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War for eastern Ukraine reaches 'fearful climax' as European Union is set to approve Ukraine candidacy

Nabih Bulos and Jaweed Kaleem, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

In Lysychansk, Ukrainian personnel said Thursday that the Russian army had made gains along the Severski Donets river with apparent aims to surround Lysychansk from the north and the south. That would leave leave thousands of Ukrainian soldiers trapped. The river separates Lysychansk from Severodonetsk.

It was not clear Thursday if the Russian encirclement around the cities had fully closed. One aid worker who was delivering assistance to Lysychansk said he could still make it from the west into the city but that the Russians were pressing closer to cut off access. He said Russians had already overrun suburbs south of Lysychansk.

Alexander, a special forces police instructor in Lysychansk, acknowledged the situation was bad. “It’s hard, we understand,” he said Thursday. “But we stand.”

The war, now largely concentrated in the east, has also continued elsewhere in the Donbas in addition to other regions.

Shelling reported overnight in the second-largest city, Kharkiv, and towns around it left ten people dead, said regional governor Oleh Sinegubov. The Ukrainian army — whose counteroffensives in the south have reportedly made gains around Kherson — said Thursday that three cruise missiles hit the the city of Mykolaiv. The army also said two missiles were shot down near the coastal city of Odesa.

In the west, the city of Lviv has remained as among the least affected. A key route for refugees and international workers on their way to Poland, Lviv’s shops were open and its streets were bustling. At a crossing at the Ukraine-Poland border, the commercial shipping truck lane was crowded while regular travelers came in quickly.


Once through the border, Ukrainian soldiers on their way to training made their way to a bus where an army officer stood and checked off names from a list. The Polish end of the crossing was lined with hundreds of cars waiting to enter Ukraine that formed a miles-long queue.

It was a stark contrast to Ukraine’s east, where blacked-out ghost towns and the disquieting silence after air-raid sirens are most of what can be seen.


(Bulos reported from Lviv and Kaleem from London.)

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