[ODUNEWS] June 27 – Regional authorities have urged civilians to urgently evacuate the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk which is being attacked by Russian forces.
“The situation in the city is very difficult,” Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region which includes Lysychansk, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Lysychansk is the last major city still held by Ukrainian troops in Luhansk province. Luhansk and neighbouring Donetsk make up Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region – the country’s industrial heartland.
Russian forces are moving to capture the city, with Moscow-backed separatists saying they were advancing on multiple fronts.
In a victory for the Kremlin’s campaign, Lysychansk’s twin city of Sievierodonetsk, the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting, fell to pro-Russian forces on Saturday.
Russian missiles also struck Kyiv for the first time in weeks yesterday, attacks condemned by US President Joe Biden as “barbarism“.
Russia’s Tass news agency yesterday quoted a separatist official as saying Moscow’s forces had entered Lysychansk from five directions and were isolating Ukrainian defenders. Reuters could not confirm the report.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said Russian forces were using artillery to try to cut off Lysychansk from the south but made no mention of separatists entering the city.
Russian assault aircraft struck near Lysychansk, the general staff added in its update this morning.
The RIA agency quoted a separatist official as saying separatist forces had evacuated more than 250 people, including children, on Sunday from Sievierodonetsk’s Azot chemical plant.
The industrial area was the last part of Sievierodonetsk held by Ukrainian forces before they withdrew.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said missiles also struck the central city of Cherkasy on Sunday, hitting a strategic bridge linking western Ukraine and the eastern battlefields.
“They are trying to limit the transfer of our reserves and Western weapons to the east,” he said.
Odessa regional administration spokesperson Serhiy Bratchuk said a missile strike in the Odessa region, in southern Ukraine, had destroyed residential buildings and caused a fire. Six people were injured including a child, he added.
Reuters was not able to immediately confirm the details of the report. Russia denies targeting civilians.
Ukraine needs a modern air defence system to deter Russian missiles, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an evening address, after missiles earlier struck an apartment block and close to a kindergarten in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
“Partners need to move faster if they are really partners, not observers. Delays with the weapons transfer to our state, any restrictions – this is actually an invitation for Russia to hit again and again,” he added.
The United States is likely to announce this week the purchase of an advanced medium-to-long-range surface-to-air missile defence system for Ukraine, a source familiar with the matter said.