President Vladimir Putin declared victory in the neighboring province of Luhansk after months of brutal attrition warfare in which both sides lost many troops. Yesterday, Russian forces attacked targets in the eastern Donetsk area of Ukraine.
Donetsk and Luhansk make up the Donbas, the industrialized eastern region of Ukraine that has witnessed the bloodiest conflict in Europe in decades. Russia claims it intends to seize control of the Donbas region from Ukraine on behalf of rebels in two self-proclaimed people's republics sponsored by Moscow.
After Russian forces captured Lysychansk, the final bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk, Ukrainian officials expected Moscow to concentrate its efforts primarily on Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in Donetsk.
The governor of the Luhansk area, Serhiy Gaidai, told Ukrainian television that there was heavy combat at the region's border and that Russian regular army and reserve soldiers had been sent there in an apparent attempt to bridge the Siverskiy Donets River.
"A large quantity of equipment is being sent to the Donetsk region," Gaidai said, adding that Ukrainian forces were destroying vast quantities of Russian equipment and fuel, indicating that Moscow's soldiers "will have to take a break at some point."
Yesterday, according to local sources, Russian forces attacked a market and a residential neighborhood in Sloviansk, killing at least two and wounding seven.
Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Sloviansk and neighboring Kramatorsk had experienced severe bombardment overnight. There is no safe area in the Donetsk region without shelling.
Long war ahead?
Russia's defense ministry, which claims it does not target civilian areas, stated that it had destroyed command centers and artillery in Donetsk, where Ukraine still holds significant cities, with high-precision weaponry.
Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Duma, stated that Ukraine had become a "terrorist state" that was doing everything it could to prevent Russia from stopping its invasion at the border of the Donbas.
The chairman of the lower house of parliament suggested that Russia may desire to broaden its stated war objectives, having abandoned offensives against the capital Kyiv and the second-largest city Kharkiv in the early stages of the fight due to robust Ukrainian resistance.
In a further indication that Russia is preparing for a protracted conflict, the Duma passed two legislation in their initial reading that would allow the government to compel enterprises to supply the military and mandate extra work to fund the invasion.
Putin has ordered the forces involved in the conquest of Luhansk, who would also be a part of any attempt to conquer Donetsk cities, to "rest and recover their military preparedness." At the same time, other Ukrainian units continue to fight.
During a phone chat, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he felt Ukraine's forces could recapture land recently seized by Russia.
A spokeswoman stated that Johnson briefed Zelensky on the most recent delivery of British military equipment, including ten self-propelled artillery systems and loitering munitions, which would arrive in the following days and weeks.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a consultant for Zelensky, stated that Russia's conquest of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk, two medium-sized cities in Luhansk that are now mainly in ruins, came at a high human and financial cost and took 90 days.
Some military experts said that Russia's win in Luhansk provided its forces with a slight strategic advantage and that the war's fate remained uncertain.
Neil Melvin of the RUSI thinks tank in London remarked, "It's a tactical victory for Russia but at a tremendous cost."
Melvin predicted that the crucial battle for Ukraine would not occur in the east, where Russia is launching its primary push, but in the south, where Kyiv has launched a counteroffensive to regain land around Kherson.
According to Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional government, Ukrainian air defenses intercepted and destroyed three missiles fired by Russia's air force on Tuesday at Ukraine's western Black Sea ports of Ochakiv and Chernomorsk.
According to Oleksandr Senkevych, the mayor of Mykolaiv, a southern city on the key highway between Kherson and Odesa, was struck by Russian rockets earlier. The Khmelnytskyi, Sumy, and Dnipropetrovsk regions of Ukraine were also hit by Russian missiles or mortar fire, their governors announced through Telegram, but no casualties were reported.
Russia's invasion has resulted in the deaths of thousands, the displacement of millions, and the destruction of cities, mainly in the Russian-speaking regions of the east and southeast of Ukraine. As Ukraine and Russia are both essential grain producers, it has also increased global energy and food costs and stoked hunger fears in poorer nations.
According to official records, Ukraine has requested Turkey's assistance in investigating three Russian-flagged ships to investigate the alleged theft of grain from Russian-occupied territory. Russia denies stealing Ukrainian grain.
Kyiv and the West accuse Moscow of committing war crimes and executing an aggressive, imperialistic territorial grab in a fellow ex-Soviet republic. Moscow refutes this, describing its actions as a "special military operation" designed to undermine the Ukrainian military, weed out nationalists, and defend Russian speakers.