Ukraine-Russia War: Russian says it seized Lysychansk Oil Refinery - RIA

Russian missiles struck an apartment building and two holiday camps near Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa early on Friday, killing at least 19 people and wounding dozens.

 Smoke rises over the remains of a building destroyed by a military strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Lysychansk, Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine June 17, 2022. (photo credit: Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)
Smoke rises over the remains of a building destroyed by a military strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Lysychansk, Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine June 17, 2022.
(photo credit: Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)

Russian forces have reportedly captured the key Lysychansk Oil Refinery in the contested battleground city of the same name in the Luhansk Oblast of Ukraine's Donbas region, RIA reported citing the Russian Defense Ministry.

Notably, Reuters was unable to verify this claim.

The Russian Defense Ministry said they have managed to seize control of the refinery as well as a nearby mine, a gelatin plant and a nearby village, RIA reported.

According to Russia, Ukrainian troops have suffered heavy losses in the area around Lysychansk, including over 120 soldiers killed in one village in just one day, RIA reported.

 Firefighters work to put out a fire at Lysychansk Oil Refinery after if was hit by a missile at Lysychansk, Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine, April 16, 2022. (credit: MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS) Firefighters work to put out a fire at Lysychansk Oil Refinery after if was hit by a missile at Lysychansk, Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine, April 16, 2022. (credit: MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS)

Earlier Friday, Luhansk Oblast Governor Serhiy Haidai said Russian troops have already begun storming the refinery and have even seized control of parts of it, Ukrinform reported, citing the governor's Facebook posts.

According to Haidai, Russian forces have currently taken the northwestern and southeastern parts of the facility.

 Deserters

Moscow also said the number of Ukrainian deserters is growing.

"Failures of Ukrainian troops on the battlefield have provoked an increase in the number of deserters," Russia's Defense Ministry said, according to RIA. It further noted that the deserters are individual units and are not an organized withdrawal out of Lysychansk.

However, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) said that many Russian soldiers currently in the Russian-controlled Kherson Oblast are deserting and are attempting to flee into Crimea, according to Interfax.

These soldiers reportedly appeared in uniforms without insignia or headgear and were seen asking locals for food and water, hiding during the day and only moving at night as they approach Crimea and attempt to cross via t he Arabat Spit, Interfax reported, citing the GUR.

There have been many reported cases of Russian soldiers in the Kherson Oblast deserting. According to the Intelligence Directorate, the biggest reason is the heavy casualties sustained by Russian forces due to accurate Ukrainian artillery strikes.

 

Missile strikes and shelling

Russian missiles struck an apartment building and two holiday camps near Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa early on Friday, killing at least 19 people and wounding dozens, Ukrainian authorities said.

One missile struck the building in the village of Serhiivka in the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi district at about 1 a.m. (2200 GMT Thursday), killing 16 people, Odesa region emergency official Ihor Budalenkotold local television, adding that 41 people had been rescued.

Budalenkosaid rescue work was still ongoing to find people who could still be trapped in the building where 152 lived.

Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, said missiles also hit two holiday camps nearby.

Odesa Oblast Governor Maksym Marchenko put the total death toll at 18 and 31 hospitalized in a post on Telegram. He said Russia had used Soviet-era Kh-22 missiles, which all came from the direction of the Black Sea.

The Kremlin dismissed allegations that Russian missiles had struck an apartment building.

"I would like to remind you of the president's words that the Russian Armed Forces do not work with civilian targets."

Dmitry Peskov

"I would like to remind you of the president's words that the Russian Armed Forces do not work with civilian targets," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call with reporters.

Russian forces also launched numerous shelling attacks in the Kharkiv Oblast in northeastern Ukraine, killing four and injuring five, Ukrinform reported, citing Kharkiv Regional Military Administration head Oleg Synegubov.

Russia has denied targeting civilians since it invaded Ukraine in late February in what it calls a "special operation" to demilitarize its neighbor.

Civilian casualties due to Russian inaccuracy

Ukrainian officials have said a Kh-22 missile fired by a Russian bomber hit a crowded shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk on Monday, killing at least 19 people. That strike drew condemnation from Western leaders and the pope but Russia rejected Ukraine's account, saying the missile had struck a store of Western-supplied weapons next to the mall, causing it to catch fire.

A Ukrainian army general on Thursday said Russia was trying to hit military and critical infrastructure with its missile strikes but that because it was often using inaccurate Soviet missiles it was causing significant loss of civilian life.

This is supported by UK defense intelligence, which suggested the same thing.

He said 202 missiles had been fired on Ukraine in the second half of June, an increase of 120 from the first half of the month. He estimated that 68 civilian sites had been hit in the second half of June.

Casualties

Russia has suffered considerable casualties in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

According to the latest numbers by the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Russia has so far lost 35,750 soldiers, 796 artillery units, 105 air defense systems, 246 MLRSs, 217 airplanes, 186 helicopters, 15 ships, 645 drones, 1,577 tanks, 3,736 armored vehicles and 2,610 fuel tanks and other vehicles.

According to Russian estimates, Ukraine has so far lost 1,411 drones, 134 helicopters, 3,067 artillery units and mortars, 699 MLRSs, 3,873 tanks and other armored vehicles, 226 airplanes and 3,948 special military vehicles, RIA reported citing the Russian Defense Ministry. 

However, it is currently impossible to ascertain accurate figures for either side.