Battle rages for Ukraine city, Belarus says downed missiles
SLOVIANSK – Fighting raged as Russian troops intensified their offensive in parts of the hard-fought Ukrainian city of Lysychansk on Sunday, after Belarus announced its military had intercepted missiles fired by Kyiv’s forces. “The Russians are entrenching themselves in a district of Lysychansk, the city is on fire,” Sergei Gaidai, governor of the Lugansk region, said on Telegram.
“They attacked the city with inexplicably brutal tactics,” he added. Lysychansk is the last major city in the Lugansk area of the eastern Donbas region still in Kyiv’s hands.
Located across the river from neighbouring Severodonetsk, which Russian forces seized last week, its capture would a deeper push into the Donbas which has become Moscow’s focus since failing to capture Ukraine’s capital.
Gaidai’s update came hours after Ukraine denied claims by Moscow-backed separatists that they had encircled Lysychansk.
“The city has not been encircled and is under control of the Ukrainian army,” Ruslan Muzytchuk, a spokesman for the Ukrainian National Guard, said on Ukrainian television on Saturday. Earlier in the day, Andrei Marochko, a spokesman for the separatist forces, told the TASS news agency that Lysychansk was “completely encircled”.
The intense fighting came as Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko accused Kyiv of “provoking” his country and that his army intercepted missiles fired at his country by Ukrainian forces “around three days ago”.
The claim came one week after Ukraine said missiles struck a border region from Belarus, a long-term Russian ally that supported the February 24 invasion. But Lukashenko denied any involvement, which would represent an escalation of the conflict. “As I said more than a year ago, we do not intend to fight in Ukraine,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency Belta on Saturday. Missiles continue to rain down across Ukraine, killing dozens. Ukra
| Sergei Gaidai, Governor of Lugansk region says, Russians are entrenching themselves in a district of Lysychansk, the city is on fire