Russia may be succeeding in pushing into eastern Ukraine, but Volodymyr Zelenskiy has made it clear that his troops will not be deterred.
As the war in Ukraine escalated, Russia claimed another region of the country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared victory in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine after his forces drove Ukrainian fighters out of their last stronghold in the city of Lysichansk.
Putin made the announcement after a televised meeting in which Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed the Russian leader of the news.
Meanwhile, Luhansk Oblast Governor Sergei Gaidai told The Associated Press that Ukrainian forces were withdrawn from the region to avoid “encirclement” and mass casualties.
“We managed to conduct a centralized withdrawal and evacuate all the wounded,” Haidai said.
“We took all the equipment, so from now on the withdrawal was well organized.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has since acknowledged the withdrawal of troops from Luhansk in a late-night video address, but insists the country’s troops will continue to push back.
“If the command of our army withdraws people from certain points of the front, where the enemy has the greatest fire superiority … this means only one thing: we will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to an increase in the supply of modern weapons,” Zelensky said.
Russian troops turn towards Donetsk
Putin called on the troops “taking part in active hostilities [in Luhansk] and succeeded” to “rest [and] enhance your combat capabilities.
The Russian military is now expected to focus its attention on the neighboring Donetsk region, which includes the cities of Seversk and Bakhmut, as well as the village of Fedorovka, a region that Putin has been looking for because of its industrialization.
On Sunday, there were reports in the region of shelling in Ukraine of the strongholds of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, as a result of which six people, including a nine-year-old girl, were killed and 19 others were injured.
As Russia continues to move forward, military analysts have determined that the country’s “manpower” is under threat.
Russian troops may have a huge advantage in terms of firepower, but they are understaffed, which in turn will slow down the advance of the invasion.
More than 10,000 people have died since the start of the war nearly five months ago, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) project, with the most deaths recorded in Mariupol, Kharkiv and Belogorovka.
Russia investigates allegations of torture
Meanwhile, Moscow said on Tuesday it was investigating the torture of Russian soldiers held captive in Ukraine and recently released as part of a prisoner exchange with Kyiv in late June.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which investigates serious crimes, said in a statement that it was “checking the facts of inhuman treatment of captured Russian soldiers in Ukraine.”
Last week, Moscow and Kyiv exchanged 144 prisoners of war each, the largest exchange since Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine began on Feb. 24.
The Russian committee said the Moscow soldiers told investigators about the “violence they were subjected to.”
According to his statement, one of the soldiers said that Ukrainian doctors treated him without anesthesia and that he was “beaten, tortured with electricity” in captivity.
The soldier allegedly said that he had been left without food and water for several days. Another wounded Russian soldier who had his left arm amputated said he was badly beaten and his wound irritated by Ukrainian medics, the statement said.
The testimonies of the released Russian soldiers are examples of “violation of the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War,” the Russian Committee said.
NATO strengthens alliance
The process of ratification of Sweden and Finland as new NATO members was officially launched on Tuesday, said the head of the military alliance Jens Stoltenberg, which was a historic step caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“This is a good day for Finland and Sweden and a good day for NATO,” Stoltenberg told reporters in a joint press statement with the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland.
“With 32 countries at the table, we will be even stronger and our people even more secure as we face the biggest security crisis in decades,” he added.
Originally published as Putin claims victory in Luhansk, forcing Ukrainian forces to withdraw