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Ukraine news – live: Kyiv’s army announces withdrawal from last major city in Luhansk

Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend Lysychansk after the fall of neighbouring Sievierodonetsk

Moment Russian missile hits Ukrainian shopping centre

Ukraine’s military has confirmed its withdrawal from Lysychansk, the last major city in Luhansk free of Russian control, after Moscow said Vladimir Putin had been told that the region had been “liberated”.

Following reports that Russian forces had encircled the stronghold amid a fierce battle for its control, Ukraine’s office of the general staff announced that after “heavy fighting” they pulled back to protect their troops.

An adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky earlier conceded that Lysychansk might fall to Russia – but had assumed the conclusion of the gruelling fight would not arrive until Monday.

Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend Lysychansk and to keep it from falling to Russia, as neighbouring Sievierodonetsk did a week ago.

Earlier on Saturday, Ukraine’s state emergency service probing the bombing of a shopping mall in Kremenchuk found up to 29 body fragments in the wreckage. The bombing had claimed 21 lives while 66 were injured.

Russian president Vladimir Putin had said that troops intended to hit a weapons depot nearby, denying that the mall was a target.

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UK to pledge ‘long haul’ support to help rebuild Ukraine

At a conference in Switzerland tomorrow, the UK’s foreign ecretary is set to pledge Britain’s support to Ukraine for the “long haul” to resist Vladimir Putin’s invasion and to rebuild the nation.

Liz Truss will tell a recovery conference in Switzerland on Monday that the UK will “do everything possible to ensure Ukraine wins the war and recovers”, with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky having asked Britain to champion the recovery of Kyiv and the surrounding region, according to the Foreign Office.

Ms Truss will use the Lugano conference to set out a vision to give immediate support and long-term commitments to work alongside the Ukrainians, and will announce plans to host next year’s recovery conference as the government commits to a Marshall Plan-style programme, echoing the one used to rebuild Europe after the Second World War.

“Ukraine’s recovery from Russia’s war of aggression will be a symbol of the power of democracy over autocracy. It will show Putin that his attempts to destroy Ukraine have only produced a stronger, more prosperous and more united nation,” she is expected to say.

“The UK is resolute in its support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and will remain at Ukraine’s side as it emerges as a strong, thriving and cutting-edge democracy. We have led on support for Ukraine during the war and will continue to lead in supporting the Ukrainian government’s reconstruction and development plan.”

Andy Gregory3 July 2022 22:58
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Russian diplomats to depart Bulgaria amid expulsion row

Two Russian planes are set to depart Bulgaria carrying scores of Russian diplomatic staff and their families amid a mass expulsion that has sent tensions soaring between the historically close nations, a Russian diplomat said.

Filip Voskresenski, a high-ranking Russian diplomat, told journalists at the airport in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia he was among the 70 Russian diplomatic staff declared “persona non grata” last week and ordered to leave the country before Monday.

Bulgaria’s expulsion decision was announced by acting prime minister Kiril Petkov, who took a strong stance against Russia after it invaded Ukraine. Mr Petkov, who lost a no-confidence vote on 22 June, has claimed Moscow used “hybrid war” tactics to bring down his government.

Mr Petkov has said that Russia will retain 43 of its employees after the expulsion and noted that Bulgaria has just 12 diplomatic staff in Moscow, saying: “Anyone who works against the interests of Bulgaria will be called to go back to the country from which they came.”

On Friday, Russian ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova issued Bulgaria an ultimatum to reverse its decision and threatened that Moscow would fully sever diplomatic ties.

“I intend to urgently raise before the leadership of my country the issue of the closure of the Embassy of Russia in Bulgaria, which will inevitably lead to the closure of the Bulgarian diplomatic mission in Moscow,” she said in a statement.

The expulsion, which has severely strained diplomatic ties, is the greatest ever number of Russian diplomats expelled by Bulgaria, which has European Union and Nato membership. Bulgaria has strongly backed the West’s sanctions against Moscow.

AP3 July 2022 22:01
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Zelensky acknowledges withdrawal from Lysychansk, vows to return

Volodymyr Zelensky has acknowledged that Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from Lysychansk, the last major city in Luhansk still under Ukrainian control.

But the Ukrainian president vowed to restore control over the area thanks to the army’s tactics and the prospect of new, improved weaponry.

“If the commanders of our army withdraw people from certain points at the front, where the enemy has the greatest advantage in fire power, and this also applies to Lysychansk, it means only one thing,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

“That we will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons.”

