Russia-Ukraine war live: Two people killed in shelling of Russian-controlled Donetsk

Russian-installed mayor Alexei Kulemzin says two people were killed after shelling in eastern Ukraine

Welcome to our latest live coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

This morning Ukraine time, two people were killed in shelling of the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, according to its Russian-installed mayor, Alexei Kulemzin.

Ukraine’s top military commander admitted on Sunday that the situation in the north-eastern Kharkiv region was “difficult” as Russia continued an assault in the area. Col Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi denied that the Russians had made a significant breakthrough, but said his forces were on the back foot. “[We] are fighting fierce defensive battles. The attempts of the Russian invaders to break through our defences have been stopped,” he wrote on Telegram.

At least 15 people were killed and 20 injured on Sunday when part of a Russian apartment block collapsed after being struck by fragments of a missile, launched by Ukraine and shot down by Russia, Russian officials said. In one of the deadliest attacks to date on the region of Belgorod, Russian officials said Ukraine launched an attack involving at least 12 missiles, including Tochka ballistic missiles and Adler and RM-70 Vampire multiple launch rocket systems. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. Kyiv has previously said targeting Russia’s military, transport and energy infrastructure undermines Moscow’s war effort. Belgorod lies close to the border and is considered a vital stop for Russian supply lines. Russia’s defence ministry called Sunday’s salvo a “terrorist attack on residential areas”. Online footage showed rescuers searching for survivors among the remnants of the building’s stairwell, then fleeing the scene as part of the roof crashed to the ground.

The Russian defense ministry said on Sunday that its forces had captured four villages in Kharkiv, in addition to five villages reported to have been seized on Saturday. Ukraine did not confirm the claims.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday that fighting was going on in a string of villages in the Kharkiv region. In his nightly video address, Zelenskiy also noted fierce battles in various parts of Donetsk region to the south-east. He said “defensive battles” were taking place along large sections of the border in Kharkiv.

The town of Vovchansk, among the largest in the north-east with a prewar population of 17,000, emerged as a focal point in the battle. Volodymyr Tymoshko, the head of the Kharkiv regional police, said on Sunday afternoon that Russian forces were on the outskirts of the town and approaching from three directions. “Infantry fighting is already taking place,” he said.

Tymoshko said Russian tactics in Vovchansk mirrored those used in the battles for Bakhmut and Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, in which heavy aerial attacks were accompanied by droves of infantry assaults. “Now the Russians are simply wiping it [Vovchansk] off the face of the earth and advancing with the scorched earth method. That is, they first scorch a specific area and then the infantry comes in, and they always advance in this way,” he said.

At least 4,000 civilians have fled the Kharkiv region since Friday, when Moscow’s forces launched the operation, Gov Oleh Syniehubov said in a social media statement

Russian President Vladimir Putin removed his longtime ally Sergei Shoigu as defence minister in the most significant reshuffle to the military command since Russian troops invaded Ukraine more than two years ago. In a surprise announcement, the Kremlin said Andrei Belousov, a former deputy prime minister who specialises in economics, will replace Shoigu. Putin proposed that Shoigu take the position as head of Russia’s powerful security council.

Lithuanians voted on Sunday in a presidential election expected to hand a new term to incumbent Gitanas Nauseda, a staunch supporter of Ukraine in its two-year war with Russia, after a campaign focusing on security concerns in the Baltic states. Across the region, voters are worried the former Soviet republics that make up the Baltics, now members of the Nato military alliance and the European Union, could be the targets of Russian aggression in the future.

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