Ukraine′s military withdraws from Lysychansk as Russia claims control — as it happened | News | DW | 03.07.2022

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Ukraine's military withdraws from Lysychansk as Russia claims control — as it happened

Ukraine's military said it was forced to withdraw from the city as continuing to defend it would have "fatal consequences." Russia earlier claimed its troops control the entire region of Luhansk. DW has the latest.

 Damaged buildings in Lysychansk

Lysychansk has been staunchly defended by Ukrainian forces

  • Kyiv confirms Russia has captured Lysychansk and thus entire Luhansk region
  • Zelenskyy said his country needed "colossal investments" so people can rebuild their lives
  • German interior minister says Ukrainian refugees face better conditions in EU than Syrians did in 2015

This live updates article is now closed. 

Zelenskyy: Ukrainian troops have left Lysychansk but will return

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has confirmed that his forces have withdrawn from Lysychansk, the last holdout city in the eastern Luhansk region.

In his nightly video address, he vowed to restore control over the area thanks to the prospect of new, improved weaponry.

"If the commanders of our army withdraw people from certain points at the front, where the enemy has the greatest advantage in fire power, and this also applies to Lysychansk, it means only one thing," Zelenskyy said.

"That we will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons."

Moscow said earlier Sunday that Luhansk was now under Russian control after the seizure of Lysychansk.

Russian forces can now concentrate on the neighboring Donetsk region, where Kyiv still controls swathes of territory.

Ukrainian army announces retreat from Lysychansk: Emmanuelle Chaze reports

IOC triples support fund for Ukrainian athletes

After his meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach in Kyiv on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated the need to continue efforts to prevent Russian representatives from participating in international sports competitions.

Bach confirmed that the IOC's position of not allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes remains unchanged. "The time to lift such a ban has not yet come," he said.

According to Zelenskyy, due to the Russian invasion, "more than 100,000 Ukrainian athletes cannot train, hundreds of sports facilities have been destroyed."

He added that "89 athletes and coaches died as a result of hostilities, 13 are in Russian captivity."

Bach also said that the IOC tripled the support fund for Ukrainian athletes. "It was $2.5 million (€2.4 million), now it's $7.5 million (€7.2 million). It gives us the opportunity to support more than 3,000 Ukrainian athletes," he said.

Ukraine confirms that Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from Lysychansk

Ukrainian troops were forced to withdraw from the eastern city of Lysychansk, Ukraine's General Staff said in a statement published on Facebook on Sunday.

"After heavy fighting for Lysychansk, the Defense Forces of Ukraine were forced to withdraw from their occupied positions and lines," the statement said.

"We continue the fight. Unfortunately, steel will and patriotism are not enough for success — material and technical resources are needed," the military said.

Lysychansk was the last city under Ukrainian control in Luhansk region.

Russia had previously announced that it had completely captured Luhansk region. The capture of the region, a key Russian war objective, gives Moscow a boost after weeks of slow advances and shifts the focus of the battlefield to neighboring Donetsk region, where Kyiv still controls considerable territory.

Steinmeier says Ukraine should not be pushed to the negotiating table

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has spoken out against urging Ukraine to negotiate an end to the war that Russia had started.

"Ukraine must regain its sovereignty, its territorial integrity, its independence," Steinmeier said in an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF on Sunday.

According to Steinmeier, the decision on how to end the war now seems to have been made on the battlefield. However, experience shows that every war ends at the negotiating table.

"We need to put Ukraine in a position where they have something to negotiate by making them strong before negotiations begin," Steinmeier said.

"We will not push Ukraine. It remains and is a decision for Ukraine when to go this route," he added.

Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain detained by Turkey

Turkish customs authorities have detained a Russian cargo ship carrying grain which Ukraine says is stolen, Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey said on Sunday.

Turkish customs confirmed to the Russian news agency RIA that the ship was detained. Ukraine had previously asked Turkey to detain the Russian-flagged Zhibek Zholy cargo ship.

"We have full co-operation. The ship is currently standing at the entrance to the port, it has been detained by the customs authorities of Turkey," Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar said on Ukrainian national television.

Bodnar said the ship's fate would be decided by a meeting of investigators on Monday and that Ukraine was hoping for the confiscation of the grain.

Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from the territories that Russian forces have seized since Moscow's invasion began in late February. The Kremlin has previously denied that Russia has stolen any Ukrainian grain.

Australia's PM pledges military aid to Ukraine during visit to Kyiv

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Sunday pledged further military support to Ukraine, including armored vehicles and drones, while meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

In the first visit to Ukraine by an Australian premier, Albanese told reporters in Kyiv that his country would give Ukraine "a hundred million dollars of military support," without specifying if he meant Australian dollars. This figure in Australian dollars would amount to US$68 million (€65 million).

The prime minister specified that Australia would provide extra military equipment requested by Ukraine including 14 armored personnel carriers, 20 Bushmaster armored vehicles and a number of drones.

Albanese also said Australia would impose sanctions and travel bans on 16 more Russian ministers and oligarchs, bringing the total number of Russian individuals sanctioned by Australia to 843.

Kremlin accuses Western countries of blocking peace talks with Ukraine

Moscow has accused the Western nations of preventing peace negotiations with Ukraine and thus dragging out the war.

"Now is the moment when Western countries are betting everything on a continuation of the war," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told state television.

Under the leadership of the United States, the West was not allowing Ukrainians "to think about peace, nor to talk about it, nor to discuss it," Peskov said, referring to statements by Western politicians who had said they did not want to pressure Ukraine into negotiations.

Nevertheless, the moment for negotiations will come, he said. For peace, however, Ukraine must accept Russia's demands, which include the recognition of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea as Russian territory and the cession of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Peskov said.

Czech fighter jets will guard Slovakia's air space

Czech fighter jets will start guarding neighboring Slovakia's air space from September, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Sunday.

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 neighboring Ukraine to help Kyiv defend itself against Russia's invasion.

"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.

Russian troops shell Slovyansk in Donetsk region

The eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk was hit by powerful shelling from multiple rocket launchers on Sunday.

"The biggest shelling of Slovyansk in recent times. There are up to 15 fires, as well as many dead and wounded," the head of the military-civilian administration of Slovyansk, Vadym Lyakh said in a video message.

As a result of the shelling, at least six people were killed and 15 people were injured, a spokeswoman for the Donetsk regional administration said.

Slovyansk is one of the largest Ukrainian-controlled cities in the Donetsk region, which is the target of the Russian offensive.

A map showing the Russian military presence in Ukraine as of June 29, 2022

Russia has claimed gains in its military offensive in eastern Ukraine

Swedish PM silent on Turkish extradition agreement claims

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Sunday declined to say whether her government had agreed to deport people sought by Ankara as part of its bid to overcome Turkey's objections to Sweden's joining NATO.

"I've been a minister for eight years and I never talked about what is said in the negotiation room," she told reporters, adding: "(That) actually puts me in a bit of a difficult situation right now," she added.

Andersson said only that her country would continue to respect national and international laws, that no Swedish nationals will be extradited and that the decision would be left to independent authorities and courts.

At a NATO summit in Madrid on Tuesday, Sweden and Finland, which are both set to join the alliance having sought membership in response to Russia's invasion of nearby Ukraine, agreed to examine Turkish extradition requests "expeditiously and thoroughly."

However, no promise was given to actually carry out the extraditions, though Turkish President Erdogan says Sweden did vow to extradite "73 terrorists," threatening to block the country's NATO membership if that did not occur.

Sweden is home to a 100,000-strong Kurdish diaspora. Ankara claims that some Kurds in the country have links to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), which has waged an insurgency in Turkey since 1984 and whose members Ankara considers terrorists.

Berlin discussing security guarantees for Ukraine with allies: Scholz

Germany has been debating with its allies what security guarantees can be given to Ukraine when the war in the country is over, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has told public service broadcaster ARD.

"We are discussing with close friends the question of the security guarantees we can give. This is an ongoing process. It is clear that it will not be the same as if someone were a member of NATO," Scholz said.

"It is quite clear that this is a matter that is being carefully prepared in the diplomatic sphere, for the day we hope to see soon, when the war is over," he added.

 

Russian and allied forces have 'liberated' Luhansk region: Russian defense minister

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has told President Vladimir Putin that the entire region of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine has been taken by Russian and separatist forces after the city of Lysychansk fell to their assault, the Russian news agency Interfax says.

