Ukrainian President Zelenskiy Vows to Regain Lysychansk After Ukrainian Withdrawal

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday acknowledged Kyiv’s forces had withdrawn from Lysychansk in the eastern Donbas region after a grinding Russian assault, but vowed to regain control over the area with the help of long-range Western weapons.

Russia said its capture of the city of Lysychansk less than a week after taking neighbouring Sievierdonetsk gave it full control of the eastern Luhansk region – a political win that meets a key Kremlin war goal. The battlefield focus now shifts to the neighbouring Donetsk region, where Kyiv still controls swathes of territory.

“If the commanders of our army withdraw people from certain points at the front, where the enemy has the greatest advantage in firepower, and this also applies to Lysychansk, it means only one thing,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

“That we will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons.”

Zelenskiy said Russia was concentrating its firepower on the Donbas front, but Ukraine would hit back with long-range weapons such as the U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers.

“The fact that we protect the lives of our soldiers, our people, plays an equally important role. We will rebuild the walls, we will win back the land, and people must be protected above all else,” Zelenskiy said.

Since abandoning an assault on the capital Kyiv, Russia has concentrated its military operation on the industrial Donbas heartland that comprises the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where Moscow-backed separatist proxies have been fighting Ukraine since 2014.

Russia says it is capturing Luhansk region in order to give it to the self-proclaimed Russian-backed Luhansk People’s Republic whose independence it recognised on the eve of the war.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin that Luhansk had been “liberated”, the defence ministry said, after Russia earlier said its forces had captured villages around Lysychansk and encircled the city. read more

Ukraine’s military command said its forces had been forced to retreat from the city.

“The continuation of the defence of the city would lead to fatal consequences. In order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw,” it said in a statement on social media.

Ukrainian officials, who say references to “liberating” Ukrainian territory are Russian propaganda, had reported intense artillery barrages on residential areas.

West of Lysychansk in Donetsk region, at least six people were killed when the Ukrainian city of Sloviansk was hit by powerful shelling from multiple rocket launchers on Sunday, local officials said. read more

COSTLY CAMPAIGN

Thousands of civilians have been killed and cities levelled since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, with Kyiv accusing Moscow of deliberately targeting civilians. Moscow denies this.

Russia says what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine aims to protect Russian speakers from nationalists. Ukraine and its Western allies say this is a baseless pretext for flagrant aggression that aims to seize territory.