Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday, July 4, to continue their offensive in Ukraine. This comes after Russia claims victory as they took control of the entire Luhansk region after capturing the city of Lysychansk last July 3. The capture of Lysychansk was a significant victory for the Kremlin in the four months since they started their invasion of Ukraine. The city was the last Ukrainian hold out after weeks of long but slow advance on the Russian side.
After reporting their successful capture of the city of Lysychansk on Sunday, Putin told Shoigu, “Military units, including the East group and the West group, must carry out their tasks according to previously approved plans.” The Russian President hopes the “special military operation” continues in the same direction as in Luhansk.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s trying to recuperate. In a Telegram message, the Governor of Luhansk Serhiy Haidai announced, “The city is on fire.” This comes after reports that the Russian forces relentlessly bombarded the city of Lysychansk with their artillery in the hopes of blasting out the Ukrainians defending the city.
In late June, the Russian forces took over Lysychansk’s neighboring city, Severodonetsk. With both towns under its control, Russia can easily position its troops to attack cities to the southwest. These cities include Kramatorsk, Sloviansk, and Bakhmut.
True enough, according to a report by BBC, the Russian bombardment of the neighboring cities in the Donetsk region has intensified, targeting Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.
According to the city’s mayor, a heavy bombing in Sloviansk killed at least six people. The six casualties included a 10-year-old girl.
It is also important to remember that Kramatorsk is one of the last major cities in Donetsk under Ukrainian control. Therefore, if the city falls, it will significantly impact the Russian control over Donetsk.
With their successful capture, Russia is one step closer to its goal after diverting its focus on the “liberation” of the Donbas region after failing to capture Kyiv at the early onset of the invasion. This victory is also one of Russia’s biggest wins after capturing Mariupol. With Luhansk now in their hands, Moscow can now focus their attention on the capture of Donetsk.
Lost the Battle, But Not the War
When they lost the city and relinquished control of Luhansk to the Russian forces, Governor Haidai said it was painful but added, “This is just one battle we have lost, but not the war.”
He told BBC that the region had been abandoned earlier and that soldiers had been repositioned in new locations. In a report from Reuters, he said that the soldiers from Lysychansk were now preparing to fend off the Russian advance and holding the line between Sloviansk and Bakhmut.
Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Rob Lee said Ukraine’s new position should be easier to hold than its previous position in Luhansk. According to him, Russia’s capture of Luhansk was “something that Putin can show as a sign of success,” but it doesn’t mean that “Ukraine will have to concede or give in any time soon.”
When talking about why they had to leave the city, the governor said that there was a threat that the Russian forces would encircle them. He also said, “Our military could have held the city for a long time, but Russia currently has a huge advantage in artillery and ammunition. They would have simply destroyed the city from a distance, so there was no point in staying”
He added, “We needed to save our troops, so that when enough weapons arrive, we can conduct normal operations and counterattack.”
The governor pleaded to the West for more weapons to balance out the advantage the Russians now had after capturing the now fallen city. He said that Ukraine needs long-range artillery as their current arsenal of weapons, including howitzers and multiple rocket systems, is not enough, and they need more.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky echoed this clamor and called on the West for more weapons. The country needs the weapons to defend against the Russian forces and retake their lost territories.
In a video address on Sunday night, Zelensky promised they would retake the lost territory with the help of the long-range weapons the West would supply them.
He said, “We will rebuild the walls, we will win back the land, and people must be protected above all else.”