President Zelensky vows to win back key stronghold captured by Russian forces


UKRAINE’S president, Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to win back a key stronghold captured by Russian forces.

Lionheart leader  Zelensky insisted his troops “will return” to Lysychansk armed with British weapons.

He stood defiant after Ukraine defenders were forced to abandon the ghost city — the last place in the Luhansk region still under the control of Kyiv.

President Zelensky declared: “It means only one thing: We will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons. Ukraine does not give anything up.”

Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin crowed about Moscow’s victory after his soldiers, backed with an artillery bombardment, finally blasted their way into the ruined city at the weekend.

President Putin has ordered his troops to rest and “increase their combat capabilities” amid fears of a fresh offensive.

Defence minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia had now captured all of Luhansk, one of two districts which makes up the Donbas — the focus of Russia’s onslaught.

But Mr Zelensky also warned the Kremlin’s boasts would “turn into dust”, as Ukraine prepares counter-attacks.

Defenders have forced Russian retreats around Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kerson as well as on Snake Island in the Black Sea.

Mr Zelensky insisted: “There will be a day when we will say the same about Donbas.”

Most of the bitter battle for Lysychansk was fought before Western allies delivered multiple launch rocket systems, with a range of over 40 miles.

The retreat showed “steel will and patriotism” was not enough to halt Russia, Ukraine’s commanders said.

They pleaded: “Material and technical resources are needed.”

The neighbouring city Severodonetsk was captured by Russia last week.

It followed reports Russian guns outnumbered Ukraine’s artillery by up to 15 to one.

Officials said hundreds of multiple rocket launchers could tip the conflict in Ukraine’s favour.

Troops were ordered to leave Lysychansk as Russia surrounded the city on Saturday.

The armed forces said in a statement: “In order to save the lives of the Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw.

“We continue the struggle. Unfortunately, for success, steel will and patriotism are not enough.”

The Sun joined police and volunteers evacuating trapped civilians as Russian troops closed in last month.

100,000 FLED

Around 100,000 people had already fled but 20,000 remained, without power, gas, phones or running water.

Nadiezhda, 61, and husband Yurii were forced to cook in a yard where they buried a neighbour killed in a blitz.

Their block of flats had a ten-metre hole on its front torn by Russian shells — but they were determined to stay.

At that point the city was ­surrounded on three sides and bridges were blown up.

Police used a web of back roads to sneak in and out of the city away from the Russian artillery.

Residents relied on food handouts as all the shops were shut.

The retreat came as Prime ­Minister Denys Shmyhal said it would cost £620billion to rebuild Ukraine after the war.

He said Putin’s bloodbath had already caused £82billion of “direct infrastructure losses”.

Captured British fighters Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner have appealed against their death sentences from a Russian-backed kangaroo court in Donetsk.

Former care worker Aiden, 28, of Newark, Notts, and Shaun, 46, an ex-soldier from Watford, ­surrendered in Mariupol along with other Ukrainian marines.

They were stripped of their rights under the Geneva Convention which protects POWs.

They were accused of being ­foreign mercenaries and convicted with Morroccan-born Brahim Saadun.

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