KYIV: Ukraine on Sunday (Oct 2) claimed full control of the eastern logistics hub of Lyman, Kyiv’s most significant battlefield gain in weeks, providing a potential staging post for further attacks to the east while heaping further pressure on the Kremlin.
The stinging setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin came after he proclaimed the annexation of four regions covering nearly a fifth of Ukraine on Friday, an area that includes Lyman. Kyiv and the West have condemned the proclamation as an illegitimate farce.
“As of 1230 (5.30pm, Singapore time), Lyman is fully cleared,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a short video clip on his Telegram channel. “Thank you to our troops … Glory to Ukraine!”
Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday that it was pulling troops out of the area “in connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement”.
It did not mention the city in its daily update on fighting in Ukraine on Sunday, although it said Russian forces had destroyed seven artillery and missile depots in the Ukrainian regions of Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Donetsk.
Russian forces captured Lyman from Ukraine in May and had used it as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the north of the Donetsk region. Losing it is Russia’s largest battlefield loss since Ukraine’s lightning counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last month.
Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region that neighbours Donetsk, said control over Lyman could prove a “key factor” in helping Ukraine reclaim lost territory in his region, whose full capture Moscow announced in early July after weeks of grinding advances.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence described Lyman as operationally important as it commanded a key road crossing over the Siverskyi Donets River, behind which Russia has been attempting to consolidate its defences.
Russia likely experienced heavy casualties during the withdrawal, the ministry said in a statement. Russia had 5,000 to 5,500 troops in the city before the Ukrainian attack, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern forces said on Saturday.