(Reuters) – Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station on Monday celebrated Russia’s seizure of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine, a milestone for Moscow in the war.
The Russian space agency Roscosmos described Moscow’s seizure of the Luhansk region as “a day of liberation to be celebrated on Earth and in space.”
The agency published pictures of cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov raising the flags of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine, the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic.
“This is the long-awaited day for which the residents of the occupied territories of the Luhansk region have been waiting for eight years,” Roscosmos wrote in the Telegram messaging application.
“We are convinced that July 3, 2022 will remain forever in the history of the (Luhansk People’s Republic)”.
Russia announced on Sunday that Russian and separatist forces had taken full control of the Luhansk region after capturing its last major city, Lyschansk.
Ukraine, which has vowed to recover the lost territories, said its forces withdrew from their last remaining stronghold in the region to save the lives of its soldiers. Kyiv said its forces would regroup to launch a counterattack with the help of long-range Western weapons.
Repelled in its initial attempt to seize the capital Kyiv in February, Russia has focused on driving Ukrainian forces out of the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Kyiv since Russia’s first military intervention in Ukraine in 2014.
(Report from Reuters)
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