Ukraine may have had its worst week since the fall of Mariupol

Ukrainian forces withdrew from eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region on June 21, with Ukraine saying Russian bombing had caused “catastrophic destruction” in the eastern Ukrainian industrial city of Lyschansk. (Anatoly Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian officials have acknowledged the loss of several communities near the city of Lysichansk, the only urban area in the Luhansk region they still control.

“The Russians are approaching Lyschansk, and are holed up in neighboring towns. The city is being bombarded with planes,” said Serhiy Heidi, head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration.

Heidi admitted that it was “difficult” in the area south of Lysekhansk. “The enemy entered Toshkivka, which allowed him to set fire to other settlements.”

He said that Russian troops were entrenched in several villages immediately to the south of Lyschansk, including Ustinevka, Bidelsen and Myrna Dolina, and were advancing at Bjela Hora. “It is not easy for our soldiers to maintain the defense,” he admitted.

Heidi’s comments suggest that the Ukrainian defenses around Lysichansk are beginning to succumb to much greater Russian firepower, after weeks of bombing.

“Street battles continue in Severodonetsk,” he said, with Ukrainian defenders still occupying part of the Azot chemical plant.

But he said the Russians were trying to surround Ukrainian units in some areas (such as Boryevsk) near Lyschansk and Severodonetsk. Military analysts said the risk of Russia advancing from the south meant that some Ukrainian forces could be cut off.

Heidi added: “Lisechansk is under heavy fire now. The city is being bombarded with artillery, tanks and aircraft. At least three civilians were wounded, and a number of policemen were wounded.” He said that the buildings of the police and security services were hit by rockets.

During its campaign, Russia used extensive bombing tactics before attempting to gain territory.

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Elsewhere, the Ukrainian Army’s General Staff said Russia has detained up to three tactical battalions and airborne units in border areas as potential reinforcements.

She added that settlements near Kharkiv were subjected to intense bombardment. On Tuesday, 15 people were killed in artillery shelling in the area.

In the Donetsk region, the General Staff said that Russian forces are using multiple launch missile systems “in order to create conditions for the resumption of the offensive on the city of Slovensk”.

But it also said that Ukrainian units prevented the Russians from advancing on Bakhmut from the south.

Elsewhere, along the active front lines of more than 1,000 km, Ukrainians reported shelling of settlements in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhya regions.

The head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, Pavlo Kirilenko, said that six children were wounded and one person was killed in the shelling of Chasev Yar. He said the cluster munitions fell on the shore of a lake in the town.

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