Russia claimed Saturday that its soldiers and separatist fighters had captured an important railway junction in eastern Ukraine. This was the second small city to be taken by Moscow’s forces as they fight to seize the entire country’s contested Donbas.

Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, stated that Lyman was “completely freed” by a combined force of Russian soldiers with the Kremlin-backed separatists who have been fighting in the eastern region bordering Russia’s east for eight years.

Lyman, with a population of approximately 20,000 at the time that Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, is now a regional railway hub. The train system of Ukraine has been used to evacuate citizens and transport arms during wartime. It wasn’t immediately known how this development would affect either capability.

The Russian military would have a strong base to attack larger cities in Donetsk or Luhansk held by the Ukrainians, which are the two provinces that comprise the Donbas. Russia has been concentrating on seizing those parts of the region that aren’t controlled by separatists since it failed to occupy Kyiv.

The British Ministry of Defense stated in a Saturday assessment that “if Russia succeeded in taking over these regions, it would highly likely to be seen by Kremlin als a substantive political accomplishment and be portrayed before the Russian people as justifying invasion.”

Saturday’s fighting continued around Sievierodonetsk (and nearby Lysychansk), twin cites which are the last major areas under Ukrainian control within Luhansk Province. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, reiterated the difficulty of the situation in eastern Ukraine but expressed his confidence that his country will prevail.

“If the occupiers believe that Lyman or Sievierodonetsk is theirs, they are mistaken.” He said that Donbas would be Ukrainian.

Russian troops seized Svitlodarsk on Tuesday. This small town is located south of Sievierodonetsk and hosts a thermal power plant. They also intensified their efforts to capture and encircle the larger city. To avoid being surrounded, the governor of Luhansk advised that Ukrainian soldiers may have to withdraw from Sievierodonetsk.