Russia Claims Full Control of Luhansk Region in Eastern Ukraine
MOSCOW - After fully capturing the city of Lysychansk, which was Ukraine's last stronghold, Russia is claiming full control of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine, after intense fighting and resistance from Ukrainian forces. Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu has informed Russian President Vladimir Putin, that the Luhansk region has now been "liberated."
Shoigu elaborated further stating that full control over Lysychansk as well as Belogorovka, Novodruzhesk, Maloryazantesevo, and Belaya Gora has been established by the Russian Armed Forces and the People's Militia of the LPR. Over the last day or so, control has been taken over an area that encompassed around 182 square kilometers.
"Russian forces and their allies in the area has gained full control over the city of Lysychansk" - Sergei Shoigu, Russian Defense Minister
After a structured and regrouping retreat from its attempt to capture Kyiv in February 2022, Russia began focusing its attention on the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists had claimed independence from Ukraine in 2014. Heavy fighting has been taking place there ever since.
Ukrainian officials did not comment immediately on the subject when requested, however, they are claiming that this report is only propaganda and there is still intense shelling from Russian artillery on residential areas in the city. Prior to Russia's announcement, Serhiy Haidai stated this on Telegram:
"The Russians are strengthening their positions in the Lysychansk area, the city is on fire... They attacked the city with inexplicably brutal tactics." - Serhiy Haidai, Luhansk Governor
A Washington-based think-tank has stated that more than likely after the Ukrainian forces had made a strategic withdrawal from the city, this resulted in Lysychansk being captured by Russian forces on July the 2nd. Their conclusion is based on open source intelligence, such as images and videos which display Russian forces haphazardly walking through the city streets, unconcerned about the whereabouts of local Ukrainian forces.
After the fall of Sievierdonetsk, last week, Lysychansk was the last stronghold of the Ukrainian forces in the Luhansk region. On Saturday, one of President Zelensky's advisors, Oleksiy Arestovych stated that Russian forces, for the first time, had managed to cross the river that stood between Sievierdonetsk and Lysychansk, creating a most dangerous situation. Though at the time, Russian forces had not taken the city, Arestovych stated that the fate of Lysychansk would be decided by no later than Monday.
With the Luhansk region under complete Russian control, the Russian Armed Forces will now be in a better position to target the city of Sloviansk, setting their eyes on a deeper control of the Donetsk region, which is still under Ukrainian control at the moment and this would be their next most likely target.
The Washington-based think-tank later stated in their report that even with their superior firepower, the Russian Armed Forces would more than likely have difficulty advancing in Donetsk, beyond the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.