Ukraine says its forces have reached Lyman and surrounded Russian troops

  • Ukrainian soldiers raise the flag at the entrance to Lyman
  • Lyman is a major logistical hub in eastern Donetsk region
  • Donetsk is one of four regions that Putin claims are now Russian

KYIV, Oct 1 (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces reached the entrance to the eastern bastion of Lyman on Saturday after encircling thousands of Russian troops, retaliating the Kremlin with a battlefield a day after it declared partial surrender. of Russia.

Capturing Liman would be a major setback for Russia after President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of the Donetsk region to three other regions in a ceremony in Moscow on Friday condemned as a farce by Kiev and the West.

Two smiling Ukrainian soldiers wave the yellow and blue national flag at the “Lyman” welcome sign at the entrance to the city in the north of Donetsk region, a video released by the president’s chief of staff showed.

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“Oct. 1. We take down our state flag and install it on our land. Lyman will be Ukraine,” said one of the soldiers, standing on the bonnet of a military vehicle.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern forces said Russia has between 5,000 and 5,500 troops in Lyman, but the number of encircled troops may be lower due to casualties.

“The Russian group in the Lyman region has been surrounded,” spokesman Serhii Serevaty said on television.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia’s last operational update was Friday evening. On Saturday, the ministry’s Telegram channel posted a series of congratulatory messages, including one from Putin, to mark the military holiday Ground Forces Day.

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Logistics Hub

Russia has used Lyman as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the north of the Donetsk region. Its fall is Ukraine’s biggest battlefield gain since a lightning counteroffensive in northeastern Kharkiv last month.

A Ukrainian military spokesman said the capture of Lyman would allow Kiev to advance into the Luhansk region, the full capture of which Moscow announced in early July after weeks of slow, grinding advances.

“Lyman is important because it is the next step towards the liberation of the Ukrainian Donbass. It is an opportunity to go further to Kreminna and Severodonets, and it is very important psychologically,” he said.

Together, the Donetsk and Luhansk regions make up the wider Donbas region, which has been Russia’s main focus since Moscow’s invasion began on February 24.

Serevati said operations around Lyman were still ongoing and Russian troops were making unsuccessful attempts to break out of the encirclement.

“Some are surrendering, many of them have been killed and wounded, but the operation is not over yet,” he said.

Ukraine’s exiled governor of Luhansk said Russian forces had asked for a safe withdrawal from the encirclement, but Ukraine had rejected the request.

Ukrainian civil servants told Reuters they had no such information.

At the Friday ceremony, Putin declared the Donbass regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia, to be Russian land – an area equivalent to about 18% of Ukraine’s total territory.

Ukraine and its Western allies branded Russia’s move illegal. Kyiv has vowed to continue liberating the land from Russian forces and said it will not hold peace talks with Moscow while Putin is president.

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Editing by Frances Kerry and Gareth Jones

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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