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Russia’s defence ministry, which says it does not target residential areas, said it had used high-precision weapons to destroy command centres and artillery in Donetsk, where Ukraine still controls some major cities.

Moscow ramped up its war rhetoric with Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin saying Ukraine had become a “terrorist state” that was doing everything to ensure Russia did not stop its invasion at the borders of the Donbas.

The remarks by the chairman of the lower house of parliament suggested Russia may wish to expand its stated war aims, having abandoned offensives on the capital Kyiv and second largest city Kharkiv in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance early in the conflict.

In another sign Russia is bracing for a long war, the Duma passed two bills in their first reading that would allow the government to oblige firms to supply the military and make staff work overtime to support the invasion.

Putin has told troops involved in capturing Luhansk — who would also be part of any attempt to capture cities in Donetsk — to “rest and recover their military preparedness”, while units elsewhere in Ukraine keep fighting.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a phone call he believed Ukraine’s military could retake territory recently captured by Russia.

Johnson updated Zelenskyy on the latest deliveries of British military equipment, including 10 self-propelled artillery systems and loitering munitions, which would be arriving in the coming days and weeks, a spokesperson said.

Zelenskyy adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Russia’s capture of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk — two medium-sized cities in Luhansk, now largely in ruins — came at a heavy human and financial cost for Moscow and took 90 days.



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