Russian forces will intensify their efforts to gain control of the Donetsk region eastern after Ukrainian troops were forced to withdraw from the last major city Lysychansk under its control in the neighbouring Luhansk region.
Ukraine's military command confirmed that it was forced to pull back from the city to avoid "fatal consequences." Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to recapture the area with the help of long-range weapons supplied from the West.
Ukraine Ministry of Defence stated that capturing the rest of Donetsk Oblast, of which large parts remain under Ukrainian control, is Russia’s key aim. After retreating from its onslaught on Kyiv, Russia focused on gaining ground in the industrial Donbas region that includes the Luhansk and Donetsk districts. Moscow-backed separatists have fought in the Donbas since 2014.
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During his nightly address, Zelensky said that although Russia now focuses on Donbas, Ukraine will hit back with weapons, including the US HIMARS rocket launcher.
"The fact that we protect the lives of our soldiers, our people, plays an equally important role. We will rebuild the walls, we will win back the land, and people must be protected above all else," Zelensky said.
It was a victory for Russia, which claimed it had "liberated" the region. Taking Lysychansk means that Moscow now controls the whole of the Luhansk region, along with half of Donetsk, which are altogether known as Donbas.
The gains bring Russian troops closer to other cities and towns in Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk, including the most eastern town, Sloviansk, where authorities said six people were killed and 15 others were injured during bombing on Sunday.
With the fighting continuing in Ukraine's eastern front, violence has also crossed over the border from Ukraine and into Russia. Russian officials in the Russian city Belgorod have accused Ukrainian forces of bombing a neighbourhood and killing three people on Sunday.