Kyiv on Monday is trying to slow down the Russian army’s advance in eastern Ukraine after the fall of the strategic city of Lysychansk. This comes at a time when an international conference is opening in Switzerland to prepare for the future reconstruction of the country.
The staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on Sunday evening announced its withdrawal from the city of Lysytchansk, the last Ukrainian stronghold in the Lugansk Oblast, recognizing the “superiority” of Russian ground forces.
“We continue to defend a tiny part [du territoire] of the Lugansk region so that our army can prepare a new line of defense, said on Monday morning Serguiï Gaïdaï, the governor of that province, whose full control Moscow announced on Sunday.
Fighting near Bilogorivka
According to Mr. Gaidai, the fighting took place near Bilogorivka, a town bordering the Donetsk region, a few kilometers west of Lysytchansk.
After capturing Lysytchansk, the centerpiece of a plan to seize Donbass, a largely Russian-speaking industrial area partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, the Russian army now appears to be focusing its efforts on Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, two larger cities farther east, West, hammered since Sunday.
“The Russians are killing civilians!” said the governor of the Donetsk region on Monday morning and reported ten dead, including two children, the day before during Russian strikes in Sloviansk and the surrounding area.
“A Day Will Come”
On Sunday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tried to put on a good face by insisting on the other front lines where Kyiv claims it is making “progress”, in the Kharkiv (northeast) or Kherson (south) regions. “There will come a day when we will say the same about Donbass,” President Zelenskyy assured.
As the front line approaches Sloviansk, Ukrainian authorities are now urging residents to evacuate the area.
The city’s streets were almost deserted on Monday morning, local AFP journalists reported. At the large downtown market, largely devastated by a fire caused by a Russian bombardment, some vendors offered necessities while others cleared charred debris.
Vendors and local residents interviewed by AFP, some of whom are still in shock, expressed concern over the coming days and weeks when bomb noises will be heard.
In Siwersk, between Lyssytchansk and Sloviansk, the Ukrainian forces seem to want to rely on a line of defense between that town and Bakhmout further south. Residents polled by AFP point to increasingly intense bombing of Siversk in recent days.
“The enemy has intensified its bombing of our positions in the direction of Bakhmout,” confirmed the Ukrainian army staff in its first point on Monday morning.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it had destroyed “seven Ukrainian command posts, including that of the 25th Airborne Division in the Siversk region” in the past 24 hours.
With the outcome of the war uncertain, the Lugano conference on Monday and Tuesday must attempt to chart the outlines of Ukraine’s future reconstruction.
The “task is really colossal,” if only in the liberated areas, Mr. Zelensky conceded on Sunday, referring to the conference. His Swiss hosts hoped that he would come in person, but, as he is now used to, he will participate via videoconference in this meeting, which brings together the leaders of Ukraine’s allies, international institutions, but also the private sector.
Planned well before the war, the conference was initially intended to focus on reforms in Ukraine and in particular the fight against endemic corruption.
“Marshall Plan” for Ukraine
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Chmygal and Parliament Speaker Rouslan Stefantchouk arrived in Lugano on Sunday. In particular, they must meet there with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to lay the foundations for the “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine, even if there is no end in sight to the war and the numbers are between ten and a hundred lie of billions of dollars.
Robert Mardini, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, told RTS that while strictly speaking reconstruction must wait until the end of the fighting, “giving civilians a positive perspective” is crucial.
The Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) has so far estimated damage to buildings and infrastructure at nearly $104 billion. It is estimated that the country’s economy has already lost 600 billion.
New fund for Ukraine
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is set to propose setting up a new fund for Ukraine, which sources familiar with the plan say could reach €100 billion.
The UK, one of Ukraine’s most active allies, will in particular support the reconstruction of the city and region of Kyiv at the request of President Zelenskyy, the Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.
This article was published automatically. Sources: ats/afp
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