Russian forces intensified their assault on the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk on Sunday after claiming to have captured the nearby rail hub of Lyman, as Kyiv issued new calls for longer-range weapons from the West.
Slow, solid Russian gains in recent days in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas, comprising the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, point to a subtle momentum shift in the war, now in its fourth month.
Invading forces appear close to seizing all of the Luhansk region, one of the more modest war goals the Kremlin set after abandoning its assault on the capital, Kyiv, in the face of Ukrainian resistance.
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Russia’s defence ministry said its troops and allied separatist forces were in full control of Lyman, the site of a railway junction west of the Siverskyi Donets River in the Donetsk.
However, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Hanna Malyar, said the battle for Lyman continued, the ZN.ua website reported.
Sievierodonetsk, some 60 kilometres northeast of Lyman on the eastern side of the river and the largest Donbas city still held by Ukraine, was under heavy assault from the Russians.
“The situation has extremely escalated,” said Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk.
The shelling was so intense it was not possible to assess the latest casualties and damage, though two people were killed on Saturday and 13 more buildings in the city were destroyed, he said.