Battle for Lysychansk intensifies, Russia accuses Ukraine of deadly shelling near border

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Deadly explosions in the Russian city of Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine, damaged dozens of homes, the regional governor said on Sunday. Meanwhile, Kiev acknowledged that it could lose Lysychansk, the last major bastion in eastern Ukraine, to Russian forces. Follow the latest developments here on our live blog, which is regularly updated as the events of the day unfold. All times are Paris time, GMT+2.

06:53 a.m.: Blast kills three in the Russian city of Belgorod near the Ukrainian border

At least three people have died and dozens of houses have been damaged in the Russian city of Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine, the regional governor said on Sunday.

Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported a number of blasts in the city of nearly 400,000, some 40 kilometers north of the border with Ukraine.

At least 11 apartment buildings and 39 houses were damaged, including five that were destroyed, Gladkov said on the Telegram messaging app.

High-ranking Russian lawmaker Andrei Klishas accused Ukraine of shelling Belgorod and called for a military response.

“The deaths of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Belgorod are a direct act of aggression on the part of Ukraine and require the most serious – including a military – response,” Klishas wrote on Telegram.

There was no immediate response from Ukraine and Reuters was unable to independently verify Russian accounts.

3:22 p.m.: Zelenskiy adviser admits key bastion in eastern Ukraine could fall

The battle for Lysychansk, Ukraine’s last major bastion in the strategic eastern province of Luhansk, intensified this weekend, and an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky admitted the city could fall.

Russian forces captured Lysychansk’s sister city, Severodonetsk, across the Siverskiy Donets River, last month after some of the war’s heaviest fighting.

Zelensky adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Russian troops had finally crossed the Siverskiy Donets River and were approaching Lysychansk from the north.

“This is indeed a threat. We will see. I am not ruling out any outcome here. In a day or two everything will become much clearer,” he said.

“If Lysychansk is taken, it will be strategically more difficult for the Russians to continue their offensive. The front lines will be flatter and there will be a frontal attack rather than from the flanks.”

He said the Russians should focus on taking six major cities in the industrialized eastern Donbas region and their forces would be spread more thinly.

“The more Western weapons that come forward, the more the picture changes in favor of Ukraine,” he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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