Russia announced today that its forces have taken full control of the Ukrainian city of Lyman, a railway junction in the Donetsk region, which will help prepare for the next stage of the Kremlin's offensive in the Eastern Donbas, BTA reported.

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For several days, Ukrainian and Russian forces have been fighting for Lyman.

The town is 40 kilometers west of Severodonetsk - the largest city in Donbass, which is still under Ukrainian control, but is already under massive attack by Russian forces.

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The Lyman railway junction opens the way to the big cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, AFP reports.

"As a result of joint actions by militias of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Russian armed forces, the city of Lyman was completely liberated from Ukrainian nationalists," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a special statement, confirming a statement issued the day before by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The governor of the Luhansk region, which together with Donetsk makes up the entire Donbass region, said yesterday that Russian troops had entered Severodonetsk, which is the focus of Russia's main offensive.

The Russian offensive shows a change in the dynamics of the war, Reuters notes.

Although Russian forces invading Ukraine on February 24 failed to capture Kyiv in the early stages of the conflict, they are making slow but steady progress in the Donbas, much of which was already controlled by Moscow-backed separatists before the war.

Tactics include massive artillery bombardment and air strikes that devastate large and small Ukrainian settlements.

Also today, Russia said it had used missile strikes to destroy Ukrainian command posts in Bakhmut and Soledar.

The two small towns are on an important road southwest of Lisichansk and Severodonetsk.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said today that in the last 24 hours, the Ukrainian forces have repulsed 8 attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk.

The Russian attacks included artillery strikes in the Severodonetsk region, but "without success", the Ukrainian General Staff said.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine