Russia has announced it has complete control over the Luhansk region, well into the fifth month of the war on Ukraine. The announcement came after the Russian troops captured Lysychansk, the last Ukrainian holdout in the heavily Russian-speaking region in the east of the country. There is no official confirmation yet from Kyiv about the loss of Lysychansk.
According to the Russian defence ministry, Sergei Shoigu, the Defence Minister, informed President Vladimir Putin that Luhansk had been "liberated", Reuters reported.
One of the main goals of Russia's 'special military operation' in Ukraine was the liberation of the Luhansk region. The victory will give Russia more momentum in its attempts to take control over the key region of Donetsk.
Meanwhile, some military observers conclude that Ukraine might have made a tactical retreat from Lysychansk. "Ukrainian forces likely conducted a deliberate withdrawal from Lysychansk, resulting in the Russian seizure of the city on Jul 2," experts from the Institute for the Study of War, said, according to Reuters. The institute is a Washington-based think tank.
The Russian claim of control over Luhansk comes in a week that witnessed battles raging in different theatres across the region. On Sunday, Russian forces had struck military infrastructure around, Kharkiv, the large northeastern city under Ukraine's control.
At the same time, Ukrainian forces have apparently attacked Russian positions deep inside Russia, around 70km from Kharkiv. There was also an attack on Belgorod, with the Russian border, where civilians have been killed.
In another Ukraine offensive, air strikes targeted Russian-occupied southern city of Melitopol. Russia said it hit army command posts in Mykolaiv near the vital Black Sea port of Odesa in a significant offensive against Ukraine.