Ukraine’s forces have withdrawn from the bombed-out city of Lysychansk, prompting Russia to claim full control of the eastern Luhansk region, a key Kremlin war goal, but President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed to regain the lost territory, Reuters News Agency reported Monday.
Ukraine on Sunday said the tactical withdrawal would save the lives of its soldiers who would regroup to launch a counter offensive with the help of long-range Western weapons.
But Moscow said the capture of Lysychansk less than a week after taking neighbouring Sievierdonetsk meant it had “liberated” Luhansk. It said it would give the captured territory to the self-proclaimed Russian-backed Luhansk People’s Republic whose independence it recognised on the eve of the war.
The battlefield focus now shifts to the neighbouring Donetsk region, where Kyiv still controls swathes of territory.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin that Luhansk had been “liberated”, the defence ministry said, after Russia earlier said its forces had captured villages around Lysychansk and encircled the city.