Russian forces declare victory over a key eastern Ukrainian province

After more than four months of intense fighting, Russia claimed victory over one of the two provinces in Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland. But that victory came at a steep price with Russian forces suffering heavy losses. Nick Schifrin reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    After more than four months of intense fighting, Russia has claimed victory over one of the two provinces in Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland.

    But that victory comes at a steep price, with Russian forces suffering heavy losses.

    Nick Schifrin brings us up to date.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    They made a wasteland and called it victory. Russian state television showed off its soldiers' handiwork in Lysychansk, a city that had to be destroyed to be captured.

    Journalists who entered with Russian forces filmed the symbols of Ukrainian governance gutted and overturned, but also the humanitarian center volunteers say was hit by 50 bombs, the market where civilian shopped, the church where they prayed in the same language as their Russian tormentors, residents no choice but to switch their loyalties east.

  • Olga, Lysychansk Resident (through translator):

    What am I going to do? I'm going to see my kids who are in Russia. That's all for now. Hopefully, I stay alive.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    And now Moscow is on to the next urban target, today a market in Slovyansk, where the mayor warned residents to evacuate, an apartment complex in Bakhmut,all doors and windows blown out by the Russian rocket whose remnants remain on the street.

    Over the weekend, Russian forces captured Lysychansk, the final Ukrainian-held city in Luhansk. That allows them to focus on the parts of the Donetsk region they don't already occupy, including today's targets, Slovyansk, Bakhmut, and Kramatorsk.

    That's where scores of residents lined up outside humanitarian center to pick up food. It's run by Jose Andres' humanitarian organization World Central Kitchen, each bag enough provisions for a month for those who've stayed; 83-year-old Valentina has nowhere else to go.

  • Valentina, Kramatorsk Resident (through translator):

    I'm not going anywhere. We have no money to go anywhere. What will be will be. If they kill me, they kill me.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in Luhansk, but also hinted the next phase could have to wait.

  • Vladimir Putin, Russian President (through translator):

    The units that took part in active hostilities and achieve success, victory in the Luhansk direction, of course, should rest and increase their combat capabilities.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    But Russia may have no other choice. Some Western artillery is arriving in Eastern Ukraine, giving Ukrainian soldiers more accuracy and mobility.

    It's an artillery war, as American Issac saw up close.

    Issac, Volunteer for Ukrainian Armed Forces: It's incredibly intense. I would say that it probably resembles World War II more than it does any of the more recent conflicts.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Issac, who requested we use only his first name, has been fighting with Ukraine's International Legion. He filmed this video in Severodonetsk as they came under artillery fire. He's now temporarily back in the U.S.

  • Issa:

    The artillery is both incessant and, on the Russian side, it's also indiscriminate. There are cities that don't exist, in the practical sense of the word. There are no services. The infrastructure is completely destroyed.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    You served in Iraq. You served in Afghanistan with the U.S. military. What's the difference?

  • Issac:

    We were the big guys. We had significant material assets. In this case, the tables are turned. In this case, we are outmanned and outgunned.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    And why are you going to go back?

  • Issac:

    The atrocities and the level of disregard for the rules of war that I have seen the Russians do, and I have also been inspired by the courage of the Ukrainian forces.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Ukraine now estimates that what the Russians have done will cost $750 billion to reconstruct. That's five times the country's GDP. And it's also the GDP of Switzerland, where, this week, European leaders pledged to help the country recover.

  • Ursula Von Der Leyen, President, European Commission:

    They want to undermine Ukraine's very existence as a state. We cannot and we will never let that happen.

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