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Russia claims control of Luhansk region of Donbas

STORY: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy acknowledged on Sunday that Kyiv’s forces had withdrawn, from Ukraine's last stronghold in the Luhansk region.

Russia said its capture of the city of Lysychansk, just a week after taking neighboring Sievierodonetsk, secures a political win that meets a key Kremlin goal.

Over the weekend, evacuees from the Luhansk region sought shelter in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, after a relentless assault by Russian forces.

Three-year-old Ofelia Bondar escaped Lysychansk with her mother Nina.

"The city doesn't exist any more. It has practically been wiped off the face of the Earth. There is no humanitarian aid distribution centre, it has been hit. The building which used to house the centre does not exist any more. Just like many of our houses."

Zelenskiy vowed to regain control over the area with the help of long-range Western weapons.

He also met with Western officials on Sunday who promised to send more aid to Ukraine, including Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

"Australia stands ready to continue to support the government and the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes for Ukraine to emerge victorious in defense of your national sovereignty and your homeland.”

The battlefield focus now shifts to the neighboring Donetsk region, where Kyiv still controls swathes of territory.

First responders moved to tackle the aftermath of the latest shelling over the weekend.

Moscow aims to capture the industrial Donbas heartland that comprises of Luhansk and Donetsk.

In a small Ukrainian village, a funeral service was held for a soldier killed in the east of the country.

Thousands of civilians have been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine, which Moscow denies.

Russia says what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine aims to protect Russian speakers from nationalists.

Ukraine and its allies say this is a baseless pretext to seize territory.

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