After taking the last Ukrainian stronghold of Lysychansk, Russia announced on Sunday that its forces and their allies had gained control of the eastern Ukraine region of Luhansk.
Ukraine has not yet responded, despite reports of intense combat in that region.
Luhansk and Donetsk provinces in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas area are where Moscow is concentrating its efforts after intense Ukrainian opposition prevented Moscow from seizing Kyiv after its invasion on February 24.
Since Russia’s initial military engagement in Ukraine in 2014, the area has been plagued with conflict between separatists backed by Moscow.
According to the Russian defense ministry, Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin that the city of Luhansk had been “liberated” after Russia had initially stated that its forces had taken towns around Lysychansk and surrounded the city.
Russian military and their allies in the region, according to the minister, “gained full control over the city of Lysychansk.”
Ukrainian officials have reported significant artillery barrages on civilian areas, claiming that allusions to “liberating” Ukrainian land are Russian military propaganda.
Russian forces seized Lysychansk on July 2 as a result of what analysts at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, called “a deliberate Ukrainian withdrawal from the city.”
Based on video evidence showing Russian soldiers casually strolling around the northern and eastern neighborhoods of Lysychansk, they concluded that there were either very few or no Ukrainian forces left.
It added that the video includes pictures from social media posts that were geolocated to prove where it was shot.
Before Russia declared its advance, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai had stated on the Telegram app, “The Russians are strengthening their positions in the Lysychansk area, the city is on fire.” They used very violent measures to attack the city.
Since Russia’s invasion, thousands of people have died and towns have been destroyed; Kiev accuses Moscow of purposefully focusing on killing civilians. Moscovia disputes this.
In Ukraine, Russia claims to be conducting a “special military operation” with the goal of defending Russian speakers against nationalists.
This, according to Ukraine and its Western allies, is only a cover for blatant aggression that wants to seize territory.