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Kyiv disputes Russia’s claim that it has ‘completely surrounded’ Lysychansk

More than 65 people were injured after a Russian airstrike on a shopping mall on June 27, according to Ukraine's State Emergency Service. (Video: Joy Yi/The Washington Post, Photo: Anna Voitenko/Reuters/The Washington Post)

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KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian national guard disputed a Russian politician’s claim Saturday that Moscow’s forces had “completely surrounded” Lysychansk, a bombarded Ukrainian city that is key to Russia’s efforts to capture the Donbas region.

The dueling claims about Lysychansk, in the Luhansk province, follow missile strikes that killed at least 21 people near the Black Sea port of Odessa on Friday and hit the southern city of Mykolaiv, where the mayor reported more explosions early Saturday. While the Kremlin denied targeting civilians, Kyiv said a 12-year-old boy was killed in the strike near Odessa that hit an apartment block and a recreation center.

Here’s what else to know

  • U.S. officials say Ukraine is dispersing weapons delivered by its Western allies around the country to avoid losses as the Russian military targets arms depots.
  • The death toll rose to 21 in the Russian airstrike that hit a shopping mall Monday in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk.
  • Moscow-backed separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine have charged British nationals Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill with fighting as mercenaries for Ukrainian forces, according to Russian state media.
  • Russian media suggested that arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year sentence in Illinois, may be exchanged for detained WNBA star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in an address to the nation on Sept. 21, framing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that seeks to use Ukraine as a tool to “divide and destroy Russia.” Follow our live updates here.

The fight: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive has forced a major Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.

Annexation referendums: Staged referendums, which would be illegal under international law, are set to take place from Sept. 23 to 27 in the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies. Another staged referendum will be held by the Moscow-appointed administration in Kherson starting Friday.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can help support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

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