Russia's defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said Sunday that Moscow's forces have taken the strategic Ukrainian city of Lysychansk and now control the entire region of Lugansk, which has been the target of fierce battles in recent weeks.
"Sergei Shoigu has informed the commander in chief of the Russian armed forces, Vladimir Putin, of the liberation of the People's Republic of Lugansk," the defence ministry said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.
Russian forces and their separatist allies have taken "full control of Lysychansk and other nearby towns, notably Belogorovka, Novodruzhesk, Maloryazantseve and Bila Hora," the statement said.
AFP was unable to verify the information from independent sources.
A few minutes prior to the announcement, a spokesman for the Russian defence ministry had said that fighting was ongoing in Lysychansk and that Ukrainian forces were "completely" surrounded.
The regional governor of Lugansk, Sergiy Gaiday, said on Telegram on Sunday that "the Russians are reinforcing their positions in the Lysychansk region. The city is on fire."
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