Deadly blasts in the Russian city of Belgorod, near the Ukraine border, damaged dozens of homes, the regional governor said Sunday. Meanwhile, Kyiv acknowledged it could lose Lysychansk, its last big bastion in eastern Ukraine, to Russian forces. Follow the latest developments here on our live blog, updated regularly as the day’s events unfold. All times are Paris time, GMT+2.
9:51am: Ukraine strikes base in Russian-occupied Melitopol
Ukrainian forces hit a military base in the Russian-occupied southern Ukraine city of Melitopol with more than 30 strikes on Sunday, the city’s exiled mayor said in a video address on Telegram.
The base had been “taken out of action”, Ivan Fedorov said.
A Moscow-installed official said several private residential houses near the airfield were damaged.
“Shells fell on the territory of the airfield. There were no casualties,” Evgeny Balitsky, head of the Russia-installed council in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, wrote on Telegram.
Reuters could not immediately verify the accounts.
6:53am: Blasts kill three in Russian city of Belgorod near Ukrainian border
Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported a number of blasts in the city of nearly 400,000 some 40 kilometres 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.
Senior Russian lawmaker Andrei Klishas accused Ukraine of shelling Belgorod and called for a military response.
“The death 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 severe – including a military – response,” Klishas wrote on Telegram.
There was no immediate reaction from Ukraine and Reuters could not independently verify the Russian accounts.
3:22am: Zelensky adviser concedes key bastion could fall in eastern Ukraine
Fighting for Lysychansk, Ukraine’s last big bastion in the strategic eastern province of Luhansk, has intensified this weekend and an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky conceded the city could fall.
Russian forces seized Lysychansk’s sister city Severodonetsk on the opposite side of the Siverskiy Donets river last month, after some of the heaviest fighting of the war.
Zelensky adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Russian forces had finally crossed the Siverskiy Donets river and were approaching Lysychansk from the north.
“This is indeed a threat. We shall see. I do not rule out any one of a number of outcomes here. Things will become much more clear within a day or two,” he said.
“If Lysychansk is taken, strategically it becomes 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 Russian forces would have to focus on taking six major cities in the industrialised eastern Donbas region and with each their forces would be more and more thinly spread.
“The more Western weapons come to the front, the more the picture changes in favour of Ukraine,” he said.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)