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Russia shells Ukraine’s Donetsk region seeking new gains after seizing Luhansk

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Russia shells Ukraine’s Donetsk region seeking new gains after seizing Luhansk

Russia opens fire on Donetsk region Governor says there is no safe place to visit captured Lysichansk shows sabotage Russia took control of the entire Luhansk region on Sunday

SLOVENSK/Kyiv, July 5 (Reuters) – Russian troops attacked targets in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, paving the way for an expected armored advance to try to capture more territory as The five-month war has entered a new phase.

The attack came after Moscow seized the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk on Sunday, a move that gave it full control of the Luhansk region, one of its main war targets, regional officials and the Russian military reported.

Total control of Donetsk, the industrialized region of eastern Ukraine that has become the stage for Europe’s biggest battle in generations, is another goal of what Moscow calls “special military operations.”

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Ukrainian troops retreating from Lysichansk over the weekend established a defensive line in the Donetsk region on Tuesday, the governor of the Luhansk region Sergei Ghede said. A spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said Ukrainian troops were resisting Russian attempts to advance toward Sloviansk.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, said on television that his region had been hit overnight, a hunch for what might continue to happen in the coming weeks.

“Sloveniask and Kramatorsk were shelled. They are also the enemy’s main lines of attack now,” he said. “In the Donetsk region, there is no safe place without shelling.”

A Russian strike on the city’s market has killed a woman and injured at least three, Slovensk police said. Reuters could not immediately independently verify the report.

A Reuters reporter at the scene saw yellow smoke coming from an auto parts store, which engulfed rows of market stalls as firefighters tried to put out the blaze.

The city’s mayor, Vadym Lyakh, wrote on Facebook that central and northern Slovensk had been shelled.

“Everyone stay in the shelter!” he wrote.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it did not target residential areas and said it had used high-precision weapons to destroy command centers and artillery in the Donetsk region, where Ukraine still controls some major cities.

President Vladimir Putin told forces involved in the occupation of Luhansk that they would also be involved in any attempt to occupy the city of Donetsk, “to rest and restore their military readiness”, while forces in other parts of Ukraine continued to fight .

Both sides suffered heavy casualties in the battle for Luhansk, especially during the siege of the twin cities of Lesichansk and Siverodonetsk. Both were destroyed.

Reuters reporters who visited Lysychansk on Monday found widespread destruction and few residents in the city once home to nearly 100,000 people.read more

Those left behind saw upside-down Ukrainian police cars full of bullets, a hulking local government building scorched by artillery fire and the damaged golden dome of an Orthodox church.

Since the conflict began, Russia has demanded that Ukraine hand over both Luhansk and Donetsk to Moscow-backed separatists who have declared independence.

“Final Victory” Claims

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told President Volodymyr Zelensky on a conference call on Tuesday that he believed Ukrainian forces could retake territory recently occupied by Russian forces.

A spokesman said Johnson had updated Zelensky on the latest deliveries of British military equipment, including 10 self-propelled artillery systems and loitering ammunition, which were due to arrive in the coming days and weeks.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelenskiy, said it took Russia 90 days, at a high price, to capture two medium-sized cities.

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

In addition to the Donetsk campaign, Ukraine also wants to launch a counteroffensive in the south of the country, he said. He said Russia may have difficulty moving its forces there, 60 percent of which are now concentrated in the east.

“And there is no more force to bring in from Russia. They paid a huge price for West Rodonetsk and Lysichansk.”

Some military experts believe that the gruelling victory has brought little strategic gains to the Russian army, and the outcome of what has been dubbed the “Battle of Donbass” is still up in the air.

“I think it was a tactical victory for Russia, but it came at a huge price,” said Neil Melvin of the RUSI think tank in London.

Melvin said the decisive battle for Kyiv was likely to be fought not in the east, where Russia is conducting its main offensive, but in the south, where Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive to retake territory around the city of Kherson.

“From there there is a counter-offensive, and I think we’re likely to see momentum turn to Ukraine as it tries to launch a massive counter-offensive to push the Russians back,” he said.

Russian rockets hit the southern city of Mykolaiv, on the main highway between Kherson and Odessa, early on Tuesday, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said.

Zelensky said on Monday that despite Ukraine’s withdrawal from Lyschansk, its troops continued to fight.

“Day after day the Ukrainian armed forces respond, repel and destroy the offensive potential of the occupiers,” Zelensky said in a nightly video message.

“We need to break them. It’s a tough job. It takes time and superhuman effort. But we have no choice.”

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Reporting by Reuters Division; Writing by Michael Perry and Andrew Osborne; Editing by Robert Birsel and Tomasz Janowski

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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