Russia claims control of East Ukraine

Russian troops in Ukraine

File Photo: Russian troops in Ukraine

Russia said on Sunday its forces and their allies have taken control of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, after capturing the final Ukrainian holdout of Lysychansk.

Ukraine is yet to comment about the claim after reporting heavy fighting there.

After fierce Ukrainian resistance prevented Russian seizing the capital Kyiv after its Feb. 24 invasion, Moscow turned its focus to taking full control of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting in the area since Russia’s first military intervention in Ukraine in 2014.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin that Luhansk had been “liberated”, the defence ministry said.

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The briefing was done after Russia earlier said its forces had captured villages around Lysychansk and encircled the city.

The minister said Russian forces and their allies in the area had “gained full control over the city of Lysychansk”.

Ukraine’s military did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ukrainian officials, who say references to “liberating” Ukrainian territory are Russian war propaganda, had reported intense artillery barrages on residential areas.

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