Putin declares victory in Luhansk province after Ukrainian forces pull back – National

Russian Chairperson Vladimir Putin on Monday declared victory in the east Ukrainians Luhansk region, a day after Ukrainian forces withdrew from their last remaining stronghold in the province.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin in a televised conference on Monday that Russian forces had taken control of Luhansk, which together with the neighboring Donetsk province make up Ukraine’s industrial heartland in Donbas.

Shoigu told Putin that the “operation” was completed on Sunday after Russian troops overran the city of Lysychansk, the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in Luhansk.

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In turn, Putin said that military units “that have participated in active wars and achieved success and victory” in Luhansk, “should rest, strengthen their combat capabilities”.

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Mr Putin’s statement comes as Russian forces try to step up their offensive deeper into eastern Ukraine after the Ukrainian military confirmed that its forces had withdrawn from Lysychansk on Sunday. Luhansk Governor Serhii Haidai on Monday said Ukrainian forces had withdrawn from the city to avoid encirclement.

“There is a risk of a siege of Lysychansk,” Haidai told the Associated Press, adding that the Ukrainian army could hold out for a few more weeks but it is likely to pay too high a price.

“We managed to make a centralized retreat and evacuate all the wounded,” Haidai said. “We got all the devices back, so from this point on, the withdrawal was well organized.”

Click to play video: 'Russia accused of civilian bombing campaign and escalation of attacks in Ukraine'

Russia accuses civilian bombing campaign and escalation of attacks in Ukraine

Russia accuses civilian bombing campaign and escalation of attacks in Ukraine

The General Staff of Ukraine said that Russian forces are currently focusing their efforts on pushing towards the Siversk, Fedorivka and Bakhmut front lines in the Donetsk region, about half of which is controlled by Russia. The Russian military has also increased its artillery shelling on key Ukrainian strongholds in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, deeper into Donetsk.

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On Sunday, six people, including a nine-year-old girl, were killed in Russian shelling in Sloviansk and injured 19 others, according to local authorities. Kramatorsk was also shot on Sunday.

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An intelligence briefing on Monday from the British Ministry of Defense backed up the Ukrainian military’s assessment, noting that Russian forces “now almost certainly” will move to capture Donetsk. The press conference said the conflict in Donbas was “severe and negative”, and was unlikely to change in the coming weeks.

While the Russian military has a great advantage in firepower, military analysts say that the army does not have any significant advantage in terms of numbers. That means Moscow lacks the resources to gain ground spoils quickly and can only advance slowly, relying on heavy artillery and rocket trolleys to soften Ukraine’s defenses.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the whole of Donbas a key target of his war in Ukraine, now in its fifth month. Moscow-backed separatists in Donbas have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014 when they declared independence from Kyiv after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea. Russia officially recognized these self-proclaimed republics days before invading Ukraine on 24 February.

Click to play video: ''I need to do whatever I can'': Canadian man fighting on the front lines of Ukraine'

‘I need to do whatever I can’: Canadian man fighting on Ukraine’s front lines

‘I need to do whatever I can’: Canadian man fighting on Ukraine’s front lines

In his nightly video speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged the withdrawal, but stated that Ukrainian forces would fight their way.

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“If the commander of our troops withdraws from certain points of the front, where the enemy has the greatest fire advantage, especially as this applies to Lysychansk, it simply means: We will back thanks to his tactics, thanks to the increase Zelenskyy said.

Since failing to capture Kyiv and other areas of northeastern Ukraine during the war, Russia has focused on the Donbas, unleashing fierce artillery fire and engaging in door-to-door skirmishes that devastated cities. in the area.

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The Russian invasion has also devastated Ukraine’s agricultural industry, disrupting the supply chains of seeds and fertilizers needed by Ukrainian farmers and halting the export of grain, a major source of the country’s revenue.

In its intelligence report on Monday, the British Ministry of Defense pointed to Russia’s blockade of the vital Ukrainian port of Odesa, which has severely restricted grain exports. They predict as a result Ukraine’s agricultural exports will reach only 35% of total 2021 production this year.

As Moscow stepped up its offensive through eastern Ukraine, areas in western Russia were hit on Sunday with a resurgence of apparently sporadic Ukrainian attacks across the border. The governor of the Belgorod region in western Russia said debris from an intercepted Ukrainian missile killed four people on Sunday. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, in the Russian city of Kursk, two Ukrainian drones were shot down.

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Click to play video: 'Ukraine says village in Odesa hit by rocket, Russia denies involvement'

Ukraine says village in Odesa hit by rocket, Russia denies involvement

Ukraine says village in Odesa hit by rocket, Russia denies involvement

In other developments:

_ Ukrainian soldiers returning from the front lines in the Donbas region, eastern Ukraine _ where Russia is waging a fierce offensive _ depicts life in a period that turns into a brutal war of attrition like the end of the world. position.

_ Two Russian planes left Bulgaria on Sunday with Russian diplomats and their families amid a mass deportation that has raised tensions between historically close countries, a diplomat said. Russian delivery said.

Associated Press journalists Maria Grazia Murru and Oleksandr Stashevskyi contributed from Kyiv, Ukraine.

© 2022 Canadian Press

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