Russia claims control of pivotal eastern Ukrainian province

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Russia has claimed control over the last Ukrainian stronghold in an eastern province that is key to achieving a major goal of Moscow’s grinding war.

The General Staff of Ukraine’s military reported Sunday that its forces had withdrawn from Lysychansk in Luhansk province.

Ukraine’s president acknowledged the withdrawal in his nightly video address but said his forces would return with more modern weapons.

If confirmed, Russia’s complete seizure of Luhansk would provide its troops with a stronger base from which to press their advance in the Donbas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is bent on capturing that region in a campaign that could determine the course of the entire war.