Ukraine - Day 131 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky promised to take back Lysychansk
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Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
The loss of Lysychansk
Ukraine has acknowledged that its military has withdrawn from the Donbas city of Lysychansk. President Volodymyr Zelensky promised that control over the area would be restored. The Ukrainian army announced that it had withdrawn from Lysychansk. The city in the east of the country has come under attack in recent weeks by the Russian military and Donbas separatists. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces explained that the decision to retreat was made "in order to preserve the lives of the defenders" of Lysychansk and that "in the conditions of substantial superiority of the Russian troops in artillery, aviation, rocket launchers, ammunition and personnel, the continuation of the battle would have fatal consequences". The Russian army is now in full control of Luhansk Oblast and can focus on capturing Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in Donetsk. These are the two parts of Donbas, declared the target of the so-called by Moscow “special operation in Ukraine”, which began on February 24. From Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky initially denied reports from Russia that it had established control over Lysychansk. He then confirmed the withdrawal of the Ukrainian units, but promised that his country would regain the area: "And if the command of our army withdraws people from certain points on the front where the enemy has the greatest fire superiority, in particular, this applies to Lysychansk, this means only one thing: we will return, thanks to our tactics, thanks of the increased supply of modern weapons".
Shelling in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk
Over the past 24 hours, Russia has intensively shelled Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Kharkiv. Six people, including a child, died in the strikes against Sloviansk, Zelensky also claimed. “The enemy's targets were residential buildings, a filtration station and a garden area”, said Ivan Bakanov, head of the Security Service of Ukraine, quoted by UNIAN. According to him, the enemy shelled the city with prohibited cluster munitions. The occupiers fired again only at civilian objects, the head of the special service said. The Russians also fired at a car in which there was a family with two small children trying to leave Zaitsevo in the direction of Bakhmut.
Yesterday, Russia accused Ukraine of firing missiles at the Russian border town of Belgorod. At the same time, Zelensky described the statements of the President of Belarus as dangerous. Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that his country supports Russia and its offensive in Ukraine as part of its long-standing commitment as an ally. Lukashenko noted that only Minsk is on Moscow's side, and Russia and Belarus are "by fate in the same boat."
Meeting in Lugano
Leaders from dozens of countries and heads of international organizations are gathering today and tomorrow in the Swiss city of Lugano to discuss the reconstruction of Ukraine. The goal is to prepare a "Marshall Plan" that will take effect even under Russian fire. The plan "must" include a component to restore the destroyed environment, recommended Virginijus Sinkevičius, the European Commissioner for the Environment. He defined as a "crime of the greatest scale" the damage done to huge forest areas.