Shoigu described the capture of Luhansk as a "liberation" from Kyiv's rule.

Ukraine has so far not confirmed Shoigu's claim to have taken Lysychansk, which Ukrainian forces have fiercely defended in past weeks.

Russia has been focusing its efforts on driving Ukrainian forces out of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the Donbas since an initial attempt to take the capital failed.

Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian government troops there since Russia's first military intervention in Ukraine in 2014.

Germany's reception of refugees better than in 2015: Interior minister

Refugees from Ukraine in Germany face better conditions than those who fled the conflict in Syria in 2015, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser says, praising all EU states for their readiness to take in people driven from their homes by Russia's invasion.

"We have done many things much better than we did during the last major refugee movement in 2015," Faeser told the dpa news agency in an interview.

She said EU countries had displayed a "quick and unbureaucratic" ability to take in refugees from Ukraine, describing it as a "historic success."

Germany has taken in more than 850,000 people from Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24, she said, most of them women and children.

Battle for key Ukrainian stronghold intensifies

The battle for the key eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk intensified on Sunday, as Russian forces strengthened their positions around the city, the regional governor of Luhansk said.

"The occupiers threw all their forces on Lysychansk. They attacked the city with incomprehensibly cruel tactics," Serhiy Haidai said in a Telegram post.

"They suffer significant losses, but stubbornly advance. They are gaining a foothold in the city," he added. 

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian president Zelenskky, said Russian forces had crossed the strategic Siverskiy Donets river and were approaching the city from the north. 

"This is indeed a threat…things will become much more clear within a day or two," Arestovych said. 

Both comments came a day after Russia and Ukraine laid competing claims over Lysychansk, the last remaining major Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk region. 

Russian forces have aimed at occupying all of Donbas region, which comprises the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk. 

With Russian forces having already taken control of neighboring city Severodonetsk last week, the fall of Lysychansk would mean that the whole of Luhansk region would fall to Russian control.

Three die in blasts in Russia's Belgorod: Governor

Explosions have killed three people and wounded four others in the Russian city of Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine, the region's governor has said.

The blasts damaged at least 11 apartment buildings and 39 houses, with five of these destroyed, Vyacheslav Gladkov said on the Telegram messaging app.

A 10-year-old child was reportedly among the injured.

The cause of the explosions is being investigated, but several Russian regions near the Ukrainian border have repeatedly accused the Ukrainian military of shelling civilian targets since Moscow began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Kyiv does not usually comment on such accusations.

Zelenskyy calls for international humanitarian aid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a message of hope in his nightly address on Sunday, saying no matter how "difficult it is for us today, we must remember that there will be a tomorrow."

He called for international humanitarian aid so Ukrainians could rebuild their lives once again.

"It is necessary not only to repair everything the occupiers have destroyed but also to create a new foundation for our lives: safe, modern, comfortable, accessible." 

For Ukraine, this meant "colossal investments — billions."

Zelenskyy added it would also require "new technologies, best practices, new institutions, and, of course, reforms."

Leaders from dozens of countries are set to meet in the southern Swiss city of Lugano from July 4 to 5 to lay the groundwork for Ukraine's recovery. The Ukraine Recovery Conference 2022 was renamed in light of Russia's invasion this year, but would otherwise have been the fifth installment of the Ukraine Reform Conference, past editions of which took place in London, Copenhagen, Toronto and Vilnius.

Recap of Saturday's events

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko accused Kyiv of firing at its military facilities, but failed to provide any evidence.

Belarusian state-run Belta news agency quoted Lukashenko as saying the Belarusian military intercepted all missiles targeting it.

Russia and Ukraine made competing claims over the key eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region.

Russia said it "completely" encircled the city, but Ukraine's army denied the claims, saying it was still under the control of the Ukrainian army. 

Russia has focused on seizing Lysychansk as part of its campaign to claim full control of Luhansk, one of the two areas that make up the eastern Donbas region.

A German official warned that Russia could be planning to use a regular 11-day maintenance break on the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, from July 11, as an opportunity to cut gas supplies to Germany.

Click here for all updates from Saturday.

dh, tj, rm/rs (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa) 

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