Pro-Moscow separatists say they have taken control of Lysychansk, Ukraine’s last bastion in the eastern province of Luhansk.
Rodion Miroshnik, ambassador to Russia of the pro-Moscow Luhansk People’s Republic, told Russian television: “Lysychansk is already under control. Unfortunately, it has not yet been liberated.”
Russian media showed footage of Luhansk militia fighters marching through the streets, waving flags and cheering.
However, Ukrainian National Guard spokesman Ruslan Muzychuk told Ukrainian television that the city was still under Ukrainian control.
“There are fierce battles going on near Lysychansk right now, but fortunately the city is not surrounded and is under the control of the Ukrainian army,” he said.
It comes just days after Russian troops captured Lysychansk’s sister city, Severodonetsk, on the opposite side of the Siverskiy Donets River.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that Russian soldiers had crossed the river and were moving towards Lysychansk from the north.
“This is a real threat. We’ll see,” he said.
“I’m not ruling out any one of these outcomes here.
“Things will become much clearer within the next day or two.”
However, Arestovych also said that if Russia took Lysychansk, its forces would be very thinly spread, as they try to keep control of the six major cities they have captured in the Donbas, an area that includes Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk.
He added: “The more Western weapons go to the front, the more the picture changes in favor of Ukraine.”
• In his nightly speech, Mr. Zelenskyy praised the defenders of Ukraine and called for the truth about the war to spread.
• Eight Ukrainian city and village leaders are being held in Russia, according to the Association of Ukrainian Cities
• Ukrainian forces repelled Russian advances in Novomykhailivka, Bohorodychne and Ivanivka
• A Russian mine exploded, killing one civilian and wounding another in the Odesa . region
• Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed that Ukraine tried to attack military facilities on Belarusian territory three days ago, although he did not provide evidence.
Meanwhile, Russia said it attacked army headquarters in Mykolaiv, near the Black Sea port of Odesa, where there were also several powerful explosions.
At least three people were killed in Belgorod, a Russian city near the Ukrainian border, in the early hours of Sunday.
Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region, said that at least 11 apartment buildings and 39 houses were damaged.
Ukraine has not yet commented on the reports.
It follows a Russian attack on an apartment complex near Odesa on Friday, which killed at least 21 people, and on a shopping mall in downtown Kremenchuk on Monday, killing at least 19 people. die.