Three Russian cosmonauts unfurled the flags of the self-proclaimed separatist territories of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine aboard the International Space Station (ISS), according to a Telegram post by the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

“We celebrate both on land and in space,” says the publication that carries photos of cosmonauts Oleg Artemiev, Denis Matveiev and Sergei Korsakov with the flags of both “republics” of eastern Ukraine aboard the ISS.

“Russian and Lugansk forces achieved full control of Lisichansk, the last major city of the LPR”, the so-called Lugansk People’s Republic, they said.

On Sunday, Ukrainian forces announced their withdrawal from this strategic city, making it easier for the Russian military and pro-Russian separatists to gain control of the Lugansk region.

“We are convinced that July 3, 2022 will forever be etched in the history of the Republic. Citizens of the allied Donetsk People’s Republic, wait!” Roscosmos added in his post.

The taking of Lisichansk was capital for the Russian plan to conquer all of Donbas, an industrial basin partly controlled by the pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

For the Ukrainian forces, the urgency now is to contain the Russian advance to the west, where two large cities in the neighboring Donetsk region, Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, are located.

Conforms to The Trust Project criteria