Yesterday, there were conflicting reports that Russian forces had taken control of the strategic city of Lyschansk and, subsequently, of the entire Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine. While the Russian Defense Ministry announced “the liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic” and that Ukrainian forces are now “completely” surrounded in Lyschansk, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later announced the continuation of fighting in the outskirts of the city, and said during a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese: “We cannot say Lyschansk is under Russian control.”
For his part, the mayor of Sloviansk, located in eastern Ukraine, 75 km from Lyschansk, announced yesterday that six people were killed in shelling during the advance of Russian forces. This came as Belarus announced the interception of missiles launched by Kyiv, and Russia accused Ukraine of firing three cluster missiles at Belgorod in an attack that killed four people.
In a related matter, the Australian Prime Minister announced yesterday in Kyiv that his country will provide 34 additional armored vehicles to Ukraine and ban Russian gold imports. Albanese added that Australia will impose sanctions on another 16 Russian ministers and dignitaries, bringing the total number of Russian individuals subject to Australian sanctions to 834.
These developments came on the eve of a meeting of leaders of dozens of countries and international organizations in Lugano, Switzerland, with the aim of drawing up a road map for the recovery of the war-torn country. Zelensky said the reconstruction of Ukraine “needs huge investments, billions, new technology, new institutions and, of course, reforms.” He noted that the war affected ten regions of Ukraine, while many towns and villages had to be “rebuilt” from scratch.