Now that Mariupol is in full control, the Russian army is fully focused on occupying the rest of Donbass, an area in the far eastern Ukraine (see maps). It consists of two provinces, Lugansk and Donetsk (where Mariupol is located), part of which was declared independent in 2014 by pro-Russian rebels, the so-called Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. Russian President Putin recognized the entire provinces as independent territories two days before the invasion began. The goal now is to take control of those entire counties.
In Lugansk, the city of Severodonetsk became increasingly besieged and under fire. It is almost the last place of the Ukrainian resistance. If the city fell, then almost the entire Lugansk province would be in the hands of the Russians. According to the British Ministry of Defense, the Russians have made some progress recently, despite fierce Ukrainian resistance.
In the Donetsk province, a larger part is in the hands of Ukraine. “In fact, the front line that has been in Donetsk since 2015 has not moved,” said VRT NWS journalist and Russian expert Jan Baliao, who is currently in Ukraine. “The Russians are now making efforts to make progress there as well, but everything is going very slowly.”
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