It was on the other side of the border, this time, that civilians were killed. A series of “strong explosions” killed at least three people in the Russian city of Belgorod, said Sunday morning the governor of this region bordering Ukraine, which had already been hit by gunfire. Eleven buildings and 39 houses were damaged, forcing Russia to activate its anti-aircraft defenses. Its neighbor and ally Belarus also announced that its country had been the target of missiles and threatened to “retaliate”.

Heavy fighting raged all day Saturday in Lyssytchansk, a major city in eastern Ukraine, at the heart of the battle for control of Donbass. Conflicting information came from both sides. The spokesman for the Ukrainian National Guard assured that the city was “not surrounded and under the control of the Ukrainian army”, while the pro-Russian separatists said that the city was “totally surrounded”. The situation is in any case “extremely difficult”, in the words of President Volodymyr Zelensky, in the twin town of Severodonetsk because it constitutes an obligatory stage for Moscow, which would then like to advance towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

The city of Sloviansk, precisely, has been the target of Russian artillery for a week. Residential neighborhoods are targeted and, on Friday morning, four civilians were killed, according to the governor of the Donetsk region. The city’s mayor, Vadym Liakh, accuses Russian forces of using cluster munitions, banned by international treaties. In Drobropyllia, “there are at least two dead and three injured”, including two children aged four and seven, in Russian bombardments which destroyed several homes. The Ukrainian president accuses Russia of sowing “deliberate terror” by deliberately targeting civilian complexes and dwellings.

In the shadow of Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says little about the conflict in Ukraine. But on Friday he said his country had suffered strikes from Ukraine. “Praise be to God, our Pantsir anti-aircraft systems intercepted all missiles fired by Ukrainian forces,” he said, fueling speculation about the possible growing involvement of satellite country Moscow in the war. “We are provoked,” added Lukashenko, threatening to retaliate “instantly to any enemy strike against the territory of Belarus”. Belarus already serves as a rear base for Russian troops, but Vladimir Putin seems to expect more from his neighbour.

In his video address on Saturday, Volodymyr Zelensky reported “2,610 towns and villages under Russian occupation”, while pointing out that the Ukrainian army had liberated 1,027 of them. “Hundreds were completely destroyed by the Russian army , and must be totally rebuilt,” he said. The Russians control 19.2% of Ukrainian territory according to the Ukraine War Map. Before the war, they established their authority over less than 8% of the country.

The question of the reconstruction of the country will be at the heart of the conference in Lugano, Switzerland, which opens on Monday. “It is not only necessary to rebuild everything that the occupiers destroyed, but also to lay new foundations for our life, for a Ukraine, safe, modern”, advanced the president, aware of the “colossal investments” and the ” necessary reforms to be carried out.

Military authorities in the Kyiv region announced on Saturday that 48,000 explosive devices had been defused, on more than 17,700 hectares inspected. Half of Ukraine’s territory is considered dangerous and it will take years to remove all the mines and explosives buried in the ground. Since the beginning of the war, the demining services have worked to secure 62,000 hectares.