Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov pose with a flag of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic at the International Space Station (ISS), in this picture released July 4, 2022. Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.

Three Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) waved the flag of the self-proclaimed “People’s Republic” of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and congratulated Russian troops on taking over the region. “We’re celebrating both on earth and in space,” they wrote in a photo-accompanied message on the Telegram channel of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

Russian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists have taken complete control of Lysychansk, the “last big city” in the “People’s Republic” of Luhansk, said cosmonauts Oleg Artemiyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergei Korsakov.

On Sunday, after weeks of fighting, the Ukrainian army gave up defending Lysychansk. The Russian Defense Ministry had previously stated that the entire Donbass region of Luhansk had been “liberated” with the capture of the city.

“We are convinced that July 3, 2022 will forever go down in the history of the republic,” it said on the Roskosmos Telegram channel. Residents of the neighboring Donetsk “People’s Republic” were told to “wait”.