured on Wednesday by the kyiv forces in the Black Sea.
In an interview with German television ARD, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that a "unconditional capitulation [por parte de Ucrania, como exige Putin] or an imposed peace [a Ucrania] were not acceptable".
"When I talk to Putin, I always tell him: keep in mind that the sanctions that we [la Unión Europea] we are imposing on Russia right now will remain"he added.
"The idea of a peace that would be imposed is absurd, it should rather concentrate its efforts on reaching a fair agreement with Ukraine"he warned.