Russia claims to have ‘liberated’ Luhansk region as six killed in attack on Slovyansk

Russia said on Sunday its forces had taken control of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, after capturing the final holdout city of Lysychansk.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that Luhansk had been “liberated”, the defence ministry said, after Russia earlier said its forces had captured villages around Lysychansk and encircled the city.

The minister said Russian forces and their allies in the area had “gained full control over the city of Lysychansk”.

The claim came as six people were killed in another eastern Ukrainian city, Slovyansk, after it was hit by powerful shelling from Russian multiple rocket launchers, local officials said.

The attack caused nearly 15 fires in the city in the industrial Donbas region, Mayor Vadym Lyakh wrote on Telegram.

Russia also reported explosions on Sunday in its city of Belgorod, about 40 km (25 miles) north of the border with Ukraine, that killed at least three people were killed and damaged and destroyed homes.

Senior Russian lawmaker Andrei Klishas accused Ukraine of shelling Belgorod and called for a stern response.

Moscow has accused Kyiv of numerous attacks on Belgorod and other areas bordering Ukraine. Kyiv has not claimed responsibility.

Meanwhile, in the Russian-occupied southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, Ukrainian forces hit a military base with more than 30 strikes on Sunday, the city’s exiled mayor Ivan Fedorov said in a video address on Telegram.

He said the base had been “taken out of action”.

(Additional reporting by Reuters bureaux and Leah Millis in Kharkiv; Writing by Lincoln Feast and Aidan Lewis; Editing by William Mallard and Edmund Blair)

Douglas Mateo

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