Russia has captured the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk, granting it full control of the eastern Luhansk region, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu has told President Vladimir Putin according to the Interfax news agency.
After being beaten back in its initial attempt to capture the capital Kyiv, Russia has focused its efforts on driving Ukrainian forces out of Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the east of the country, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Kyiv since Russia's first military intervention in Ukraine in 2014.
The Ukrainian military governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Hajdaj, confirmed on his Telegram channel that Russian troops had “gained a foothold in the Lysychansk district.” It is unclear whether Ukrainian units remain in the city.
On Saturday, the pro-Russian separatists had already announced the capture of Lysychansk, to which Kyiv replied that the strategically important city was still under its own control. Lysychansk was the last large Ukrainian-controlled town in the Luhansk region after the fall of Severodonetsk.
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Meanwhile, both a Russian official and the city's mayor confirmed that strikes had hit the southeastern city of Melitopol.
“At 3 o’clock and 5 o’clock, there were over 30 strikes exclusively on a military base,” Mayor Ivan Fedorov, who is currently in Ukraine-controlled territory, said in a video address on Telegram, adding that the base had been “taken out of action.”
Fedorov also said that resistance activity had caused a Russian armored train carrying ammunition to derail on Saturday near Melitopol.
Russia’s RIA news agency reported that Ukraine had hit the Aviamistechko area of Melitopol where the city’s airport is located, but did not specify what had been hit.
RIA cited local Russian-appointed official Vladimir Rogov as saying that around 16 to 18 Ukrainian MLRS rockets had hit Melitopol in two strikes at 3 A.M. and 4:45 A.M. Moscow time. Reuters was not able to verify the reports.