Russia attacks Kiev as troops consolidate gains in the east

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia attacked the Ukrainian capital early Sunday morning, hitting at least two residential buildings, Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko said as Russian forces elsewhere consolidated their gains in the east.

Associated Press journalists in Kiev saw rescue services fighting flames and saving civilians. Klitschko said two people were hospitalized with injuries.

Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Goncharenko wrote on the Telegram messaging app that “according to preliminary data, 14 missiles were launched against the Kiev and Kiev region.”

Before Sunday’s early morning attack, Kiev hadn’t had to deal with such Russian airstrikes since June 5.

Meanwhile, Russian forces have tried to gobble up the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the eastern region of Luhansk, increasing their momentum after taking full control of the charred ruins of Sievierodonetsk and the chemical factory where hundreds of Ukrainian troops and civilians were based on Saturday. entrenched .

On Saturday, Russia also launched dozens of missiles in various areas of the country, far from the heart of the eastern fighting. Some missiles were first fired by Russian long-range Tu-22 bombers deployed for the first time from Belarus, the Ukrainian Air Command said.

The bombing preceded a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, during which Putin announced that Russia intended to provide Belarus with the Iskander-M missile system.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said late Saturday that Russian and Moscow-backed separatist forces now control Sievierodonetsk and surrounding villages. He said the attempt by Ukrainian troops to turn the Azot factory into a “stubborn center of resistance” had been thwarted.

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk province, said on Friday that Ukrainian troops are withdrawing from Sievierodonetsk after weeks of bombing and house-to-house fighting. He confirmed on Saturday that the city had fallen into the hands of Russian and separatist fighters, who he said were now trying to blockade the neighboring city of Lysychansk from the south. The city is located across the river, just west of Sievierodonetsk.

Russian news agency Interfax quoted a spokesman for the separatist forces, Andrei Marochko, as saying that Russian troops and separatist fighters had invaded Lysychansk and that fighting was taking place in the heart of the city. There was no immediate comment on the claim from the Ukrainian side.

Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk were the focal point of a Russian offensive aimed at capturing all of Donbas and destroying the Ukrainian army that defended it – the most capable and battle-hardened segment of the country’s armed forces.

The capture of Lysychansk would put Russian forces in control of every major settlement in the province, an important step toward Russia’s goal of taking all of Donbas. The Russians and separatists control about half of Donetsk, the second largest province in the Donbas.

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