STORY: The capture of the city of Lysychansk on Sunday (July 3) completed the Russian conquest of Luhansk, one of two regions in Donbas, the industrialized eastern region of Ukraine that has become the site of the biggest battle in Europe in generations.
Both sides have suffered heavy casualties in the fight for Luhansk, particularly during the siege of the twin cities of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk. Both cities have been left in ruins by relentless Russian bombardment.
During a brief televized meeting with his defence minister, Putin congratulated Russian forces on "victories in the Luhansk direction."
Local residents who stayed in Lysychansk during the fierce fighting for the city finally got a chance to leave their shelters and take stock of what had happened to their home town.
Olga, a 67-year-old pensioner walked in her neighbourhood and told a Reuters reporter about what she wanted to do most.
"I'm going to see my kids who are in Russia. That's what I'm going to do," said Olga, "Hopefully I stay alive," she added.
Reuters traveled to to Lysychansk aa part of a media facility organised by Russia-backed separatists in Luhansk.