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As fighting in Ukraine continues, Russia claimed on Saturday that its army had captured a key town in the east.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the town of Lyman – which serves as a regional rail hub – had been “completely liberated”.
However, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said the battle continued, according to the ZN.ua website.
It comes as Ukrainian police said on Saturday that the area around Sievierodonetsk – the largest city in Donbass still held by Ukraine – is under “constant enemy fire” and civilians have been injured there.
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On Tuesday, Russian forces seized Svitlodarsk, a municipality south of the city.
The governor of Luhansk province said Ukrainian soldiers may need to withdraw from Sievierodonetsk, fearing residents could experience a repeat of Mariupol.
Sievierodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Striuk told The Associated Press on Friday that there were about 12,000 to 13,000 people left there, where 90 percent of the buildings are damaged.
“If the occupiers think Lyman or Sievierodonetsk will be theirs, they are wrong. Donbass will be Ukrainian,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said on Saturday that Ukrainian troops had repelled eight attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk in the past 24 hours.
Zelenskyy and the officials called on Western allies to provide more powerful weapons.
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It comes after the Russian Defense Ministry said the Navy had successfully launched a new hypersonic missile from the Barents Sea.
The missile has already been touted as a major breakthrough in weapons development.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned in an interview with RT Arabic on Friday that supplying Ukraine with rockets that could reach Russia would be “a most serious step towards an unacceptable escalation”.
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), more than 4,000 Ukrainian civilians were killed and more than 4,700 injured.
This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of “sabotage” negotiations between the two countries.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday that while Ukraine was not keen on having a dialogue with Putin, he understood that communication would be needed to end the war.
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“There are things to discuss with the Russian leader. I’m not telling you that for me our people are eager to talk to him, but we have to face the realities of what we are going through,” he said. .
Timothy Nerozzi of Fox News, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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