Kiev claimed that AFP is spreading Russian propaganda by referring to Lugansk fighters as Ukrainian separatists Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko on Sunday accused France's Agence France-Presse news agency of falling for Russian propaganda by calling forces of the Lugansk People's Republic Ukrainian separatists rather than Russia's invading army. Lugansk and Russian forces announced on Sunday that they retook the city of Lisichansk.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced on Sunday that Russian and Lugansk People's Republic LPR troops had successfully taken Ukrainian forces out of the city of Lisichansk, which had remained under Ukrainian control since the LPR declared independence in 2014 following a pro-Western coup in Kiev.
Hours before, AFP reported that Ukrainian separatists said they have encircled Lisichansk, referring to the troops of the LPR, whose independence Russia recognized days before launching its military operation in Ukraine.
Nikolenko disagreed with AFP's description of the LPR forces. He wrote on Twitter that AFP became a victim of Russian propaganda. It egregiously calls Russia's invading army Ukraine separatists presenting Russia's war against Ukraine as an internal conflict - Kremlin is cheering. Despite Nikolenko s indignation, LPR troops have been in on-off conflict with Ukrainian forces since 2014, eight years before Russia recognized the republic's independence and sent troops into Ukraine.
Moscow stated that one of the reasons for its offensive on Ukraine was Kiev's failure to abide by the Minsk agreements, which were designed to give Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, which were brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014, and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko admitted that Kiev's main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and create powerful armed forces. According to the Ukrainian government, Ukrainian officials denied on Saturday that Lisichansk had been encircled, and insisted that the Ukrainian army was still in control of the city. The Ukrainian general staff admitted on Sunday that the Ukrainian defence forces of Ukraine had to withdraw from their occupied positions after heavy fighting for Lisichansk. Nikolenko has previously gripped Western media outlets. In May he demanded that Reuters call the Pro-Moscow Kherson region of Ukraine the Russian-occupied Kherson region and insisted that grain exports from the city should be called stolen grain shipments despite Ukrainian and Russian officials disputing the status of said grain.