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Russia claimed Sunday it had captured the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk, which would give the Russian military full control of eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region—a major victory four months into its invasion—though Ukrainian officials disputed the claim that Russian forces had taken control of the entire city.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin forces had taken total control of Lysychansk—a city with nearly 100,000 residents—and several surrounding towns, according to a statement from Russia’s Ministry of Defense.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry spokesperson Yuriy Sak denied the claim in an interview with the BBC, saying the city is not under full control of Russian troops, but Ukrainian troops could withdraw “from certain areas so that we can retake them in the future.”
Albina Kusheleva, communications director of Luhansk Oblast Administration, also told the Kyiv Independent the Russian military only controls one section of the western portion of the city.
The Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment Saturday that Ukrainian troops likely conducted a deliberate withdrawal out of Lysychansk, and Ukraine’s counterclaims were probably “outdated or erroneous.”
Forbes could not independently verify Russia’s claims, and Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February, but its military has focused in recent months on capturing eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions—known collectively as the Donbas—scaling back its goals after meeting stiff Ukrainian resistance and failing to capture major cities like Kyiv. Russia has made gains in the Donbas region in recent weeks, including the capture of the city of Lyman in May and the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Severodonetsk last month. Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk region military administration, said earlier Sunday in a Facebook post that Russian troops had used more brutal tactics than in Severodonetsk to overcome resistance, according to a Washington Post translation. Russian troops will likely establish control of the entire Luhansk region within days, and then will focus on Ukrainian positions west of Lysychansk, including cities like Siversk, Slovyansk and Bakhmut, according to the Institute for the Study of War’s assessment Saturday.
$6.92 billion. That’s how much security assistance the U.S. has sent to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February, including a $820 million package authorized on Friday, according to the State Department.
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