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Russians launch attack on eastern Ukrainian city

Russian forces are bombing the city of Lysyhansk and its environs in a sweeping attempt to seize the last resistance stronghold in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province, the governor said on Saturday.

Ukrainian fighters have been trying for weeks to defend the city and prevent it from falling to Russia like neighboring Sievierodonetsk did a week ago. Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces had taken control of an oil refinery on the outskirts of Lysychansk in recent days, but Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai reported on Friday that fighting around the plant continued.

“On the last day, the occupiers opened fire with all available types of weapons,” Haidai said on the messaging app Telegram on Saturday.

Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk are the two provinces that make up the Donbass region, where Russia has focused its offensive since withdrawing from northern Ukraine and the capital Kyiv in the spring.

Since 2014, pro-Russian separatists have held parts of both provinces, and Moscow recognizes all of Luhansk and Donetsk as sovereign republics. Syria’s government said Wednesday it would also recognize the “independence and sovereignty” of the two territories and work to establish diplomatic ties with the separatists.

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In Sloviansk, a major Donetsk city still under Ukrainian control, four people died late Friday when Russian forces fired cluster munitions, Mayor Vadym Lyakh said on Facebook. He said the affected neighborhoods contained no potential military targets.

Elsewhere, investigators were combing the debris from a Russian airstrike early Friday on residential areas near the Ukrainian port city of Odessa that killed 21 people.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said three anti-ship missiles hit a residential building in the small town of Serhiivka. The victims of Friday’s attack also included four family members at a seaside campsite, which was also hit, he said.

“I stress: This is intentional direct Russian terror and not a mistake or accidental missile attack,” Zelenskyy said.

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The Kremlin has repeatedly claimed that the Russian military is targeting fuel storage facilities and military installations, not residential areas.

Ukrainian authorities interpreted the missile attack in repayment for the withdrawal of Russian troops from a nearby Black Sea island of both symbolic and strategic importance in the war that began with Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow portrayed her departure from Snake Island as a “goodwill gesture” to help unblock grain exports.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/07/02/russians-press-assault-on-eastern-ukrainian-city/ Russians launch attack on eastern Ukrainian city

Sarah Y. Kim

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