Russian astronauts aboard the International Space Station on Monday celebrated Russia’s occupation of the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, a significant milestone for Moscow in the war.
The Russian space agency Roscosmos described Moscow’s occupation of the Luhansk region as “an liberation day to celebrate both on Earth and in space”.
The agency posted smiling photos of cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergei Korsakov as they held flags of Russia’s proxies, the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.
“It is a long-awaited day that residents of the occupied Luhansk region have been waiting for eight years,” Roscosmos wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
“We are convinced that July 3, 2022, will forever remain in the history of the (Luhansk People’s) Republic.”
Russia announced on Sunday that Russian and separatist forces have regained full control of the Luhansk region after capturing its last major city, Lisichansk.
Ukraine, which has vowed to regain lost territory, said its troops had withdrawn from their last remaining stronghold in the region to save the lives of their soldiers. Kyiv said its troops would be regrouped to counter-attack with long-range Western weapons.
After being repelled in its initial attempt to capture the capital Kyiv in February, Russia has focused on driving out Ukrainian forces from the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where Moscow-backed separatists followed Russia’s first military intervention in Ukraine in 2014. Fighting with Kyiv.
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