Ukrainian troops pose for a photo in Lyman, Ukraine in this photo posted on social media October 1, 2022.
Oleksiy Biloshytskyi | Oleksiy Biloshytskyi Via Reuters
On Sunday, Ukraine said it had full control of the logistics hub east of Lyman, Kyiv’s most important battlefield interest in weeks, which a senior official said could provide a base for gain further benefits in the east.
“As of 12:30 (09:30 GMT), Lyman has been fully cleared,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a short video clip on his Telegram channel.
There was no comment from the Russian armed forces on Sunday about the state of the city. On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said it was withdrawing troops from the area “in connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement.”
The latest stinging setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin comes after he announced the annexation of four regions that make up nearly a fifth of Ukraine’s territory on Friday, one that includes Lyman.
Kyiv and the West have condemned the statement as an illegal farce.
Russian forces captured Lyman from Ukraine in May and used it as a logistics and transport hub for their operations in the northern Donetsk region. Losing it was Russia’s biggest battlefield loss since Ukraine’s blitzkrieg in the northeastern region of Kharkiv last month.
Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region that neighbors Donetsk, said control of Lyman could help Ukraine regain lost territory in its region, which Moscow announced it had taken in its entirety last year. early July after weeks of progressive efforts.
“The liberation of this city in the Donetsk region was one of the important factors leading to the continued occupation of the Luhansk region,” Gaidai wrote on the messaging app Telegram on Sunday.
On Saturday, Zelenskyy promised more rapid success in the Donbas, including the Donetsk and Luhansk regions largely under Russian control.
“In the past week, the number of Ukrainian flags in the Donbas has increased. There will be more than one week,” Zelenskyy said in an evening speech.
The areas Putin claims to be annexed – the Donbas region and the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – form a territory equal to about 18 percent of Ukraine’s total land area.
The defeats on the battlefield sparked a new wave of criticism within Russia over its handling of military activity.
Putin’s ally, Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s southern Chechnya region, on Saturday called for a change of strategy “from the very moment the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of nuclear weapons low productivity.”
Other top officials, including former President Dmitry Medvedev, have suggested that Russia may need to use nuclear weapons, but Kadyrov’s call was the most urgent and clear.
Washington says it will respond unequivocally to any use of nuclear weapons.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday said Lyman’s capture would create new problems for the Russian military.
“We’re very encouraged by what we’re seeing right now,” Austin said at a press conference.
Austin noted that Lyman was positioned on the supply lines that Russia used to push its troops and material south and west, as the Kremlin pushed for its more than seven-month invasion in Ukraine.
“Without those routes, it would be more difficult. So it presents a kind of dilemma for the Russians of the future.”