Andy Gregory3 July 2022 21:15
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Australian PM announces new measures to support Ukraine at Kyiv conference

Speaking at a press conference in Kyiv alongside Volodymyr Zelensky, Australia’s new prime minister Anthony Albanese has announced that the country will provide 34 additional armoured vehicles to Ukraine and prohibit Russian gold imports.

Mr Albanese said Australia would impose sanctions and travel bans on 16 more Russian ministers and oligarchs, bringing the total number of Russian individuals sanctioned by Australia to 843.

Australia will give Ukraine 14 more armoured personnel carriers and 20 Bushmaster vehicles, he said.

The visit comes after days of uncertainty over whether or not Mr Albanese would take up the invitation to visit Ukraine, 9News Australia reports.

Andy Gregory3 July 2022 20:28
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Hotel in Kramatorsk destroyed by Russian multiple rocket launcher fire, Ukrainian official says

The city of Kramatorsk has been hit by powerful shelling from Russian multiple rocket launchers (MLRS), officials have said.

Donetsk regional administration spokeswoman Tetiana Ihnatchenko told Ukraine’s public news network that a hotel had been destroyed by the strikes.

Kramatorsk’s mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko also said on Sunday evening that the city had once again been hit with what appeared to be MLRS fire.

The eastern city of Sloviansk was also bombarded by the Russian weaponry, which Ms Ihnatchenko said wounded 15 people.

The attack was the worst shelling to hit the front line city recently and caused nearly 15 fires, Mayor Vadym Lyakh wrote on Telegram.

Andy Gregory3 July 2022 19:41
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Zelensky says no ‘final judgement’ available on fate of Lysychansk

While Ukraine's general staff of the military reported that its forces had withdrawn from Lysychansk in Luhansk province, Volodymyr Zelensky has said the fight for the city is ongoing.

“We cannot give you the final judgment. Lysychansk is still being fought for,” the Ukrainian president told a news conference on Sunday alongside Australia’s visiting prime minister.

He said Ukrainian forces were still battling Russia’s soldiers on the city’s outskirts and that territory can move quickly from one side to the other.

Andy Gregory3 July 2022 18:59
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Ukrainian army announces withdrawal from Lysychansk

Our international correspondent Bel Trew reports from Dnipro:

The Ukrainian military has confirmed its force have withdrawn from Lysychansk, the last major city their forces held in the key eastern province of Luhansk.

Earlier on Sunday Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu had told president Vladimir Putin that Luhansk had been “liberated”, a claim Ukrainian defence officials initially denied.

But in a statement posted Sunday evening to an official Facebook page, Ukraine’s office of the general staff said after “heavy fighting” they pulled back to protect their troops.

“We continue the fight. Unfortunately, steel will and patriotism are not enough for success - material and technical resources are needed,” the statement read.

“In order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw,” it added.

You can refresh this breaking story for updates:

Ukrainian army announces withdrawal from last major city in Luhansk

The Ukrainian military has confirmed its force have withdrawn from Lysychansk, the last major city their forces held in the key eastern province of Luhansk.

Andy Gregory3 July 2022 18:32
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Rescue operations underway after the Russian missile attacks where at least 17 people have died and 31 have injured in Serhiivka district of Odessa, Ukraine.

The images shared below capture some of the devastation:

Emily Atkinson3 July 2022 18:15
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Ukraine says it cannot confirm if Lysychansk taken by Russia

Advisor to Ukraine’s defence minister Yuriy Sak has said he “cannot confirm that Lysychansk is under full Russian control” after Moscow earlier stated it had fallen into the country’s hands.

Ukrainian officials, who say references to “liberating” Ukrainian territory are Russian war propaganda, did however report intense artillery barrages on residential areas.

Meanwhile, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, wrote in a briefing note: “Ukrainian forces likely conducted a deliberate withdrawal from Lysychansk, resulting in the Russian seizure of the city on 2 July.”

Emily Atkinson3 July 2022 17:45
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Regulator urges Germans to prepare for possible gas shortage

Fearing Russia might cut off natural gas supplies, the head of Germany’s regulatory agency for energy called on residents Saturday to save energy and to prepare for winter, when use increases.

Federal Network Agency President Klaus Mueller urged house and apartment owners to have their gas boilers and radiators checked and adjusted to maximize their efficiency.

“Maintenance can reduce gas consumption by 10% to 15% ,” he told Funke Mediengruppe, a German newspaper and magazine publisher.

Regulator urges Germans to prepare for possible gas shortage

Fearing Russia might cut off natural gas supplies, the head of Germany’s regulatory agency for energy is calling on residents to save energy and to prepare for winter, when use increases

Emily Atkinson3 July 2022 17:15

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