The city of Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine has fallen, and is now officially under the control of Russian forces, Ukraine’s military have confirmed.

The news comes following an official evacuation order posted on Telegram on the evening of Monday, June 27:

“Dear residents of Lysychansk city territorial community, including relatives! Due to the real threat to life and health, we call on you to evacuate urgently,” Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk region, wrote. “The situation in the city is extremely difficult! Save yourselves and your relatives. Take care of your children!” he added.

Just one day prior, on June 26, Haidai warned citizens of Lysychansk of the imminent threat to the embattled city, proposing door-to-door evacuations and stressing to residents that “everyone who is still hesitant should understand that the next time will be even more difficult. Don’t miss these chances.”

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Haidai warned that Russian troops were “storming” the city, with eight civilians killed by shelling and a further 21 injured on Monday, June 27.

After heavy fighting for the city of Lysychansk, the Armed Forces of Ukraine had to withdraw from their positions and the city fell under Russian control.

Yesterday evening, the General Staff of the Armed Forces wrote on Facebook:

“In the conditions of the multiple superiority of Russian occupation forces in artillery, aviation, MLRS, ammunition and personnel, the continuation of the defense of the city would lead to fatal consequences. In order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw,” the report states.

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A local official said Friday’s incident was “the second time in a row” that Russia shelled the village during aid distribution, though no casualties were reported this time.

According to the General Staff, Ukrainian defenders continue to fight, but “iron will and patriotism are not enough for success: material and technical resources are needed”.

“The defenders of Luhansk Region and other regions of Ukraine heroically perform their civil and military duties. We will be back and we will definitely win,” the General Staff stressed.

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The east of Ukraine has become Russia’s main military focus, four months after it launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 and unsuccessfully attempted to capture Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city.

Since withdrawing from territories around the capital in early April, the Russian military, along with Russian-funded separatist allies in the east, have waged a brutal campaign to drive Ukrainian forces out of Luhansk and the neighboring Donetsk region. Together, these regions constitute the strategically and economically important Donbas industrial belt.

An estimated 100,000 civilians lived in the city of Lysychansk prior to Feb. 24.

The current number of citizens is unknown, but those remaining in the city have witnessed intense artillery barrages that have devastated urban and rural areas.

The fall of Lysychansk follows Ukraine’s military retreat from the nearby eastern city of Severodonetsk, on June 24, with Haidai confirming that the city had experienced “street-by-street battles”.

He posted on Telegram: “Remaining in positions smashed to pieces over many months just for the sake of staying there does not make sense.”

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Ukrainian soldiers “have already received the order to move to new positions,” he added.

Severodonetsk is a strategic city and its capture is viewed by Moscow as a vital military objective in the battle for Luhansk Region and the entire Donbas.

Until yesterday, the region’s city of Lysychansk was one of the few remaining strategically important cities in eastern Ukrainian control remaining under Ukrainian control.

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