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Ukraine forces reach Lyman, cutting off thousands of Russian troops

The Jerusalem Post 2022-10-01 By Roman Meitav

A view shows captured Russian tanks with installed Ukrainian flags, as Russia © (photo credit: GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS) A view shows captured Russian tanks with installed Ukrainian flags, as Russia

Ukrainian forces reached the entrance of the eastern bastion of Lyman on Saturday after encircling thousands of Russian troops, Kyiv said, in a battlefield rebuttal to the Kremlin a day after it annexed Ukrainian territory to be part of Russia.

The capture of Lyman would be a major setback for Russia after President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of the Donetsk region, along with three other regions, at a ceremony in Moscow on Friday condemned by Kyiv and the West as a sham.

The Head of the President's Office Andriy Yermak published a video of Ukrainian soldiers standing at the Lyman sign at the entrance to the city, holding a Ukrainian flag. Russian troops have been occupying this Donetsk Oblast city since May.

"We are unfurling our state flag and establishing it on our land. Lyman will be Ukraine," one of the soldiers said, standing on the bonnet of a military vehicle.

Luhansk Oblast Governor Serhiy Haidai said that about 5,000 Russian soldiers were encircled by Ukraine's Armed Forces in Lyman in Donetsk Oblast.

"The occupiers asked their leadership for the opportunity to leave, which they refused. Now they have three options: to try to break through, surrender, or die together, " he said during a broadcast of the Ukranian FreeDom channel.

"The possibility of delivering ammunition to the city is already blocked," he said, adding that the Russian troops won't be able to exit the city.

Lyman is important because it is the next step towards the liberation of Donbas, according to Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesman of Ukraine's Eastern Operational Command.

"The Russian group in the Lyman area is surrounded. The settlements of Yampil, Novoselivka, Shandrygolovo, Drobysheve, Stavky have been liberated. Stabilization measures are ongoing there," he said.

"The Russian group in the Lyman area is surrounded. The settlements of Yampil, Novoselivka, Shandrygolovo, Drobysheve, Stavky have been liberated. Stabilization measures are ongoing there."

Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman of Ukraine's Eastern Operational Command.

"It is an opportunity to go further to Kreminna and Sievierodonetsk (in Luhansk Oblast), and it is psychologically very important," Cherevatyi said.

According to the Institute for the Study of War, yesterday, on Sept. 30, Ukraine's Armed Forces cut Russian access to the Svatove-Lyman road, which is "the major ground line of communication sustaining the Russian grouping within Lyman itself." 

In contrast, Russia has claimed that its troops had withdrawn from Lyman due to the threat of encirclement, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a briefing on Saturday.

"In connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement, the allied troops were withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Liman to more advantageous lines," he said.

Russia did not explain how such a retreat would have been possible, considering Lyman is completely surrounded on all sides.

Russia's last operational update was on Friday evening. On Saturday, the ministry's Telegram channel published a series of congratulatory messages, including one from Putin, to mark an army holiday, Ground Forces Day.

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Russia's logistics hub

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

The Ukrainian military spokesperson said the capture of Lyman would allow Kyiv to advance into the Luhansk region, whose full capture Moscow announced at the beginning of July after weeks of slow, grinding advances.

"Lyman is important because it is the next step towards the liberation of the Ukrainian Donbas. It is an opportunity to go further to Kreminna and Sievierodonetsk, and it is psychologically very important," he said.

Donetsk and Luhansk regions together make up the wider Donbas region that has been a major focus for Russia since soon after the start of Moscow's invasion on Feb. 24.

Cherevatyi said the operation around Lyman is still underway and Russian troops are mounting unsuccessful attempts to break out of the encirclement.

"Some are surrendering, they have a lot of killed and wounded, but the operation is not yet over," he said.

Ukraine's exiled governor of Luhansk said Russian forces had asked for a safe exit out of the encirclement, but Ukraine rejected the request, according to Reuters.

Putin proclaims annexation of Ukrainian territories 

Putin proclaimed the Donbas regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be annexed to the Russian Federation in a ceremony on Friday.

Leaders and Governments worldwide condemned Russia's official declaration of the annexation of the Ukrainian territories, while Kyiv vowed to continue its eastern offensive, liberating its land from Russian forces and applying for a fast-track membership in NATO.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky proclaimed that Ukraine would not hold peace talks with Moscow as long as Putin remained president.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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