Officials say Ukrainian forces are encircling Lyman and besieging Russian forces

Kyiv – Less than 24 hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin proudly declared the illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, it now appears that thousands of his troops are trapped there.

Ukrainian armed forces spokesman Serhiy Sherivati ​​told the Washington Post on Saturday that Ukrainian forces have surrounded Lyman, a major transport hub in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. With Russian forces encircled, Ukrainian soldiers are now expected to retake full control of Lyman in the coming days.

A powerful counterattack and a seemingly imminent recapture of the Lyman will be an embarrassment for Moscow, a day after it claims parts of eastern Ukraine are its own – in the face of a widespread international spread. condemnation. Ukrainian forces advanced into the city overnight even when Russia set on Big party and pop concert On Red Square in Moscow to celebrate the annexation.

Sherivati ​​said Ukrainian forces have retaken four villages near Lyman as well as encircling the city, which is a major supply center on the western edge of Ukraine’s Donbass region. Denis Pushlin, the pro-Kremlin separatist leader, admitted Friday that the city was “almost encircled”, describing Kyiv’s advance as “extremely disturbing news”, threatening to “blackout” the annexation ceremonies.

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Unverified social media Video shot It was posted by the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff on Saturday apparently showing Ukrainian troops carrying out their own ceremonies, raising the blue and yellow flag near the outskirts of the city. Another video appeared to show soldiers stamping the Russian flag in the city.

The pro-Russian military bloggers also seemed to admit defeat in the city. An unknown Russian military blogger known as Rybar He said Saturday, routes out of the city were limited for Russian fighters, and “at this point, the tide cannot be turned.”

Meanwhile, the pro-Kremlin Telegram channel that has close ties with Wagner mercenary group mentioned that Russian forces in Lyman were “totally surrounded” with “unprecedented” measures underway to aid their release.” She added that it was impossible to withdraw troops from the city earlier due to Putin’s annexation ceremony and speech on Friday.

The battle is a test for Putin, who has vowed to treat the attacks in the annexed territories as attacks on Russia. Although the loss of the Lyman represents “serious damage to the reputation of the Russian Federation,” Ribar wrote, the fact that the accession treaties have not been definitively ratified and ratified by the Russian Parliament leaves the situation unclear.

Thousands of Russian troops are in the city, according to To the governor of the Luhansk Territory Serhiy Heidi, who said that “almost all routes of departure and transfer of ammunition to the Russians have been blocked.” The Washington Post could not independently verify his claims. Heidi added The beleaguered Russian forces had three options: try to escape, surrender, or risk being killed.

The city, which was home to more than 20,000 people in the Donetsk region before the war, is one of four regions that Russia illegally claimed to absorb this week. The victory would be Ukraine’s most significant success in the Donbass region since Russia concentrated the bulk of its forces there in the spring. Heidi He added that the city of Kremena, close to the east of Lyman, in the Luhansk region, would be Ukraine’s next military target.

Overnight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the nation that troops were achieving “substantial results” in the east and described Lyman as a prime example, thanking the fighters there. “These steps mean a lot to us,” he added. night Tabuk.

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Ukrainian military spokesman Cherevaty told The Post earlier this week that “almost all logistical routes” to the Lyman region were under Ukrainian control.

This tactic, known as kettling, involves troops besieging a city and leaving the occupying forces with few exit strategies other than surrender. Cities and villages in the eastern Donbass region tend to have few roads leading in and out, leaving invading forces unfamiliar with the particularly vulnerable area as they likely do not know any alternative paths to exit.

A member of the Ukrainian military shared a video with The Post that appeared to show a destroyed column of Russian vehicles that may have attempted to escape from Lyman after Ukrainian forces had already closed off. In the video, dead bodies of Russian soldiers lie on the side of the road.

Although the national celebration during Good Friday Treaty signing ceremony which has claimed to annex parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions to Russia, Putin is facing criticism at home for his military build-up, as thousands of people flock to the border and Flee to avoid being summoned In the war. He also faced criticism for losing land in northern Ukraine.

Oleg Tsarov, Ukrainian separatist leader, pointed He wrote on Twitter that the situation in Lyman was a “bad backdrop” for the annexation celebrations. Lyman’s loss is also likely to reinforce the idea that the annexations may not reflect the reality on the ground, with little military control over them, as Russian forces do not fully control any of the four regions.

However, Putin made it clear in his barbs Speech On Friday, he had intended that the annexed lands and population “forever” be part of Russia.

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He has previously said that any attack on the annexed territories would be seen as an attack on Russia and threatened to “use all the means at our disposal” to defend it – raising the possibility of nuclear weapons being used. On Friday, he referred to the United States’ atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945, calling it a “precedent” for the use of devastating weapons.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, President Zelensky’s advisor, Mikhailo Podoliak, likened the encirclement of Lyman to the vicinity of Ilovsk in Donetsk by Russian forces in 2014. Then “our men agreed to surrender without weapons. But Russia broke its word. The column was shot ” Wrote on Twitter. He added that the situation was reversed today, as the Russian forces were forced to “ask to leave Lyman.”

Kostyantin Khodov from Kyiv contributed to this report. Suleiman replied from London. Dixon reported from Riga.

The war in Ukraine: what you need to know

Last: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees Friday to The annexation of four occupied regions of Ukraine, after interim referendums were widely denounced as illegal. Follow us Live updates here.

the answer: The Biden administration announced on Friday a New round of sanctions against RussiaIn response to the annexations, it targeted Russian and Belarusian government officials, family members, military officials, and defense procurement networks. As President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday, so is Ukraine Apply for a “quick ascent” to NATOIn clear response to the annexations.

In Russia: Putin announced military mobilization On September 21 to call up to 300,000 reserve soldiers In a dramatic attempt to reverse the setbacks in his war on Ukraine. advertising led to exodus From More than 180,000 peopleespecially The men who were subject to serviceAnd the Renewed protests and other acts of defiance against the war.

Fighting: Ukraine launched successful counterattack who – which Russia forced a major withdrawal in the northeastern Kharkiv region In early September, when the troops fled the cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and Abandoned large amounts of military equipment.

Pictures: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground since the start of the war. Here are some of their most powerful works.

How you can help: Here are the ways those in the United States can do it Support the Ukrainian people Beside What people donate around the world.

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