Ukraine claims full control of key logistics hub of Lyman, eyes further gains

Ukrainian troops pose for a photo in Lyman, Ukraine, in this picture released on social media on Oct. 1, 2022.

Oleksiy Biloshytskyi | Oleksiy Biloshytskyi Via Reuters

Ukraine said on Sunday it was in full control of the eastern Lyman logistics hub, Kyiv’s biggest battleground gain in weeks, which a senior official said could provide a springboard for further gains in the east

“As of 12:30 (09:30 GMT), Lyman is completely 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. The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday it was withdrawing troops from the area “in connection with the creation of an encirclement threat”.

The latest stinging setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin came after he announced on Friday the annexation of four regions covering nearly a fifth of Ukraine, an area that includes Lyman.

Kyiv and the West have condemned the proclamation as an illegitimate farce.

Russian forces captured Lyman from Ukraine in May and had been using it as a logistics and transportation hub for their operations in the northern Donetsk region. Losing it is Russia’s biggest battlefield loss since Ukraine’s lightning counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last month.

Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Donetsk’s neighboring Luhansk region, said control over Lyman could help Ukraine regain lost territory in his region, the full capture of which Moscow announced in early July after weeks of strong advances.

“The liberation of this city in the Donetsk region is one of the key factors for further unemployment in the Luhansk region,” Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday.

Zelenskyy on Saturday promised more rapid successes in the Donbas, which covers the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk that are largely under Russian control.

“Over the past week, the number of Ukrainian flags in Donbass has increased. There will be even more in a week,” Zelenskyy said in an evening speech.

The areas that Putin claimed as annexed—the Donbas regions and the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia—form a swath of territory equivalent to roughly 18 percent of Ukraine’s total area.

russian anger

The battlefield mishaps have sparked a new wave of criticism of Russia over how its military operation is being managed.

Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s southern Chechnya region, on Saturday called for a change in strategy “up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of nuclear weapons low performance”.

Other senior officials, including former President Dmitry Medvedev, have suggested that Russia may have to resort to nuclear weapons, but Kadyrov’s call was the most urgent and explicit.

Washington says it would respond decisively to any use of nuclear weapons.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday that 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 news conference.

Austin noted that Lyman was located across the supply lines that Russia has used to push its troops and equipment south and west as the Kremlin presses its invasion of Ukraine for more than seven months. .

“Without these avenues, it will be more difficult. So it presents a kind of dilemma for the Russians going forward.”

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