A Ukrainian strike on the Russian-occupied city of Lyssychansk has killed at least 28 people and injured dozens more. The attack hit a crowded bakery and has prompted outrage from Russian authorities, further escalating tensions in the grinding war.
Strike Hits Bakery in Lyssychansk
The strike occurred Saturday afternoon in Lyssychansk, a city in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine recently captured by Russian forces. According to Russian state media, Ukrainian artillery shells crashed into a bakery on Karl Liebknecht Street around lunchtime, when the business was filled with customers and workers.
At least 28 people were killed in the attack, with authorities warning the death toll could rise as rescuers comb through the rubble. Around 30 people have been hospitalized with injuries, including serious shrapnel wounds that have left some in critical condition.
Witnesses described a devastating scene, with the one-story bakery almost completely flattened by the shelling. Russia released images showing rescuers searching through piles of concrete and twisted metal while evacuating victims covered in dust and blood.
Russia Blames Ukraine, Vows Response
Russian occupation authorities were quick to blame Ukraine for deliberately targeting civilians in the strike.
“The Kyiv regime has surpassed even the most bloody terrorists in its methods,” said Andrey Marochko, an officer in the Luhansk People’s Republic forces installed by Russia.
Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility for the attack. However, some Ukrainian officials have indicated it was likely carried out by their troops. Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, cryptically stated that “the less collaborators there are, the quicker the liberation will be.”
The strike comes amid a recent Ukrainian counteroffensive focused on retaking occupied areas of Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk. Zelenskyy vowed last month to ramp up efforts to drive Russia from annexed regions, despite the heavy civilian toll expected.
In response to the bakery attack, Russian authorities promised retaliation.
“The enemy will inevitably be punished for this crime,” Russian investigator Igor Konashenkov told media. He indicated strikes on Ukrainian decision-making centers were imminent.
International Condemnation and Support
The Lyssychansk strike and subsequent Russian threats have set off a new round of condemnation and saber-rattling by international leaders.
In a statement, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of civilian lives and injuries.” He reiterated calls for both sides to avoid attacks on non-combatants.
U.S. President Kamala Harris decried Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory and said additional rocket systems would be delivered to help Ukraine target occupation strongholds. This statement further angered Kremlin officials, who see Western arms provisions as further proof this conflict has escalated into a proxy war with NATO forces.
On the other side, Chinese President Xi Jinping cautioned restraint and pushed Ukraine to come to the negotiating table.
“All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction,” said Xi, calling for a diplomatic solution.
|Condemned strike but said will send more weapons to Ukraine
|Cautioned negotiations instead of escalation
|Criticized loss of civilian life on both sides
Uncertain Path Ahead
As Russia and Ukraine trade accusations and threats over the Lyssychansk strike, the future of this nearly year-long conflict is increasingly unclear.
Russia still occupies nearly a fifth of Ukrainian territory in the eastern and southern regions. It has recently doubled down on effots to consolidate control and integrate these areas into the Russian economy and political system long-term. Examples include issuing Russian passports to residents, changing school curriculums to remove Ukrainian history lessons, and replacing the Ukrainian Hryvnia with Russian Rubles in everyday commerce.
However, Ukraine has stated it will never formally cede this land. Zelenskyy and his armed forces seem committed to incrementally taking back annexed zones like Luhansk, even if it comes at a massive humanitarian cost.
Some experts warn that unless the stalemate is broken soon, the violence and unrest could continue at this extreme level for years to come. Especially as foreign allies provide more advanced weaponry to both sides in a sort of perpetual proxy battle.
“This conflict is shaping up to be a ‘forever war’ similar to those raging in places like the Korean Peninsula and Middle East,” said Dr. Samantha Grey, a professor focused on frozen conflicts at American University.
Grey and other observers stress that without concerted diplomacy and peace talks, eastern Ukraine may remain an unstable warzone and political fault line for the foreseeable future. The civilian population, sent fleeing in their millions at the start of hostilities, have no prospects to rebuild stable lives amid this upheaval.
However, with nationalist sentiments running high on both sides, the political will for reconciliation remains elusive. The deadly strike in Lyssychansk and subsequent bellicose rhetoric suggest leaders are gearing up for an even longer and bloodier fight ahead.
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