According to a post on Roscosmos, the Russian space agency’s Telegram channel, three Russian cosmonauts unveiled the flags of the self-proclaimed breakaway territories of Lugansk and Donetsk, Ukraine, at the International Space Station.
“We celebrate both on Earth and in space,” said a message on the ISS accompanied by photos of cosmonauts Oleg Artemiev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov waving the flags of these two “republics” of eastern Ukraine.
“Russian and Lugansk forces have established full control over Lysychansk – the last major city of the LPR (Lugansk People’s Republic),” they said.
On Sunday, Ukrainian forces announced their withdrawal from the strategic city, allowing the Russian military and pro-Russian separatists to complete their control of the Lugansk region.
“We believe that July 3, 2022 will forever remain in the history of the Republic. Citizens of the Allied Donetsk People’s Republic, wait!” Roscosmos added in its post.
The capture of Lysitchansk is key to Russia’s plan to conquer all of Donbas, an industrial enclave partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
For Ukrainian forces, the imperative now is to contain Russian advances westward and the two main cities of the neighboring Donetsk region: Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.