Fighting is raging for Ukraine's strategic Lysychansk as Kiev rejects a claim by Moscow-backed separatists that they have encircled the eastern city on the 129th day of the armed conflict.

More than 4,700 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, while over 14 million have been forced to leave their homes, including more than 7.7 million people have fled to other countries.
More than 4,700 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, while over 14 million have been forced to leave their homes, including more than 7.7 million people have fled to other countries. (AFP)

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Moscow-backed separatists claim to 'encircle' key city, Ukraine denies

Kiev has denied a claim by Moscow-backed separatists that they have encircled an eastern city. Clashes have been intense in Lysychansk, the last major city in the Luhansk region of the Donbass still in Ukrainian hands, located across the river from neighbouring Sievierodonetsk seized by Russia last week.

Its capture would allow Russian forces to push deeper into the Donbass region, which has become the focus of their offensive since failing to capture Kiev. "...The city has not been encircled and is under control of the Ukrainian army," Ruslan Muzytchuk, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian National Guard, said on Ukrainian television.

Earlier in the day, Andrei Marotchko, a spokesperson for the separatist forces, told the TASS news agency: "Lysychansk is completely encircled." The announcements come as missiles continue to rain down across Ukraine, killing dozens.

Lukashenko says Belarus intercepted attempted missile strikes by Ukraine

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has alleged that Ukraine tried to strike military facilities on Belarusian territory three days ago, but all its missiles had been intercepted, the state-run Belta news agency has reported.

Lukashenko, who did not provide evidence for the claim, said on Saturday Belarus did not want war with Ukraine, but would fight if its own territory was invaded. He also accused Kiev of "provoking us". The Ukrainian military did not immediately comment.

Lukashenko said there were no troops from Belarus fighting in what Moscow calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine. Belarus is a close ally of Russia and allowed Moscow to use Belarusian territory to send troops into Ukraine on February 24.

Russia hits Ukrainian military sites in Donbass and Mykolaiv

Russian forces have destroyed five Ukrainian army command posts in the Donbass and in the Mykolaiv regions with high-precision weapons and also struck three storage sites in the Zaporizhzhia region, the defence ministry was quoted as saying.

The ministry, cited by Russian news agencies, also said the Russian air force had struck a Ukrainian weapons and equipment base at a tractor factory in Kharkiv, in northeast Ukraine. 

Ukraine's Zelenskyy accuses Russia of 'terror' as missiles rain down

Missiles rained down on Ukraine killing many civilians and wounding dozens in built-up areas as the weekend began, prompting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to accuse Russia of state "terror".

Strikes on a southern resort town left 21 dead and dozens wounded after missiles slammed into flats and a recreation centre in Sergiyvka, 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Black Sea port Odessa. 

Rockets struck residential properties in Solviansk in the heart of the embattled Donbass region, killing a woman in her garden and wounding her husband, a neighbour told AFP news agency, describing debris showered across the neighbourhood.

Russians press assault on eastern Ukrainian city

Russian forces are pounding the city of Lysychansk and its surroundings in an all-out attempt to seize the last stronghold of resistance in eastern Ukraine's Luhansk province, the governor said.

Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend the city and to keep it from falling to Russia, as neighbouring Sievierodonetsk did a week ago. The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces took control of an oil refinery on Lysychansk's edge in recent days, but Luhansk Gov. Sergei Gaidai reported on Friday that fighting for the facility continued.

“Over the last day, the occupiers opened fire from all available kinds of weapons,” Gaidai said on the Telegram messaging app. 

Top Russian general inspects troops involved in Ukraine operation 

The chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, has inspected divisions of Russian troops involved in Moscow's "special military operation" in Ukraine, the defence ministry said.

The ministry published still photographs of Gerasimov at work. It was not immediately clear when the visit took place or if Gerasimov had visited Ukraine itself.

The ministry issued a similar statement about Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu last week. 

France, UK vow to support Ukraine   

The UK and France have pledged to support Ukraine in its war for freedom, according to a statement by UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna in Paris to discuss the need to maintain the two countries’ commitment and cooperation with each other.

The two agreed to maintain strong ties in light of a global situation dominated by Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as high inflation, trade and supply chain challenges caused by the global pandemic and Brexit.

Strong 'explosions' rock Ukraine's southern city of Mykolaiv

Powerful explosions were heard in the early hours of the day in the Ukrainian southern city of Mykolaiv, mayor Oleksandr Senkevich said in a social media post.

"There are powerful explosions in the city! Stay in shelters!" Senkevich wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

It was not immediately known what caused the explosions. Reuters could not independently verify the report. Air raid sirens sounded across the whole Mykolaiv region before the blasts.

For live updates from Friday (July 1), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies