Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered his forces to continue their offensive in eastern Ukraine after seizing the entire Lugansk region.
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The Russian Armed Forces “must carry out their missions according to the plans already approved,” Putin said during a televised interview with his Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
“I hope that everything will happen in their sectors as it happened in Lugansk,” he added.
These statements come on the day after the announcement of the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from the strategic city of Lysytchansk, a takeover that completes control of the Lugansk region by Russian forces and Moscow-installed separatists.
The Lugansk region and neighboring Donetsk region make up the Donbass, a mining basin in eastern Ukraine that Moscow’s forces aim to capture entirely.
Mr. Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, said Monday that Moscow’s troops were “de-mining the city of Lysytchansk.”
Mr Putin also hinted that two of his generals, Alexander Lapin and Essedoulla Abatchev, will be named “Heroes of Russia” for their role in the fighting in Ukraine, without further details.
Russia, which keeps this type of information very secret, recently revealed the names of two generals, Sergei Surovikin and Alexander Lapin, responsible for the Lysytchansk offensive.
On Monday, Mr. Poutine indicated that these two men reported directly to him (Montag) on the progress of the execution of their missions and their proposals for the continuation of offensive operations.
The capture of Lysytchansk, which formed a strategic sluice with its sister city Severodonetsk, allows Russian forces and separatists to advance more easily west and into the key cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the two largest Donbass cities still controlled by the Kiev army will .
On Monday, a senior separatist official, Vitali Kiseliev, said troops from Moscow are now advancing on the village of Siwersk from two directions, en route to Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.