Russian forces turn to Lysychansk in battle for eastern Ukraine
- Russian missiles hit Kyiv for the first time in weeks
- Biden condemns the attack as an act of “barbarism”
- G7 countries meet in Germany
KYIV/POKROVSK, Ukraine, June 27 (Reuters) – Russian forces were fighting to achieve one of their strategic objectives in Ukraine on Monday as Moscow-backed separatists said they entered Lysychansk, the last major city still held by Ukrainian troops in the east of the country. Luhansk province.
Lysychansk is the new focus of war after its twin city of Sievierodonetsk fell on Saturday in a victory in Moscow’s campaign to seize the eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk on behalf of pro-Russian separatists.
The Tass news agency quoted a separatist official on Sunday as saying that forces from Moscow had entered Lysychansk from five directions and were isolating the Ukrainian defenders. Reuters could not confirm the report.
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The Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said Russian forces were using artillery to try to cut off Lysychansk from the south, but made no mention of separatists entering the city.
Elena, an elderly woman from Lysychansk, was among dozens of evacuees who arrived in the Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk by bus from frontline areas.
“Lysychansk was horrible last week. Yesterday we couldn’t take it anymore,” she said. “I already told my husband that if I died, please bury me behind the house.”
RIA quoted a separatist official as saying separatist forces evacuated more than 250 people, including children, from the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk on Sunday.
The industrial zone was the last part of Sievierodonetsk held by Ukrainian forces before they withdrew on Saturday after weeks of heavy fighting left the city in ruins.
STRIKES IN kyiv
Russian missiles hit a building and near a kindergarten in Kyiv on Sunday as world leaders gathered in Germany to discuss new sanctions against Moscow.
Deputy Mayor Mykola Povoroznyk said one person was killed and six injured in the first Russian attack on the capital in weeks. Read more
In his evening speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said an injured seven-year-old girl had been pulled from the rubble of a nine-story building. The girl’s father was killed in the strike, he said.
“She was not threatened by anything in our country. She was completely safe, until Russia itself decided that everything was now equally hostile to them – women, children, kindergartens, houses, hospitals, railways,” Zelenskiy said.
A Ukrainian air force spokesman said the strike was carried out with four to six long-range missiles fired by Russian bombers more than 1,000 km (621 miles) into southern Russia .
US President Joe Biden called the strikes an act of “barbarism”, as G7 leaders gathered for a summit in Germany. Russia denies targeting civilians.
Other leaders of the G7 countries mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin as they gathered for a group photo at the start of the three-day summit. Read more
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested leaders bare their chests and “show them our pecs” in reference to Putin’s shirtless poses over the years, including on horseback.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “We’re going to have the bare-chested horseback riding show,” to which European Union President Ursula von der Leyen replied, “Oh yes. Horseback riding is the best. “
Britain, Canada, Japan and the United States have proposed a ban on gold imports from Russia, aimed at wealthy Russians buying safe-haven bullion to lessen the financial impact of Western sanctions. Read more
Leaders meeting in the Bavarian Alps are also expected to discuss a possible Russian oil price cap and efforts to tackle soaring global food and energy prices.
MISSILES FIRING DOWNTOWN
Russian missiles also hit the central city of Cherkasy on Sunday, which so far had been largely spared from shelling, authorities said, saying one person was killed and five others injured. Read more
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said the attack also hit a strategic bridge connecting western Ukraine and eastern battlefields.
“They are trying to limit the transfer of our Western reserves and weapons to the East,” he told Reuters.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it used high-precision weapons to strike military training centers in the Chernihiv, Zhytomyr and Lviv regions, an apparent reference to strikes reported by Ukraine on Saturday. There was no immediate comment on Sunday’s strikes on Kyiv or Cherkassy.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin called a “special military operation” to rid the country of far-right nationalists and ensure Russian security.
Kyiv and the West dismiss this as a baseless pretext for a war of choice that has killed thousands, sent millions fleeing Ukraine and destroyed cities.
The conflict has driven up gas, oil and food prices, prompted the European Union to reduce its dependence on Russian energy and prompted Finland and Sweden to seek membership in NATO.
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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Stephen Coates; Editing by Himani Sarkar
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