Russia intensifies attacks in eastern Ukraine after seizing Lugansk

Russian forces struck targets in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on Tuesday, a day after President Vladimir Putin declared victory in neighboring Luhansk region after months of a grueling war of attrition in which both sides lost many lives.
Donetsk and Luhansk make up the Donbass, the industrialized eastern part of Ukraine, where the biggest battles in Europe have been fought for generations.
Russia says it wants to wrest control of all of Donbas from Ukraine on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in two self-proclaimed people’s republics.

After Russian forces took control of Lysychansk on Sunday, the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk, Ukrainian officials said they now expect Moscow to focus its efforts, especially on the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk in Donetsk.


On Tuesday, Russian troops targeted a market and a residential area in Slovyansk, killing at least two people and injuring seven, local officials said.
A Reuters reporter at the scene saw yellow smoke billowing from an auto parts store and flames engulfing rows of market stalls as firefighters tried to put out the blaze.
“The Russians are again purposefully shelling areas where civilians gather,” Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavel Kirilenko wrote on Facebook. “This is pure terrorism.”
Earlier, Mr. Kirilenko said that Slavyansk and nearby Kramatorsk came under heavy shelling overnight.

“Now they are also the main direction of the enemy’s offensive,” he said.

“There is no safe place in the Donetsk region without shelling.”

Farewell ceremony for the dead Ukrainian soldiers in Lviv

People attend the funeral service for 44-year-old Hero Andrei Banakh and 45-year-old Hero Oleg Vorobyov, who died in battle with Russian troops in the Luhansk region, at a church in Lvov, Ukraine, June 28, 2022. Source: Anadolu / Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

How long was ahead?

The Russian Defense Ministry, which says it does not target residential areas, said it used precision-guided weapons to destroy command posts and artillery in Donetsk, where Ukraine still controls some major cities.
Moscow stepped up its military rhetoric with Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin saying that Ukraine has become a “terrorist state” that is doing everything to prevent Russia from stopping its invasion of the borders of Donbass.
Remarks by the chairman of the lower house of parliament suggest that Russia may wish to expand its stated military objectives by abandoning an offensive against the capital Kyiv and second-largest city Kharkiv in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance at the start of the conflict.

In another sign that Russia is preparing for a long war, the Duma passed on first reading two bills that would allow the government to oblige firms to supply the military and force personnel to work overtime to support an invasion.

Putin has ordered troops involved in the capture of Luhansk, who will also be involved in any attempt to capture towns in Donetsk, “to rest and restore their combat readiness” while units in other parts of Ukraine continue to fight.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told President Volodymyr Zelensky during a telephone call that he believes the Ukrainian military can take back territory recently captured by Russia.
The spokesman said Johnson briefed Zelensky on the latest shipments of British military equipment, including 10 self-propelled artillery mounts and loitering ammunition, to arrive in the coming days and weeks.
Mr. Zelensky’s adviser Alexei Arestovich said Russia’s takeover of Lisichansk and Sevrodonetsk — two medium-sized towns in Lugansk that are now mostly in ruins — cost Moscow a large human and financial cost and took 90 days.

“This is Russia’s last victory on Ukrainian soil,” Arestovich said in an online video.


This photograph, taken July 5, 2022, shows an anatomical skull in the classroom of a lyceum building allegedly destroyed by a missile attack in the Kharkiv region during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Source: Getty / SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images

“Huge cost”

Some military experts believed that Russia’s victory in Luhansk did not bring strategic benefits to its troops, and the outcome of the war remained in balance.
“This is a tactical victory for Russia, but it came at a cost,” said Neil Melvin of London-based think tank RUSI.
According to Melvin, the decisive battle for Ukraine is likely to take place not in the east, where Russia strikes the main blow, but in the south, where Kyiv launched a counteroffensive to recapture the territory around the city of Kherson.

Ukrainian air defenses intercepted and destroyed three missiles fired by the Russian Air Force on Tuesday at the Ukrainian ports of Ochakov and Chernomorsk in the western Black Sea, Odesa regional administration spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said.


Earlier, Russian missiles hit Nikolaev, a southern city on the main highway between Kherson and Odessa, according to its mayor Alexander Senkevich. Reuters was unable to independently verify these reports.
The Russian invasion has resulted in thousands of deaths, millions of displaced people and the destruction of cities, especially in Russian-speaking areas in eastern and southeastern Ukraine.

It also pushed up global energy and food prices and raised fears of starvation in poorer countries, as Ukraine and Russia are major grain producers.


Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Emine Dzhaparova said: “If the Russian blockade of the Ukrainian ports of Odessa and Nikolaev continues, millions of tons of food could rot in bunkers, and tens of millions of people in Africa and Asia could starve.” .
According to official documents, Ukraine has asked Turkey to help investigate three Russian-flagged vessels as part of Kyiv’s efforts to investigate what it says is grain theft from Russian-occupied territory. Russia denies stealing Ukrainian grain.
Kyiv and the West say Russia is conducting an unprovoked imperial-style land grab in the former Soviet republic and accuse Moscow of war crimes.

Moscow denies this, calling its actions a “special military operation” to degrade the Ukrainian armed forces, root out nationalists and protect Russian speakers.