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Russia gains ground in Ukraine's east and enters outskirts of Severodonetsk

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Russia gains ground in Ukraine's east and enters outskirts of Severodonetsk
A man walks past a residential building damaged during a shelling in Severodonetsk, North-West of Luhansk, Ukraine, on April 16. Ukraine said the city is not surrounded by Russian forces and fighting continues there. Photo by STR/EPA-EFE

May 27 (UPI) -- Russia's military is gaining ground in Ukraine's east as they continue to try to encircle Severodonetsk. Ukraine denied that the city is surrounded and said fighting continues there.

"The city is not cut off, and it is not surrounded. The fighting continues," said Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region's military administration, in a radio interview. The Russian army has "only entered the outskirts of the city."

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Ukraine's Ministry of Defense on Friday posted an operational invasion update statement that said in the Donetsk area "Russian occupiers are conducting active offensive operations."

The statement said, "In the Sievierodonetsk direction, Russian occupiers, with the support of artillery, carried out assault operations in the areas of the settlements of Shchedryshcheve, Borivske and Toshkivka, and hostilities continue."

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A defense ministry tweet Friday said Ukraine had shot down another Russian Su-35 warplane over Kherson.

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Ukraine's defense ministry said, "An enemy Su-35 fighter was shot down by a MiG-29 fighter of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Kherson oblast."

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The Pentagon said Thursday that Russia appeared to have occupied the northeastern part of Severodonetsk.

Both Russian and Ukrainian officials confirmed Friday that Russia has captured the eastern Ukraine city of Lyman.

The governor of Luhansk said the Russian gains may force Ukrainian forces to evacuate forces there to avoid being surrounded.

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"It is possible that in order not to be surrounded we will have to retreat," Serhiy Haidai wrote in a Telegram post.

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