On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in the Luhansk Oblast in eastern Ukraine, a day after Ukrainian forces withdrew from the city of Lysychansk, the last area they held in the region.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told Putin in a televised meeting that the “operation” in Luhansk was completed. Putin congratulated the Russian military on “liberating” the oblast and ordered military units that participated in the fighting to “rest, increase their combat capabilities.”
Russia is now focusing its offensive in eastern Ukraine on areas in the Donestk Oblast. Together, Luhansk and Donestk make up the region known as the Donbas, the capture of which has been a priority for Moscow since it invaded Ukraine, and more so since early April, when Russian forces withdrew from the northern areas near Kyiv and Chernihiv.
After the US-backed coup in Kyiv in 2014, separatists in the Donbas declared the Donestk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR). Fighting between the Ukrainian government and the separatists killed over 10,000 people between 2014 and February 24 of this year, when Russia invaded. Right before launching the offensive, Putin recognized the independence of the breakaway republics.