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Russia forces build on their success in Severodonetsk in attacks on Lysychansk

Russia forces build on their success in Severodonetsk in attacks on Lysychansk
Ukrainian servicemen ride a bus to their positions near the city of Severodonetsk of the Luhansk area of Ukraine on June 19. Ukrainian forces on Friday started retreating from the city. Photo by Oleksandr Raushniak/EPA-EFE

June 27 (UPI) -- Luhansk region officials are urging citizens in Lysychansk to evacuate on Monday with the Russian military advancing on the last remaining city still under Ukrainian control in the region.

For weeks, the Kremlin had sustained intense attacks on the eastern Luhansk city in an effort to take control of the Donbas area of Ukraine. The constant attacks, though, had already prompted many to flee before the announcement.

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"Due to the real threat to life and health, we call for an evacuation immediately," Serhiy Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said, according to CNN.

Shybiko Valerii, the head of the Ukrainian Lysychansk military administration, said about 10,000 to 15,000 people remained in Lysychansk but about 50 people left each day.

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The unrecognized Luhansk People's Republic confirmed it was operating "a successful offensive in the area of Lysychansk" with support from the Russian military.

Ukrainian officials said Monday that about 8,000 people are left in Severodonetsk out of 160,000 after its troops retreated from the key Eastern hub on Friday following heavy shelling from Moscow forces.

Ukrainian officials said about 90% of the city's buildings had been destroyed by Russian attacks before their departure. Russia's success there cleared the way for the Kremlin to now intensify its efforts to capture Lysychansk.

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"There's no good news I can share with you," Severodonetsk mayor Oleksandr Striuk, said, according to The New York Times.

The British Defense Ministry said Russia's new success in Severodonetsk and Lysychank allows it to spread more military resources across Ukraine.

"While Russia's main operational focus remains the Sieverodonetsk-Lysychansk pocket, a week of consistently heavy shelling suggests Russia is now trying to regain momentum on the northern Izium axis," the ministry said on Twitter.

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"Ukrainian forces continue to hold the line in that sector, making good use of forested terrain to assist their defense. Over the coming weeks, Russia's campaign will highly likely increasingly rely on echelons of reserve forces. These consist of several distinct components which Russia has almost certainly already started to field."

In the southern port city of Odesa, Russia initiated a new missile strike there late Sunday night, injuring eight people. A Tupolev Tu-22 M bomber struck a roughly 5,000-square-foot residential area, damaging several buildings and outbuildings.

Local Odesa officials said crews had extinguished fires resulting from the bombing on Monday morning. The officials said they are working to repair a thoroughfare in the Primorsky district near Odessa's Black Seacoast.

Kyiv continued to recover Monday from a Russian missile attack the day before, the first time Moscow hit the Ukrainian capital in weeks. The attack happened on the opening day of the G7 Summit in Germany with many of those countries supporting Ukraine's self-defense efforts.

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Russian missiles hit residential buildings and a kindergarten in the Shevchenkivskyi district of the capital, where at least five people were injured, including a seven-year-old girl.

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