Russia claims ‘full control’ over Lysychansk after Zelensky adviser admits Putin’s army is ‘gaining a foothold’ in final Luhansk stronghold
- Crucial battle for Lysychansk ends in Russian victory: Moscow defence ministry
- Defence minister Shoigu informs Putin that all of Luhansk region now ‘liberated’
- Ukrainian army had admitted Putin’s forces were ‘gaining a foothold’ in the city
- News comes days after another key victory in neighbouring Severodonetsk
Russian forces and Moscow-backed separatists claimed ‘full control’ of Lysychansk, the last stronghold held by Ukrainian forces in eastern region Luhansk.
The apparent victory after a week of intense fighting means Russia now reigns over the key Donbas region.
Claiming that the Battle of Lysychansk had come to an end this morning, Moscow’s defence ministry said earlier today that it ‘encircled the Ukrainian enemy’ inside the city.
It stated: ‘Russian troops and units of the Luhansk People’s Republic are fighting inside Lysychansk, completely defeating the encircled enemy.’
Lysychansk is next to Severodonetsk, which Russian forces took days beforehand.
A bombed-out car sits alone on a rubble-littered road in Lysychansk, Luhansk region today
Russia’s claim suggests the eight-year battle to control the Luhansk region is finally over
A Ukrainian army handout shows a Russia-destroyed residential building in Lysychansk today
The Lysychansk palace of culture is bombed out and battle-scarred after a week of fighting
Before Russia’s announcement, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai wrote to followers on messaging app Telegram: ‘The occupiers threw all their forces on Lysychansk. They attacked the city with incomprehensibly cruel tactics
‘They suffer significant losses, but stubbornly advance. They are gaining a foothold in the city.’
President Zelensky spokesman Oleksiy Arestovych also suggested the battle was likely to be over by Monday.
A wrecked tank sits along the road between Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, Luhansk
Plumes of smoke were seen rising high above Lysychansk as Russia upped its forces days ago
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed he had told President Putin all of Luhansk was now ‘liberated’ from Ukrainian forces.
The Russian defense ministry added that it had struck military infrastructure in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, as well as a base used by foreign fighters on the outskirts of Mykolaiv in the country’s south.
Ukraine appeared to hit back overnight with a brief but fierce attack on Russian city Belgorod overnight, killing at least three people.
A man sits next to piles of battle damage outside his apartment building in Severodonetsk
Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov claimed several explosions hit the city of nearly 400,000, which lies 25 miles (40km) north of the border with Ukraine.
At least 11 apartment buildings and 39 houses were damaged, including five entirely destroyed, Gladkov said via messaging app Telegram.
‘The sound was so strong that I jumped up, I woke up, got very scared and started screaming,’ a resident of the city told Reuters.
They added that the blasts took place at around 3am (midnight GMT).
Belgorod, southern Russia was the scene of an apparent Ukrainian airstrike late last night
‘The missile hit residential buildings about 20 metres from my house,’ the resident said.
‘All the windows in our house were shattered, the doors came out of alignment.’
Senior Russian lawmaker Andrei Klishas accused Ukraine of shelling Belgorod and called for a stern response.