Though Russia might claim a victory with the annexation of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk area, it falls short of Moscow’s grandiose early-war objectives and does not give Kyiv a major military blow.
According to military strategists, the Russian attack will now shift its emphasis to the remainder of the Donbas industrial heartland, but Kyiv will find it easier to maintain reinforced positions in the Donetsk area, and the battles that will determine the war’s trajectory still lie ahead.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised his forces on “liberating” the Luhansk area, giving awards for bravery and urging them to relax. Three Russian cosmonauts delivered a message of congratulations from orbit.
According to Rob Lee of the US-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, Russia’s early war goals extended much beyond the Donbas and seizing the Luhansk area, and likely included a change of government or at least shifting ex-Soviet Ukraine’s westward orientation. They also included the “demilitarization” of Ukraine.