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Ukraine Forces Retake Lyman, a Strategic City, as Russians Retreat

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RIVNE, UKRAINE — Russian troops withdrew from the strategic city of Raiman in eastern Ukraine on Saturday. This was a humiliating setback for President Vladimir V. Putin, just one day after he illegally declared the surrounding area to be part of Russia.

The Ukrainians’ attack on Lyman, a rail hub leading to the mineral-rich Donbass region, underscored their determination to attack territory now claimed by Putin.— Raising the dangers of war, where a nuclear-armed Russia has declared it will use “all available means” to defend the land it considers to be its own.

Russia’s withdrawal has been blamed among Putin’s powerful allies for the recent losses, accusing Russian military leaders of incompetence and blaming them. After Mr Putin delivered a menacing speech in Moscow on Friday, announcing the annexation of parts of Ukrainian territory and positioning the war as a struggle for survival between Russia and Russia, it sparked an impressive wave of internal dissent. It was a manifestation. Western elite.

The annexation was widely condemned as illegitimate by the United States and its allies. The Biden administration quickly announced new sanctions as punishment.

Lyman sits on the banks of the winding Sibersky Donets River, which has served as a natural dividing line between the Russian and Ukrainian fronts since Russian forces occupied the city in May. Reclaiming it would provide the Ukrainian military with a strategic foothold for further expansion into the Donbas region, which has been the focus of Putin’s agenda.

Lyman’s arrest also puts further pressure on the Kremlin, which has faced backlash at home for conscripting hundreds of thousands of men to fight in Ukraine.

The Battle of Lyman was fought for several weeks before suddenly collapsing as the Russians feared being surrounded and leaving. The Ukrainian dispatches the paratroopers to give the world victory in a video of his two grinning soldiers unfurling their country’s blue-and-yellow flag and taping it to the city’s demarcation sign. Announced.

The military “will always have the decisive vote in today’s and future ‘referendums’,” said the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. wrote in a tweetin a pointed reference to Russia’s fake vote for annexation in Ukrainian territory.

After hours, The Russian Defense Ministry has announced that it will withdraw troops from the city.

In a statement posted on the messaging app Telegram, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said “in connection with the emerging threat of encirclement, coalition forces have withdrawn from the city to a ‘more favorable’ location.

For Russia, less than 24 hours after Putin delivered Friday’s speech, he delivered the most harrowing speech of the war. In that speech, he denounced the United States as “satanic” and Western powers as “enemies” and “deceitful and hypocritical”. and walk through.

He said the West, given its brutal colonial history, “has no moral right” to condemn the annexation of parts of Ukraine, calling the world “their vassals, the so-called civilized nations, and It was divided into “all other people”.

Putin said residents of the four regions of Ukraine partly controlled by the Ukrainian military would “permanently” become citizens of Russia, adding that Russia would “use all forces and means at our disposal”. ‘I will protect them,’ he added.

He again raised the specter of the use of nuclear weapons by cryptically pointing out that the atomic bomb dropped on Japan by the United States in 1945 “set a precedent.”

Ukrainian officials have consistently said they would ignore Russia’s territorial claims and push for counteroffensives around the port city of Kherson in eastern and southern Ukraine.

A senior Pentagon official on Saturday hailed the Ukrainian military breakthrough at Lyman as a major success.

“Certainly, it is important,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. “We are very encouraged by what we are now seeing. Lyman straddles the supply lines of the Russian army, and they have taken advantage of those routes to push men and supplies south and west.”

Anger over Putin’s withdrawal from a powerful ally has spurred a chorus of pre-war Russian bloggers criticizing the government’s military leadership.

Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Chechen Republic in southern Russia. I have written On the Telegram messaging app, Russia’s top military commander said that the “incompetent” general should be “covered” and that the general should be “sent to the front to wash away the shame with blood”. Kadyrov said he told Russia’s chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, that troops on the Lyman Front were left without adequate communications and supplies of ammunition.

