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Battle rages for key Ukraine city; Belarus claims to down missiles fired by Kyiv

20 9 1

SLOVIANSK, Ukraine (AFP) — Fighting raged for the strategic Ukrainian city Lysychansk on Saturday, as Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said his army had intercepted missiles fired on his territory by Kyiv’s forces.

Ukraine denied claims by Moscow-backed separatists who said they had encircled Lysychansk, the last major city in the Luhansk area of the eastern Donbas region still in Kyiv’s hands.

Lysychansk is located across the river from neighboring Severodonetsk, which Russian forces seized last week.

The city’s capture would allow Russian forces to push deeper into the Donbas, which has become the focus of their offensive since failing to capture Kyiv.

“Fighting rages around Lysychansk… The city has not been encircled and is under control of the Ukrainian army,” Ruslan Muzytchuk, a spokesman for the Ukrainian National Guard, said on Ukrainian television.

Earlier in the day, Andrei Marochko, a spokesman for the separatist forces, told the TASS news agency: “Lysychansk is completely encircled.”

Lukashenko on Saturday accused Ukraine of “provoking” neighboring Belarus, saying his army intercepted missiles fired at his country by Ukrainian forces “around three days ago.”

The claim came one week after Ukraine said missiles struck a border region from Belarus, a long-term Russian ally that supported the February 24 invasion.

But Lukashenko denied any involvement, which would represent an escalation of the conflict.

“As I said more than a year ago, we do not intend to fight in........

© The Times of Israel

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