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Russia-backed separatists claim control in Luhansk; Ukraine air defence 'knocked out', says Russia

They claim to have captured the towns of Shchastia and Stanytsia Luhanska

Ukrainian soldiers ap Ukrainian soldiers in Luhansk | AP

Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine said they have captured the towns of
Shchastia and Stanytsia Luhanska in Ukraine's region of Luhansk, news agency Reuters claimed. 

At the same time, the Russian military says it has knocked out Ukraine's air defence assets and airbases. The Russian defence ministry said the Russian strikes have suppressed air defence means of the Ukrainian military, adding that the infrastructure of Ukraine's military bases has been incapacitated. It denied the claims that a Russian warplane was shot down over Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military, meanwhile, reported that it has shot down five Russian aircraft while fending off the Russian attack on the country. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he unleashed an attack on Ukraine in a televised address early Thursday, drawing international condemnation.

-Inputs from agencies

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