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Another Ukraine City falls, placing the Eastern Region under Putin's conrol?

The story claims this illustrates how the "tide of the war has changed since March". Really? Don't think so. This has been going Putin's way for a long time.

Russia Claims Control of Luhansk as Ukrainian Forces Retreat From Lysychansk

Moscow blames Ukraine for morning attacks, including a deadly cross-border strike in Belgorod

By Ann M. Simmons in Moscow and Ian Lovett in London, WSJ

July 3, 2022 8:33 am ET

Russian forces have captured Lysychansk, the last major Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk, effectively placing under Russian control the eastern region at the epicenter of the war in recent months.

Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, told President Vladimir Putin on Sunday that Russian forces, together with militia from the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, had established full control over Luhansk, Russia’s Ministry of Defense reported.

A Ukrainian official confirmed that their troops were withdrawing from Lysychansk to avoid being surrounded.

Russia’s declared capture of Luhansk, after months of grueling battle, signals a victory for Moscow and demonstrates how the tide of the war has shifted since March.

After failing to take Kyiv in the first month of the invasion and pulling out of central Ukraine, Russian forces have concentrated on taking the eastern Donbas area, which comprises Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk.

Russian defense officials said the total area captured in recent days was 182 square kilometers, around 70 square miles. Russia would likely next push toward Siversk, Slovyansk and Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

Still, Russian progress in Donbas has been slow and has come at enormous cost. Though Moscow put forces in other regions into a defensive posture to concentrate on taking Donbas, it still took months to establish full control of Luhansk.

“They are suffering significant losses, but they are stubbornly advancing,” Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk, wrote on Telegram Sunday. He disputed the claim that Russia had complete control of Luhansk, saying that a Russian attack on Bilohorivka, a small settlement a few miles from Lysychansk, had been repulsed.

The Ukrainian forces’ retreat from Lysychansk is in line with the strategy they have adopted in recent weeks of holding on as long as possible in the hopes of bleeding Russian forces, then carrying out fighting withdrawals.

Mr. Haidai said the assault on Lysychansk had been even more brutal than the weekslong battle for Severodonetsk, which left that city almost entirely destroyed.

“If in Severodonetsk there were surviving houses and administrative buildings during a month of street fighting, then in Lysychansk the same administrative buildings were completely destroyed in a short period of time,” Mr. Haidai wrote on Telegram on Sunday.

The announcement of the capture of Lysychansk came as Russia blamed Ukraine for several strikes early Sunday morning, including one deadly attack across the border.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Ukrainian forces had carried out a deliberate strike using Tochka-U ballistic missiles with cluster munitions and drones on residential areas in Russia’s western regions of Belgorod and Kursk.

Gen. Konashenkov told a briefing that Russian air defenses shot down two Ukrainian drones that were aiming to strike Kursk before they could inflict any casualties.

Russian air-defense systems also destroyed three Tochka-U ballistic missiles with cluster warheads that he said were launched at residential areas of Belgorod. Wreckage of one of the missiles fell on a residential building in the city, he said.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, Belgorod’s governor, said at least four people were killed.

Some 50 buildings were damaged, including apartment blocks and private residential homes, of which five were partially destroyed, Mr. Gladkov said.

Belgorod, which sits less than 20 miles from Ukraine’s war-ravaged city of Kharkiv, has been the site of sporadic strikes in recent months, including on a fuel depot.

Roman Starovoit, Kursk’s governor, accused Ukraine of launching the attack on his city as “an attempt to intimidate the civilian population,” he wrote on Telegram. He posted photos on Telegram of the wreckage of what he said were the downed drones.

Ukrainian officials didn’t immediately comment on the strikes in Belgorod and Kursk. In the past, they have denied responsibility for attacks in Russian territory, including the April blast at the Belgorod oil depot.

The incidents followed Saturday’s strike by Russian forces that killed four people and injured seven in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk, an assault that Ukrainian officials say is part of a new Russian strategy to terrorize the country into submission.

“The Russian army continued to fire missiles at our cities,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message late Saturday night. “As of the evening alone, there have already been six missile strikes, a total of 12 missiles.”

Russia has denied that it intentionally targets civilian infrastructure and has accused Kyiv of placing potential military targets in or near residential areas.

Also on Sunday, Alexei Selivanov, deputy head of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Russian-controlled parts of southeastern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, reported a nighttime strike on the city of Melitopol.

Mr. Selivanov claimed that the attack was carried out with long-range multiple-launch rocket systems supplied to Ukraine by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“This is evidenced by the nature of the shelling,” he wrote on Telegram. “The use of foreign weapons in civilian cities makes the U.S. and NATO accomplices in a terrorist war.”

Ukrainian officials didn’t directly comment on the strike Sunday morning, though Mr. Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces “continue to put pressure in the south of our country.” No casualties were reported.

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