‘Russians fully occupy Severodonetsk’: Mayor

Published on Jun 25, 2022 11:30 PM IST
  • The industrial hub of Severodonetsk has been the scene of weeks of running battles, but the Ukrainian army said on Friday that its outgunned forces would withdraw to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk.
A Ukrainian tank is in position during heavy fighting on the front line in Severodonetsk, the Luhansk region, Ukraine.(AP)
A Ukrainian tank is in position during heavy fighting on the front line in Severodonetsk, the Luhansk region, Ukraine.(AP)
Agencies |

Russia’s army has “fully occupied” the key Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk after weeks of fighting, its mayor said on Saturday, an important strategic win for Moscow as it seeks to gain full control over the east of the country.

The industrial hub of Severodonetsk has been the scene of weeks of running battles, but the Ukrainian army said on Friday that its outgunned forces would withdraw to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk. “The city has been fully occupied by the Russians,” mayor Oleksandr Striuk said on Saturday.

A few hours earlier, pro-Moscow separatists said Russian troops and their allies had entered Lysychansk, which faces Severodonetsk across the river. “Street fighting is currently taking place,” a representative of the separatists, Andrei Marochko, said on Telegram.

Also capturing Lysychansk would allow Russia to focus its attention on Kramatorsk and Slovyansk further west in its attempt to conquer the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland.

In another potentially significant development, Ukraine said it had come under “massive bombardment” early on Saturday morning from neighbouring Belarus, a Russian ally not officially involved in the conflict. Twenty rockets “fired from the territory of Belarus and from the air” targeted the village of Desna in the northern Chernigiv region, Ukraine’s northern military command said.

It said infrastructure was hit, but no casualties had yet been reported. “Today’s strike is directly linked to Kremlin efforts to pull Belarus as a co-belligerent into the war in Ukraine,” the Ukrainian intel service said.

On Saturday afternoon, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would send Belarus missiles able to carry nuclear warheads within months. “We will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” he said, as he met his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg.

Russian shelling damaged a nuclear research facility in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Saturday, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate said. Meanwhile, Russia said on Saturday its troops have killed “up to 80” Polish fighters in “precision strikes” in eastern Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden and his G7 counterparts will agree on an import ban on new gold from Russia as they broaden sanctions against Moscow for its war against Ukraine, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Saturday.

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