Russia claims control of Ukrainian stronghold in east

Bilogorivka, Ukraine - Russia said Monday its forces had captured the Ukrainian village of Bilogorivka, one of the few remaining settlements in the eastern Lugansk region under Kyiv's control.

The remains of a destroyed school in which Ukrainian officials say 60 people sheltering in a basement died following a Russian military strike on the village of Bilogorivka, Lugansk region, eastern Ukraine, is pictured on May 13, 2022
The remains of a destroyed school in which Ukrainian officials say 60 people sheltering in a basement died following a Russian military strike on the village of Bilogorivka, Lugansk region, eastern Ukraine, is pictured on May 13, 2022  © Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

Lugansk is one of four Ukrainian regions that Moscow claimed to have annexed in 2022, and taking full control of it has long been a priority for the Kremlin.

"As a result of active combat operations, units of the Southern grouping of troops completely liberated the settlement of Bilogorivka," the Russian defense ministry said.

Bilogorivka, which had a population of about 800 people before the conflict, was a symbol of Ukrainian resistance in the Lugansk region and was retaken by Kyiv's forces in 2022.

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The Ukrainian army has come under intense pressure in the past two weeks, fighting off a fresh Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region while facing critical shortages of ammunition across the front lines.

Moscow claims to have made a string of gains in the past week.

Cover photo: Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

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