Luhansk is one of two regions that make up Donbass, the eastern part of Ukraine where a conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists began in 2014.
The region has become the centerpiece of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military ambition in Ukraine after his troops failed to take control of Kyiv earlier this year.
The fall of Lysychansk brings Russia closer to its goal of taking control of Donbass.
“After heavy fighting for Lysychansk, the Ukrainian Defense Forces were forced to withdraw from their occupied positions and lines,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said on Twitter on Sunday.
Pro-Russian separatists in the region had previously claimed victory in the Battle of Lysychansk. Leonid Pasechnik, the leader of the self-proclaimed Russian-backed Luhansk People’s Republic, has declared the Lugansk region “liberated”.
Only Russia and Syria recognize the independence of the People’s Republic of Lugansk. Ukraine and its Western allies consider it part of Ukrainian territory, currently under Russian occupation.
Video shared by Russian news outlet Ria Novosti on Saturday claims to show residents erecting the former Soviet Union flag at the Memorial to the Fallen in Lysychansk.
Fate of Luhansk: The Institute for the Study of War said Russia is likely to establish control over the rest of the Lugansk region in the coming days. After that, the institute said in its latest update, Russian troops are likely to concentrate on Ukrainian positions in Siversk, west of Lysychansk, before heading towards Sloviansk and Bakhmut.
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