War in Ukraine: five important events of Sunday

Russian troops took control of Lisichansk

On Sunday, Russia claimed control of the last Ukrainian stronghold in the eastern province, key to achieving the main goal of its hard-fought war.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff reported that its forces had withdrawn from Lysichansk in the Luhansk region, but the president said fighting for the city was continuing.

If confirmed, Russia’s complete takeover of Lugansk would give its forces a stronger base from which to advance into neighboring Donetsk Oblast and bring them one step closer to achieving one of President Vladimir Putin’s main goals: capturing the entire Donbas.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin that Russian troops with members of the local separatist militias “have taken full control of the city of Lisichansk” and are now holding all of Luhansk, according to a ministry statement released Sunday.

As is common with such descriptions, the Russian statement described the victories as “the liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic.” Separatists in Luhansk and Donetsk, which make up the Donbass and have a significant Russian-speaking population, declared independence from Kyiv in 2014, and Russia formally recognized their self-proclaimed republics days before the February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian and Russian forces have fought hard in recent days for Lysichansk after neighboring Severodentsk fell last week. On Sunday evening, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine confirmed on social media that its forces had withdrawn from Lysychansk “to save the lives of Ukrainian defenders.”

2. Australian Prime Minister visits Ukraine and promises more military assistance

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged on Sunday to increase military support for Ukraine, including the supply of new armored vehicles, during the Australian prime minister’s first trip to Kyiv.

“Australia will announce an additional $100 million in military support today, bringing our total support to almost $390 million,” he said at a briefing with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. He did not confirm whether he meant Australian dollars or US dollars.

Anthony Albanese said Canberra would provide “14 more armored personnel carriers and 20 more Bushmaster tanks” as well as drones and assistance to Ukrainian border guards.

He added that Canberra planned to impose new economic sanctions on Russia, as well as “travel bans for an additional 16 ministers and oligarchs, bringing the total number of individuals covered by Australia to 843 and 62 entities.”

“We will ban Russian gold imports to reduce Russia’s ability to finance its war,” he said, adding that he was “honored to be the first Australian prime minister to visit Ukraine.”

Premier Albanese visited Bucha, Irpen and Gostomel on the outskirts of Kyiv, which became symbols of the atrocities of the war. “Obviously, in this immoral and illegal war, Russian forces have targeted civilian areas,” he said.

Mr. Albanese also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin would receive a “well-deserved welcome” if he attended the November G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.

President Zelensky praised Australia’s “significant assistance, especially in the defense area.”

Rocket attack on eastern Ukrainian city kills 6, wounds 15

The mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk said Sunday’s rocket attack “killed six people and injured 15.”

“The preliminary death toll from today’s shooting is six people, 15 injured. There is a child among the dead,” Vadim Lyakh said on Facebook, confirming earlier reports.

According to him, several areas of the city, which had a population of about 100,000 before the war, were affected.

“Multiple rocket attacks on Slavyansk, the largest in a long time. Fifteen fires. Many dead and wounded,” he initially stated in a video posted on Facebook.

Tetyana Ignatchenko, a spokeswoman for the Donetsk region, to which Slovyansk belongs, repeated the authorities’ call for residents to leave the region, despite the fact that the front line is only a few kilometers from Slovyansk.

According to Ukrainian media, one of the city markets caught fire as a result of the strike.

To the south, the city of Kramatorsk, the administrative center of Ukraine-controlled Donbas, has been hit by Smerch missiles for the second day in a row, according to the mayor of the city, Alexander Goncharenko.

According to him, as a result of attacks on a residential area and an unoccupied hotel, no one was injured.

Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, two cities of great symbolic importance, are under direct threat from Russian forces, especially if the further northeast Lysichansk claimed by Russia on Sunday is confirmed by Kyiv, which says fighting continues there. .

Moscow accused Ukraine of shelling Belgorod

The Russian military said early Sunday it shot down three Ukrainian rockets fired at the city of Belgorod, near Ukraine, where a local official had previously said the blasts had killed at least four people.

“Russian air defense systems shot down three Tochka-U cluster munitions fired by Ukrainian nationalists at Belgorod,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a daily briefing.

“After the Ukrainian missiles were destroyed, fragments of one of them fell on a residential building in the city,” he continued.

He said the Russian military also shot down two Ukrainian TU-143 drones “laden with explosives” and headed for the city of Kursk, also close to the border with Ukraine.

In a video released on Sunday afternoon, Belgorod Region Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said at least four people were killed and four injured in the explosions in Belgorod.

Earlier, he said that on five streets affected by explosions in the north of Belgorod, not far from the city center, 11 residential buildings and 39 houses were damaged.

Since the beginning of the Kremlin offensive in Ukraine on February 24, Russia has repeatedly accused Ukrainian forces of carrying out strikes on Russian territory, especially in the Belgorod region.

5. Ukrainians destroy the Russian base in Melitopol

The Ukrainian military “decommissioned” a Russian military base in the southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol on Saturday evening, its exiled mayor said.

“Today, the Ukrainian military disabled one of the Russian military bases” in the city, Ivan Fedorov said in a video posted on Telegram.

“At 03:00 and 05:00, 30 strikes were carried out exclusively on the military base,” he added, noting that “the city of Melitopol is shrouded in smoke” and that “this has been going on for several hours because of the depot that was at the base is on fire “.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian General Staff said on Sunday morning that the Ukrainian Air Force made about 15 sorties, in particular in the Zaporozhye region, which Melitopol belongs to, and that “about 20 pieces of enemy equipment and two ammunition depots” were destroyed. .

The head of the pro-Russian administration of the region, Yevgeny Balitsky, said on Telegram that the houses near the base were damaged and that “shells fell on the territory of the airfield,” while assuring that “there were no casualties.”

Ukrainian media published several videos from social networks, which show a huge column of smoke rising into the air near Melitopol.

Melitopol was conquered by Russian forces in the early days of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, and a pro-Russian administration was quickly established there.