The Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, on Friday has said that Moscow was near to complete control of Ukraine’s eastern separatist region of Luhansk.
The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has sent the military over to Ukraine on February 24 to protect the Russian-speaking population there, specifically in the breakaway region of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Russia has acknowledged the independence of the separatist republics shortly before launching the military action.
“The liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic is nearing completion,” Shoigu said at a televised ministry meeting.
Alongside, Shoigu added that 1,908 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol.
Russia, in its recent move, has claimed the control over the strategic city in southeastern Ukraine in late April, keeping the remaining Ukrainian forces blocked inside the giant steel plant.
Shoigu said Ukrainian authorities in early May attempted to retake the strategic Snake Island in the Black Sea that was seized by Russian troops early in the conflict.
“This questionable action turned out to be a complete failure,” Shoigu said.
Snake Island became a sign of Ukrainian resistance after a radio exchange went viral at the beginning of the conflict, in which Ukrainian soldiers used an expletive to rebuff a demand by the Russian warship Moskva to surrender.
In mid-April, the Moskva fell in the Black Sea after what Moscow said was an explosion on board. Ukraine and the U.S. said the warship was hit with missiles.