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Russian forces continue to hammer the Donbas as they try to encircle the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the besieged cities of Lysychansk and Syevyerodonetsk in the Luhansk region, while casualties continue to increase on both sides.

Serhiy Hayday, head of the military administration in the Luhansk region, where the twin cities are located, said Ukrainian forces are facing massive and relentless artillery attacks in Lysychansk.

“The Russian military is massively bombing Lysychansk,” Hayday wrote on Telegram. “They’re just destroying everything there … They’ve destroyed buildings and unfortunately there are victims.”

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The British Ministry of Defense said this in its daily intelligence bulletin at the beginning of June 22 that the outcome of the war will probably increasingly depend on the ability of the warring parties to generate and deploy reserve units at the front.

The British bulletin highlighted what it called the “extraordinary” dropout rate among Moscow-backed separatist forces in the Donetsk region, which, based on data published by the separatist authorities – more than 2,100 dead and nearly 8,900 wounded – is equivalent to about 55 percent of its original strength.

The report said the separatists appeared to be equipped with outdated Russian weapons and equipment.

He noted that Russian regular forces, which have not released official casualty data since March 25, have likely suffered equally high casualties.

Ukraine has not released official data on the victims, which it keeps secret, but various officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, have suggested that up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers are killed every day.

On the battlefield, Russian forces captured two cities near the besieged cities of Lysychansk and Syevyerodonetsk in the Luhansk region, the Ukrainian army said on June 21.

The captured cities – Pidlisne and Myrna Dolyna – are heading for Toshkivka-Pidlisne, Ukrainian general staff said in the evening. report.

The Ukrainian command also said that Russian forces had partial success in the Horske area and in the direction of Bila Hor, while Ukrainian soldiers successfully repelled an assault in the direction of Vysokij.

Ukraine previously confirmed that Russia had taken Toshkivka village to the fore.

British intelligence said the Russian offensive, backed by intense heavy artillery fire, had the main objective of enveloping the Syevyerodonetsk area from Izyum in the north and Popasna in the south.

Despite the increase in casualties, the intelligence bulletin stated that Russia “most likely was preparing to attempt to deploy large numbers of reserve units in the Donbas.”

Zelenskiy said the military situation was very difficult. “This is really the hardest point. The occupants are pressing hard,” Zelenskiy said in an evening video speech.

In Syevyerodonetsk, Ukrainian defenders clung to the Azot chemical plant in the city. About 500 civilians are taking refuge at the plant, and Hayday said in an interview with AP that Russian forces were turning the area “into ruins.”

The Ukrainian command also said its forces rejected a reconnaissance attempt in and around Metyolkine, which Ukraine confirmed had been captured by the Russians.

The head of the Kharkiv regional state administration, Oleh Synegubov, said at least 15 civilians were killed in the region by Russian bombing on 21 June.

Six died in and around Kharkiv and six more in Chuhuyiv, about 40 kilometers southeast of Kharkiv, Synegubov said. Three died in Zolochiv, 40 kilometers northwest of the city.

The command reported Russian bombing of settlements in Kramatorsk, Bakhmut, Avdiyivka, Novopavlovsk and Zaporizhzhya.

With reports from Reuters, AFP, BBC, CNN and TASS

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