Russian forces began advancing in Donetsk Province after taking control of the Lugansk Province in the Donbass region (eastern Ukraine). Kyiv spoke of massive bombing in the theater of operations and called on the residents to leave, stressing that its forces thwarted a Russian attack in Kharkiv (east).

The Ukrainian governor of Lugansk region, Sergey Gaidai, said on Tuesday that Russian forces and their separatist allies were moving equipment to Donetsk province, where Ukrainian forces still control important parts.

For its part, the French Press Agency said that the Russian forces were advancing this morning west towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the two largest nearby cities in Donetsk.

The agency added that the Russians were about 10 kilometers from the city of Seversk, which they have been bombing for days.

According to the mayor of Slovyansk, Vadim Lyakh, the city - which had 100,000 residents before the war - is under massive Russian bombardment.

Because of the Russian advance, the governor of the Donetsk region called on about a quarter of a million residents of the region to leave.

Earlier in the day, the governor of Lugansk province, Sergey Gaidai, said that Ukrainian forces were stationed in new defensive lines in the east of the country in preparation for a new phase of fighting, after the Russians seized the city of Lyschansk.

On the other hand, the governor of the separatist, pro-Russian Donetsk province, Denis Pushilin, said that the forces of Luhansk province would participate in what he described as the process of liberating the remaining parts of his province, which are under the control of Ukraine.


News websites close to the Ukrainian army broadcast pictures that they said were targeting military depots belonging to Russia and the separatists, and the photos showed what they said was the explosion of major ammunition depots in the Kadiivka region of Lugansk Province.

Ukrainian military officials stated that these depots were supplying Russian forces with ammunition during the battles of Severodonetsk and Lyschansk, and the photos also show another explosion of what they said was a Russian military spare parts depot in Donetsk.

Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to continue the offensive aimed at seizing the entire Donbass region, parts of which have been controlled by pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.

During the war launched by Russia on February 24, Russian forces captured parts of eastern and southern Ukraine, taking control of cities including Severodonetsk and Lysechhansk in the Donbass region, Mariupol and Kherson bordering the region, in addition to parts of Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Zaporozhye.


Field developments

In other field developments, the Ukrainian General Staff announced today that it had thwarted an attack by Russian forces in Kharkiv (east), whose areas are being bombed by Russian forces.

The Ukrainian General Staff also said that threats to launch missile and air strikes from Belarus - allied with Russia - exist.

For his part, Al-Jazeera correspondent reported that 3 explosions occurred in the center of the Mykolaiv district in the south of the country this morning.

In turn, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the elimination of about 150 Ukrainian soldiers in the city of Kharkiv using high-precision missiles.

Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov indicated that Russian forces yesterday targeted dozens of Ukrainian forces and their military equipment, including a location for what he described as foreign mercenaries in Mykolaiv.

Zaporozhye nuclear plant was hit by shells at the beginning of the war (Reuters)

Russian base in Zaporozhye

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Russian military is converting the Zaporozhye station into a military base in southern Ukraine.

The newspaper said that more than 500 Russian soldiers have deployed heavy artillery batteries in recent weeks and planted anti-personnel mines along the shores of the reservoir whose water cools the plant's reactors, while the Ukrainian army controls the towns spread on the opposite shore about 3 miles away, but does not see a way. Easy to attack the station given the danger lurking in artillery battles around active nuclear reactors.

She noted that the Russian army places its weapons on a daily basis around the station and uses them to strengthen control over the front line.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a European official working in the nearby city of Zaporozhye, which is still under Ukrainian control, that the Russian army is keeping the station as its artillery base, and realizes that Ukraine will not respond to its attacks from the station.

Ukrainian Prime Minister addresses the Lugano Conference (Reuters)

Reconstruction

On the other hand, the countries participating in the Lugano Conference in Switzerland committed themselves to supporting Ukraine through a path from early recovery to long-term recovery, and agreed on the need for broad reforms to enhance transparency and fight corruption.

The President of the Swiss Confederation Ignacio Cassis said - in a press conference at the conclusion of the conference - that their work is preparing for the post-war period, and even as the war continues, adding that this would give the Ukrainians hope and certainty that they are not alone.

The closing sessions of the conference were held with the participation of the President of the European Union and the President of the European Commission, as well as representatives of 40 countries.

And Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyal said in his speech at the conference yesterday that the cost of the reconstruction of Ukraine may reach 750 billion dollars, and demanded that the confiscated funds from rich Russians be used in the reconstruction.

For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who addressed the conference via video link, stressed that rebuilding his country is "the common task of the entire democratic world," stressing that his country's recovery serves world peace.

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