"This happened today, so it may well happen that our armed forces will return them under our control tomorrow. But as of today, we understand that fierce hostilities are ongoing in these settlements. And people who stayed there are staying in the shelters or basements."

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Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said that Russian forces had been advancing in three directions toward the towns of Rubizhne, Popasna and Novotoshkivske.

"The enemy is trying to advance in the area of ​​Rubizhne," he said. "The defensive battles with the enemy continue in the direction of the settlements of Novotoshkivske and Popasna."