Following the capture of the city of Lysychansk, Russia controls all of the Luhansk region, one of Putin’s stated war goals.
Next in the Russian sights is the Donetsk region, which together with Luhansk makes up the Donbas.
However, Ukrainian forces have dug into defensive positions in the area and Russian troops will face an “extremely determined Ukrainian resistance”, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
As Russian forces move to consolidate their forces in Luhansk, it is very likely the next key battle will take place in the Ukrainian held city of Sloviansk in Donetsk.
The MoD said in a tweet: “Russia likely continues to consolidate its control over Lysychansk and Luhansk Oblast. To the north, it has committed most of the remaining available units from the Eastern and Western Groups of Forces to the Izium axis.
“Over the last week, Russian forces have likely advanced up to another 5 km down the E40 main road from Izium, in the face of extremely determined Ukrainian resistance.
“Russian forces from the Eastern and Western Groups of Forces are likely now around 16 km north from the town of Sloviansk.
“With the town also under threat from the Central and Southern Groups of Forces, there is a realistic possibility that the battle for Sloviansk will be the next key contest in the struggle for the Donbas.”