Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Sunday that Russia has conquered the vital Ukrainian city of Lysychansk and now controls the whole Luhansk area. Russia and Ukraine were engaged in fierce warfare for the territory in east Ukraine. ‘Sergei Shoigu has notified the commander in chief of the Russian armed forces, Vladimir Putin, of the liberation of the People’s Republic of Lugansk,’ the defence ministry said in a statement reported by Russian news media.
According to the statement, Russian forces and their separatist allies have gained ‘complete control of Lysychansk and several neighbouring towns, most notably Belogorovka, Novodruzhesk, Maloryazantseve, and Bila Hora’. The AFP news agency stated that it was impossible to independently verify the statements made by Russian news outlets. A few minutes before the declaration, a Russian defence ministry spokesperson claimed battle was still going on in Lysychansk and that Ukrainian forces were ‘totally’ surrounded.
President Volodymyr Zelensky’s advisor already stated that the city may fall. Russia already has sovereignty over Severodonetsk, Lysychank’s sister city. Control of Lysychansk might provide a boost to Russia’s efforts to strengthen its grip on east Ukraine.
Following the commencement of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Russian soldiers attempted to take the Ukrainian capital Kyiv but were repulsed by Ukrainian forces. Since then, Russia has focused its energy on taking control of the Donbas area in east Ukraine. Russia has historically supported pro-Russian rebels in the Donbas area. The list of Russia-controlled cities in Ukraine continues to increase with the addition of Lysychansk. Mariupol and Severodonetsk are already under Russian hands.