Bangalore: Lysychansk was once a city of 100,000 people in Ukraine`s eastern Luhansk region, but it now lies in ruins after its fall to Russian forces with many residents still living in bomb shelters and basements. The city was eerily quiet on Tuesday with scorched buildings, overturned vehicles and rubble a testament to the ferocity of the battle it has endured. Tatiana Glushenko, a 45-year-old Lysychansk resident, told Reuters there were people still in basements and bomb shelters, including children and the elderly. Glushenko said she and her family had decided to stay in Lysychansk on worries about safety in other parts of Ukraine.
“All of Ukraine is being shelled: western Ukraine, central Ukraine, Dnipro, Kyiv, everywhere. So we decided not to risk our lives and stay here, at home at least,” she said. But Glushenko is hopeful that peace will return to her city and “that there will be some order”.
Since abandoning an assault on the capital Kyiv earlier in its invasion of Ukraine, 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 said the capture of Lysychansk on Sunday, about a week after the fall of twin city Sievierdonetsk, gives it control of Luhansk – a major goal of the war. Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, calling it a “special military operation” to ensure Russian security and protect Russian-speaking people in Ukraine.
Russia says it does not target civilians, but the near five-month war has killed thousands, displaced millions and flattened cities, particularly in Russian-speaking areas in the east and southeast.
For elderly Lysychansk resident Evgenia, who did not provide her last name, the prospect of rebuilding their home from the ruins left behind is a daunting task. “The roof is broken. You have to fix it, but how and how do you pay for it? Where? From who? Winter is coming soon too, my dear,” said Evgenia, sitting in a dark shelter.
Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now
Russian troops were engaged in heavy fighting supported by widespread artillery fire as they launch a major offensive for Ukraine`s Donetsk region, Ukrainian officials said, a day after Moscow declared victory in the neighbouring province of Luhansk.
* Lysychansk was once a city of 100,000 people in Ukraine`s eastern Luhansk region, but it now lies in ruins after its fall to Russian forces with many residents still living in bomb shelters and basements.
* Russian forces struck a market and a residential area in the city of Sloviansk near front lines in Donetsk, killing at least two people and injuring seven, according to officials.
* Russian-backed separatists have seized two foreign-flagged ships in the southeast Ukrainian port of Mariupol, saying they are now “state property”, in the first such moves against commercial shipping, letters seen by Reuters showed.
* Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.
* The speaker of Russia`s lower house of parliament said Ukraine had become a “terrorist state” and was doing everything to ensure that Russia did not stop at the borders of the Donbas region.
DIPLOMACY AND ECONOMY
* Ukrainian President Zelenskiy renewed his appeal for security guarantees while addressing a conference hosted by the Economist. Europe needs to understand, he said, that the war in Ukraine is about Europe`s safety and Ukraine is the “fence” protecting it.
* An international conference in Lugano, Switzerland, to support Ukraine has outlined a series of principles to steer Kyiv`s recovery and condemned Moscow`s actions.
* US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will call on G20 nations this week to put pressure on Russia to support U.N. efforts to reopen sea lanes blocked by the Ukraine conflict and repeat warnings to China not to support Moscow`s war effort.
* Russian former president Medvedev said a reported proposal from Japan to cap the price of Russian oil at around half its current price would lead to a market shortage that could push prices above $300-400 a barrel.
* Arbitrary detention of civilians has become widespread in parts of Ukraine held by Russia`s military and affiliated armed groups, with 270 cases documented, the U.N. human rights chief said.
* “The city doesn`t exist anymore,” said Nina, a young mother who fled Lysychansk in Luhansk province to take refuge in the central city of Dnipro. “It has practically been wiped off the face of the Earth.”