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Russia claims to occupy a central city in eastern Ukraine

Ukraine, Kyiv — Russia's defense minister is the last major Russian armyThe Ukrainian cityin Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine, which said it took control on Sunday, is approaching the goal of occupying the entire Donbas region of Ukraine.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that the Russian army, along with members of the local separatist militia, "fully controls the city of Lysychansik."

Taking Lysychansik constitutes one of Ukraine's two separatist regions, which Russia recognizes as sovereign, the "Liberation of the People's Republic of Luhansk," the statement said.

Ukrainian fighters protect Lysychans'k and not fall into Russia, as the neighboring Sieviero Donetsk did a week ago. Spent a few weeks to do. The presidential adviser predicted late Saturday that the fate of the city could be decided within a few days.

Ukrainian authorities did not immediately provide up-to-date information on the situation.

Last Sunday, Governor Luhansk said Russian troops were strengthening their position in a tough battle to occupy the state's last stand.

"The occupiers put all their energy into Lysychans'k. They attacked the city with incomprehensible and cruel tactics," Luhansk Governor Selhi Heidai said in a Telegram messaging app. "They are suffering great losses, but they are making stubborn progress. They are building a foothold in the city."

Russia Ukraine War
This photo, provided by the military government in the Luhansk region, shows a damaged house in Lysychans'k, Ukraine, at the beginning of Sunday, July 3, 2022. .. Military regime in the Luhansk region via AP

A river separates Lysychans'k and Sieviero Donetsk. Oleksiy Aresevich, an adviser to the President of Ukraine, said in an online interview late Saturday that Russian troops crossed the river from the north for the first time, creating a "threat" situation.

Arrestvic said they had not reached the center of the city, but the process of the battle showed that the battle of Lysychans'k would be decided by Monday.

Donetsk, adjacent to Luhansk, is the two provinces that make up Donbus, and Russia has been concentrating on its attacks since its withdrawal from northern Ukraine and the capital Kyiv in the spring.

Pro-Russian separatists have held parts of both eastern states since 2014, and Moscow recognizes all of Luhansk and Donetsk as sovereign republics. The Syrian government announced on Wednesday that it would also recognize "independence and sovereignty" in the two regions.

The occupation of Lysychans'k will pave the way for Russians to move west to Donetsk Oblast. There, since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the Ukrainian-controlled metropolis Slovyansk has been hit by rockets several times.

Elsewhere in the war, the exiled mayor of the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol said on Sunday that a Ukrainian rocket destroyed one of the city's four Russian military bases.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Ukraine also launched missile and drone attacks in the cities of Kursk and Belgorod in western Russia, but aerial weapons were shot down. Roman Starovoyt, the governor of the Kursk region, said the town of Tetkino on the border with Ukraine was attacked by mortars.

Adjacent Belarusian leader, Russia's ally, claimed on Saturday that Ukraine launched missiles on military targets on Belarus' territory a few days ago, all of which were intercepted by air defense systems. President Alexander Lukaschenko described the alleged strike as a provocation and said Belarusian soldiers were not fighting in Ukraine.

There was no immediate response from the Ukrainian army.

Belarus hosted Russian troops and was used as the stage for the Russian invasion. Last week, a few hours before Lukaschenko met Russian President Vladimir Putin, a Russian long-range bomber launched its first missile from Belarus' airspace into Ukraine.

Lukaschenko has resisted efforts to bring his army into war. However, during the meeting, Putin announced plans for Russia to supply Belarus with the Iskander-M missile system, reminding Lukaschenko that his government relies on financial support from Russia.

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