Moscow announces the capture of a key new city in Ukraine

The Russian army continued to bombard eastern Ukraine on Monday, continuing its plan to seize the entire Donbass after capturing the strategic city of Lysytchansk at a time when the Lugano Conference in Switzerland was already preparing for the reconstruction phase.

• Also read: Moscow announces the capture of a key new city in Ukraine

• Also read: “Impossible to say that Lysytchansk is under Russian control,” said Zelenskyy

The staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces on Sunday evening announced its withdrawal from the city of Lysytchansk, which has been the focus of fierce fighting in recent weeks, recognizing the “superiority” of Russian ground forces in that region of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

After capturing Lysytchansk, the centerpiece of a plan to seize this largely Russian-speaking industrial area of ​​Donbass, which has been partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, the Russian army now appears to be focusing its efforts on the two major cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, further to the west, hammered relentlessly since Sunday.

In his speech on Sunday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tried to put on a good face by insisting on the other front lines where Kyiv claims to be making “progress”, in the Kharkiv (northeast) or Kherson (south) regions. “The day will come when we will say the same about Donbass,” President Zelenskyy assured.

In Sloviansk, a city of around 100,000 before the war, six people died in Russian attacks on Sunday, including a nine-year-old girl. “Her name was Eve. She would have turned ten in August,” said President Zelenskyy.

Ukrainian authorities are now urging residents to leave the region while the frontline is just a few kilometers from Sloviansk.

At Siwersk, about twenty kilometers west of Lysytchansk, the Ukrainian forces seem to want to rely on a defensive line between that town and Bakhmout to protect Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. Residents interviewed by AFP recall intensified bombings on Siversk in recent days.

Anti-aircraft alarms also sounded in the night from Sunday to Monday to Odessa.

In Ukraine, no one dares to predict how long the war will last.

“First our specialists said the war would end quickly, then they said: ‘It will be over by Constitution Day (June 28), then by Independence Day (August 24). Now they don’t say anything anymore.” Lioudmila Yachtchouk, 55, a resident of Kyiv, told AFP.

Even if some in Boutcha, a martyred city, have planted flowers again at the foot of the buildings or busy themselves in the vegetable garden, the residents do not yet dare to think about reconstruction when the outcome of the fighting is so uncertain. . . The scars of the battles are still visible everywhere: broken windows, bullet holes, walls riddled with holes…

“We go to bed not knowing if we’ll wake up tomorrow,” breathes Vera Semeniouk, 65. “Everyone’s back, they’re starting to fix houses, many are installing new windows. It would be terrible if it started up again and we had to leave everything again.

Even if the outcome of the war is still completely uncertain, the Lugano conference, which was planned well before Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February, will attempt on Monday and Tuesday to outline the main features of Ukraine’s future reconstruction.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Schmigal and Speaker of Parliament Rouslan Stefantchouk arrived in Lugano on Sunday. In particular, they must meet there with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to lay the foundations for the “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine, even if there is no end in sight to the war and the numbers are between ten and a hundred lie of billions of dollars.

For Robert Mardini, the general director of the International Committee of the Red Cross, it is important “to give the civilians a positive perspective,” he explained to the Swiss, if the reconstruction itself has to wait until the end of the fighting, public broadcaster RTS.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will present a comprehensive plan to help London’s rebuilding in Lugano on Monday.

“Ukraine’s recovery from Russia’s war of aggression will be a symbol of the power of democracy over autocracy. This will show Putin that his attempts to destroy Ukraine have only resulted in a stronger, more prosperous and more united nation,” the head of British diplomacy said ahead of the conference.

For its part, the International Olympic Committee will triple its direct financial support to Ukrainian athletes to enable them to “hoist their flag high” during the Paris 2024 Games and then the 2026 Winter Games, the IOC President announced on Sunday. , Thomas Bach.

On his trip to Kyiv, Thomas Bach, speaking alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, also indicated that “the time has not yet come” to change the IOC’s position, which bans Russian and Belarusian athletes from all international sporting events recommended.

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