Russia now controls 80% of the Luhansk oblast in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, the Luhansk governor said, according to The Associated Press.
Before Russia invaded on February 24, the Ukrainian government controlled about 60% of Luhansk, which is one of two regions that makes up the Donbas.
Gov Serhiy Haidai said Russia has stepped up its attacks in Luhansk and captured the city of Kreminna. Now, the Russian forces are moving to take the cities of Rubizhne and Popasna.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia was starting a new “stage” of its invasion of Ukraine as attacks increased in the east. Fighting is also raging in the Donestk oblast in the Donbas.
Russia has made clear that its current focus in Ukraine is on “liberating” the Donbas as its forces have withdrawn from the northern areas near Kyiv. The separatists in the breakaway republics of Donestk and Luhansk first declared independence in 2014 after the US-backed ousting of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.