Putin: Victory in Luhansk 07/05 05:37
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday declared victory in the eastern
Ukrainian region of Luhansk, one day after Ukrainian forces withdrew from their
last remaining bulwark of resistance in the province.
POKROVSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday
declared victory in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, one day after
Ukrainian forces withdrew from their last remaining bulwark of resistance in
Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin in a televised
meeting Monday that Russian forces had taken control of Luhansk, which together
with the neighboring Donetsk province makes up Ukraine's industrial heartland
Shoigu told Putin that "the operation" was completed on Sunday after Russian
troops overran the city of Lysychansk, the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces
Putin, in turn, said that the military units "that took part in active
hostilities and achieved success, victory" in Luhansk, "should rest, increase
their combat capabilities."
Putin's declaration came as Russian forces tried to press their offensive
deeper into eastern Ukraine after the Ukrainian military confirmed that its
forces had withdrawn from Lysychansk on Sunday. Luhansk governor Serhii Haidai
said on Monday that Ukrainian forces had retreated from the city to avoid being
"There was a risk of Lysychansk encirclement," Haidai told the Associated
Press, adding that Ukrainian troops could have held on for a few more weeks but
would have potentially paid too high a price.
"We managed to do centralized withdrawal and evacuate all injured," Haidai
said. "We took back all the equipment, so from this point withdrawal was
The Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces were now focusing their
efforts on pushing toward the line of Siversk, Fedorivka and Bakhmut in the
Donetsk region, about half of which is controlled by Russia. The Russian army
has also intensified its shelling of the key Ukrainian strongholds of Sloviansk
and Kramatorsk, deeper in Donetsk.
On Sunday, six people, including a 9-year-old girl, were killed in the
Russian shelling of Sloviansk and another 19 people were wounded, according to
local authorities. Kramatorsk also came under fire on Sunday.
An intelligence briefing Monday from the British Defense Ministry supported
the Ukrainian military's assessment, noting that Russian forces will "now
almost certainly" switch to capturing Donetsk. The briefing said the conflict
in Donbas has been "grinding and attritional," and is unlikely to change in the
While the Russian army has a massive advantage in firepower, military
analysts say that it doesn't have any significant superiority in the number of
troops. That means Moscow lacks resources for quick land gains and can only
advance slowly, relying on heavy artillery and rocket barrages to soften
Putin has made capturing the entire Donbas a key goal in his war in Ukraine,
now in its fifth month. Moscow-backed separatists in Donbas have battled
Ukrainian forces since 2014 when they declared independence from Kyiv after the
Russian annexation of Ukraine's Crimea. Russia formally recognized the
self-proclaimed republics days before its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Since failing to take Kyiv and other areas in Ukraine's northeast early in
the war, Russia has focused on Donbas, unleashing fierce shelling and engaging
in house-to-house combat that devastated cities in the region.
Russia's invasion has also devastated Ukraine's agricultural sector,
disrupting supply chains of seed and fertilizer needed by Ukrainian farmers and
blocking the export of grain, a key source of revenue for the country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his nightly video address,
called for immediate economic aid to help the country rebuild even as fighting
"The restoration of Ukraine is not only about what needs to be done later
after our victory, but also about what needs to be done right now. And we must
do this together with our partners, with the entire democratic world," he said.
"A significant part of the economy has been destroyed by hostilities and
Russian strikes. Thousands of enterprises do not work. And this means a high
need for jobs, to provide social benefits, despite the decrease in tax
revenues," Zelenskyy said.
In its Monday intelligence report, Britain's defense ministry pointed to the
Russian blockade of the key Ukrainian port of Odesa, which has severely
restricted grain exports. They predicted that Ukraine's agricultural exports
would reach only 35% of the 2021 total this year as a result.
As Moscow pushed its offensive across Ukraine's east, areas in western
Russia came under attack Sunday in a revival of sporadic apparent Ukrainian
strikes across the border. The governor of the Belgorod region in Western
Russia said fragments of an intercepted Ukrainian missile killed four people
Sunday. In the Russian city of Kursk, two Ukrainian drones were shot down,
according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
In other developments:
-- Ukrainian soldiers returning from the front lines in eastern Ukraine's
Donbas region -- where Russia is waging a fierce offensive -- describe life
during what has turned into a grueling war of attrition as apocalyptic.
-- Two Russian airplanes departed Bulgaria on Sunday with scores of Russian
diplomatic staff and their families amid a mass expulsion that has sent
tensions soaring between the historically close nations, a Russian diplomat