Heavy fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, officials say

Olga Voitovych and Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv

Ukrainian officials described heavy fighting throughout the Donetsk and Luhansk regions amid a Russian offensive in the Donbas.

Olena Symonenko, an adviser to the Deputy Head of the Office of the President, said in televised remarks late Thursday that over the last 24-hour period, 42 more settlements had come under Russian control in the Donetsk region.

“This happened today, so it may well happen that our armed forces will return them under our control tomorrow. But as of today, we understand that fierce hostilities are ongoing in these settlements. And people who stayed there are staying in the shelters or basements.”

Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said that Russian forces had been advancing in three directions toward the towns of Rubizhne, Popasna and Novotoshkivske.

“The enemy is trying to advance in the area of ​​Rubizhne,” he said. “The defensive battles with the enemy continue in the direction of the settlements of Novotoshkivske and Popasna.”

Some context: Haidai told CNN on Wednesday that 80% of Luhansk’s territory is under Russian control. Russian forces have made a greater effort in the last few weeks to direct their invasion toward taking parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.

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