Jun 27, 2022 - World

Russian forces moving to "blockade" key eastern city, Ukraine says

Ivan Sosnin, 19, walks next to his destroyed house in the city of Lysychansk at the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 7.

A teenager walks next to the remains of his house, destroyed earlier this month during fighting in the city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region of the Donbas, eastern Ukraine. Photo: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

Russian forces increased their assault on Lysychansk Monday as they tried to encircle the city in eastern Ukraine from the south, Ukrainian officials said.

Why it matters: It's the last city in the Luhansk region of the Donbas still under Ukrainian control after Ukraine's forces withdrew from Severodonetsk over the weekend after weeks of bombardment by Russia's military.

  • The escalation came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was expected to press President Biden and other world leaders at the G7 summit via video link for more support as Russian forces attacked Ukraine on several fronts — including weekend airstrikes on the capital Kyiv.

What they're saying: "We need a powerful air defense — modern, fully effective," Zelensky said in an address published on the presidential website Sunday night. "Which can ensure complete protection against these missiles."

  • "We talk about this every day with our partners. There are already some agreements. And partners need to move faster if they are really partners, not observers," he added.

Where it stands: Luhansk region Gov. Serhiy Haidai said in a Telegram post on Monday that Russian forces had fired on a bus station, two churches and other buildings in Lysychansk.

  • "Evacuation is becoming more difficult every day," he said in a later post.
  • Russian-backed separatists claimed Russian troops had "entered Lysychansk from five directions and were isolating Ukrainian defenders," though Ukraine's officials did not mention this in their updates, per Reuters.
  • Haidai said Russian forces were trying to "blockade the city from the south, destroying everything there is," but he added that Ukrainian troops were defending Lysychansk.

What to watch: While the main operational focus of Putin's forces remains the area in and around Lysychansk, "a week of consistently heavy shelling suggests Russia is now trying to gain momentum on the northern Izium axis," said a U.K. Defense Ministry intelligence report, in reference to the Kharkiv region city in eastern Ukraine.

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