Putin may agree to peace talks if war in Ukraine enters 'deep-freeze'


General Lord Dannatt spoke as Kremlin forces gloated yesterday of having “full control” over the Luhansk region.

If it is true, Russia and its separatists now reign over the crucial Donbas region.

Moscow said troops had encircled and were “completely defeating the Ukrainian enemy” in the stronghold of Lysychansk. Defence minister Sergei Shoigu even informed Putin that Luhansk had been “liberated”, the ministry said.

Russian footage showed a pro-Putin militia marching through Lysychansk. Last night Ukraine’s military confirmed the city had fallen.

The army general staff said: “After heavy fighting for Lysychansk, the defence forces of Ukraine were forced to withdraw from their occupied positions and lines.”

General Lord Dannatt suggested Russia’s Donbas campaign could mark the end of its active attempt to advance.

He said: “They very nearly achieved taking the Luhansk province, and then they will turn their sight to try and get control of Donetsk. At that stage, I believe the Russians will be exhausted.

“They won’t have won the war, but they will have achieved some of what they wanted, getting those two Donbas provinces. Ukrainians will also be exhausted, so the Russians won’t have won, the Ukrainians won’t have lost.

“At that point, I think the war will effectively go into the deep freeze and that’s when meaningful negotiations are going to have to start.”

Meanwhile, Russia blamed Kyiv for blasts in its city of Belgorod, about 25 miles north of the border with Ukraine. At least five people were said to have been killed.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility, but says such incidents are payback for deadly Russian shelling that has flattened hospitals, shopping centres and schools.

In Ukraine’s Russian-occupied southern city of Melitopol, Kyiv forces struck a military base more than 30 times yesterday. Exiled mayor, Ivan Fedorov, said it had been “taken out of action”.

At least six were killed and 15 injured in Ukraine’s eastern city of Slovyansk by intense Russian shelling.



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