Evgeny Prigozhin is a businessman close to Mr. Putin who heads the Wagner Group, an army of mercenaries fighting for Russia in war. issued Statement an hour later agreeing with Mr. Kadyrov.

“Send all this rubbish barefoot and with machine guns straight ahead,” said Prigozhin, apparently referring to the Russian military leader.

Public criticism by these influential figures in Russia’s war effort suggested Mr Putin would face even greater pressure from his inner circle of hawks to escalate the war.

But even as the Russians were losing the battle on the ground, they were unleashing a barrage of rockets, drones and missiles from the air.

The deadliest strike landed in Zaporizhia on Friday. This is his one of four Ukrainian regions the Kremlin has claimed in a hoaxed annexation. The attack splattered debris onto queues of some 200 civilian cars and minivans, laden with luggage and passengers, at checkpoints and bus stops to visit relatives and on the front lines carrying medical supplies and other humanitarian aid. was waiting to enter Russian occupied territory to

According to Ivan Fedorov, mayor of the occupied town of Melitopol, 30 people were killed, including two children, and another 118 were injured. This would make him one of the deadliest solo attacks on civilians in recent weeks.

Witnesses described eerie scenes of casualties littering the streets.

“Depending on the distance, there were people lying near the car and some distance away, dead,” an explosion rang out.

“I lay on the ground to wait for it,” said Natalia, who said the second blast shattered the car’s windows and was followed by about 10 more explosions.

Two of her passengers, a man and a woman, died and two others were injured.

Maya Muravyova, a volunteer with Help People, a non-governmental group that helps internally displaced people, said several vans carrying humanitarian aid were lined up.

“It can be called an act of terrorism,” she said. “It has peaceful population, no military bases or soldiers at all. It’s where humanitarian workers and people leave to cross the front lines.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the strike So did Brigitte Brink, the US Ambassador to Ukraine.

Also on Friday, rockets recently acquired by the Russian military and an Iranian-made kamikaze drone hit a residential area in the southern Ukraine city of Mykolaiv, killing at least three people and injuring 19, the regional governor said. Stated. In the city of Dnipro he also killed one person and a fire destroyed him 52 buses.

On Saturday, Ukrainian officials said another Russian massacre of Ukrainian civilians had taken place the previous week when Russian soldiers opened fire on a convoy at close range. Heading to the recently liberated city of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region.

At least 24 people were killed, including 13 children and pregnant women, said Vasyl Mariuk, deputy head of the Ukrainian Security Service. In two of the cars, children and their parents were burned alive, security officials later added.

Independent confirmation of the details of the attack was not immediately possible. Russian officials did not immediately comment.

Ukraine’s recapture of Lyman has entered a new phase in the fight for the Donbass region, allowing Ukrainians to retake the territory before winter sets in, making Russian control of the region uncertain. became.

The advance of Ukrainian forces was a continuation of the army’s northeast offensive that routed Russian forces from dozens of villages and recaptured more than 1,000 square miles of the Kharkov area last month.

In recent days and weeks, Ukrainian forces have also approached from the south and west.

Analysts say that if Ukrainian forces continue to advance, their next target will likely be the city of Svatove, northeast of Ryman.

Russian forces in Donbas, depleted and out of position, may face two options. Either shift resources from other parts of the front to slow Ukraine’s advance, or continue to slowly lose parts of the region.

The slow Ukrainian offensive in the south towards the port city of Kherson has been greatly overshadowed by events in the east. Fighting there is still fierce as it shows.

Thomas Gibbons Neff Reported from Rivne, Ukraine, Andrew E. Kramer Kyiv, Ukraine, Anton Troianovsky from Berlin and Catherine Porter From Paris. Matthew Mpork Big Contributing to the report from London, Valerie Hopkins from Berlin and Michael Schwartz Originally from Kyiv, Ukraine.

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