Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed on Sunday that Russian forces had “full control” over Lysychansk, the final city in the Luhansk region that was held by Ukraine. Despite initially denying the loss of Lysyhansk, Ukraine’s military command confirmed later on Sunday night that the tactical decision was made for Ukrainian troops to withdraw from the area.
It said that forces were made to withdraw from the city over fears of “fatal consequences”.
It added: “In order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky conducted a televised address to the nation on Sunday evening.
Mr Zelensky said: “If the commanders of our army withdraw people from certain points at the front, where the army has the greatest advantage in fire power, and this also applies to Lysychansk, it means only one thing.
“That we will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to the increase in the supply line of modern warfare.”
Mr Shoigu featured on a televised Russian state media news programme where he said: “Starting June 19, [Russian] formations and military units…in cooperation with units of the second corps of the people’s militia of the [self-proclaimed] Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and with the support of the southern group of troops … successfully carried out an offensive operation to liberate the territory of the Luhansk People’s Republic.”
He added that within two weeks the “Gorsky cauldron” area, Lysychansk and Severodonetsk were surrounded, and the Ukrainian army allegedly lost 5,469 soldiers in the battles.
Those troops who took part in the fighting for the “Luhansk People’s republic” will be rewarded for their “bravery”, according to Putin and now can “rest”.
READ MORE: Roe v Wade anti-abortion ruling will propel Trump into White House
“I congratulate you all and wish you all the best.”
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has done his best to bolster Ukrainian forces and said Ukraine “must have the strength to finish this war on the terms that President Zelensky has described.”
He added: “All of us understand that if Putin is not stopped in Ukraine, he will find new targets for his revanchist attacks and we are not defending some abstract ideal but the first principle of a peaceful world, which is that large and powerful countries cannot be allowed to dismember their neighbours and if this was ever permitted, then no nation anywhere would be safe.”