Volodymyr Zelensky's advisor admits key eastern Ukraine city could fall
Russian forces seized Lysychansk's sister city Severodonetsk on the opposite side of the Siverskiy Donets river
A video that was broadcasted by a Russian media showed Luhansk militia parading in Lysychansk streets
Zelensky adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Russian forces had finally crossed the Siverskiy Donets river
An adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky said that fighting intensified at the weekend for Lysychansk, Ukraine's last big bastion in the strategic eastern province of Luhansk.
Reuters reported that Russian forces seized Lysychansk's sister city Severodonetsk on the opposite side of the Siverskiy Donets river last month.
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Rodion Miroshnik, ambassador to Russia of the pro-Moscow self-styled Luhansk People's Republic, told Russian television "Lysychansk has been brought under control," but added: "Unfortunately, it is not yet liberated."
A video that was broadcasted by a Russian media showed Luhansk militia parading in Lysychansk streets waving flags and cheering, but Ukraine National Guard spokesman Ruslan Muzychuk told Ukrainian television the city remained in Ukrainian hands.
"Now there are fierce battles near Lysychansk, however, fortunately, the city is not surrounded and is under the control of the Ukrainian army," Muzychuk said.
Zelensky adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Russian forces had finally crossed the Siverskiy Donets river and were approaching the city from the north.
"This is indeed a threat. We shall see. I do not rule out any one of a number of outcomes here. Things will become much more clear within a day or two," he said.
"If Lysychansk is taken, strategically it becomes more difficult for the Russians to continue their offensive. The front lines will be flatter and there will be a frontal attack rather than from the flanks."
He also said the Russians would have to focus on taking six major cities in the industrialised eastern Donbas region and with each their forces would be more and more thinly spread.
"The more Western weapons come to the front, the more the picture changes in favour of Ukraine," he said.
Ukraine has repeatedly appealed for more weapons from the West, saying its forces are heavily outgunned.
Ukrainian authorities said a missile slammed into an apartment block near Odesa on Friday, killing at least 21 people. A shopping mall was hit on Monday in the central city of Kremenchuk, killing at least 19.
Zelensky denounced the strikes on Friday as "conscious, deliberately targeted Russian terror and not some sort of error or a coincidental missile strike."