Fighting rages for key Ukrainian towns in country's eastern region of Donbass as Russia says it takes control of Lysychansk in 130th day of the conflict.

The announcement came after weeks of fierce fighting with Russian troops.
The announcement came after weeks of fierce fighting with Russian troops. (AP)

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Ukrainian army announces retreat from Lysychansk

The Ukrainian army has said its soldiers had retreated from the strategic eastern city of Lysychansk after weeks of fierce fighting with Russian troops.

"In order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw," the army said in a statement, pointing to Russia's superiority in numbers and equipment.

READ MORE: Russia claims full control of Ukraine's Luhansk with capture of last city

Russian shelling kills six in eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk 

Six people were killed in Sloviansk after the eastern Ukrainian city was hit by powerful shelling from Russian multiple rocket launchers, local officials have said.

The attack was the worst shelling to hit the city recently and caused nearly 15 fires in the front line city in the industrial Donbass region that Russia is trying to capture, Mayor Vadym Lyakh wrote on Telegram.

Donetsk regional administration spokesperson Tetiana Ihnatchenko told Ukraine's public news network that 15 people had been wounded in the attack. 

Australia's PM visits Ukraine's Kiev region 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited three war-ravaged towns in Ukraine's Kiev region, the local governor has said.

Governor Oleksiy Kuleba wrote on Telegram that Albanese visited the towns of Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel, where Ukraine says Russia committed atrocities against civilians. Russia denies the allegations.

"Australia supports Ukraine and wants to see justice meted out for the crimes committed here," Kuleba quoted Albanese as saying. 

Czech PM: Our fighter jets will guard Slovakia's air space from Sept 

Czech fighter jets will guard neighbouring Slovakia's air space as of September, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said.

Slovakia asked its NATO allies to patrol its skies as it decided to ground its Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets, which could be sent to neighbouring Ukraine to help Kiev defend itself against Russia's offensive.

"I don't see any problem there, the government will certainly approve it," Fiala said in a televised debate with his Slovak counterpart Eduard Heger. Slovakia ordered F-16 fighter jets from the United States in 2018. The first planes were expected to arrive this year and the shipment to be completed in the next year, but the delivery is now assumed to take place in 2024.

Russia has Ukraine's Lysychansk, entire Luhansk region: minister

Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has said that Moscow's forces have taken the strategic Ukrainian city of Lysychansk and now control the entire region of Luhansk, which has been the target of fierce battles in recent weeks.

"Sergei Shoigu has informed the commander in chief of the Russian armed forces, Vladimir Putin, of the liberation of the People's Republic of Luhansk," the defence ministry said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

The ministry said earlier that Russian forces had encircled Lysychansk and were now fighting inside the city.

Russians gaining foothold in pivotal Ukraine city: governor

Russian forces are strengthening their positions in a grueling fight to capture the last stronghold of resistance in eastern Ukraine's Luhansk province, the region's governor has said.

“The occupiers threw all their forces on Lysychansk. They attacked the city with incomprehensibly cruel tactics,” Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said on the Telegram messaging app.

“They suffer significant losses, but stubbornly advance. They are gaining a foothold in the city.”

Russia accuses Kiev of firing missiles at Belgorod, near Ukraine

Russia has accused Kiev of firing three missiles at the city of Belgorod near the Ukraine border in strikes that has killed at least three people.

"Russian ant-aircraft defences shot down three Tochka-U cluster missiles launched by Ukrainian nationalists against Belgorod," said Russia's defence ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, adding that "after the destruction of the Ukrainian missiles, the debris of one of them fell on a house".

Ukraine hits Russian base in occupied Melitopol: exiled mayor

Ukrainian forces have hit a Russian base with over 30 strikes in the Russian-occupied southern city of Melitopol, the city's exiled Ukrainian mayor has said. 

"At 1200 GMT (3AM local) and 0200 GMT (5AM), there were over 30 strikes exclusively on a military base," Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov, who is currently on Ukraine-controlled territory, said in a video address on Telegram, adding that the base had been "taken out of action."

A Russian official confirmed strikes had hit the city.

Explosions hit Russia's Belgorod near Ukraine: official

At least three people have been killed and dozens of residential buildings damaged in Russia's Belgorod early on the day, the local governor has said, after earlier reports of several blasts heard in the city that lies near the border with Ukraine.

At least 11 apartment buildings were damaged and 39 private residential houses, including five fully destroyed, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, said.

At l east four people were injured and two hospitalised, including a 10-year-old boy, Gladkov said. There was no immediate reaction from Ukraine to the reports.

For live updates from Saturday (July 2), click here